I need to start with the fact that the MA I'm enrolled in is overseas, so i have a very restricted visa and moved my family here to get this degree. I have a previous MA in a different subject and am an older student. I also have experience teaching at the college and graduate level in my home country.

In our department our supervisor is assigned, not based on our area of research but mostly randomly.

I started the one-year program in September, and it's a very small specialized MA in a much bigger social science program. The head of the department is my dissertation supervisor and advisor. Our first meeting was the second week of the semester and I asked him if there was a possibility for me to do more than the regular classes (such as help with research or start on my dissertation early) because a lot of the first semester classes are ones I took in my first MA (like research methods and an English as a second language course, fyi English is my first language but as an international I still have to take the course).

He did not respond well, saying that he felt I was conceited and perhaps the program just isn't for me. I tried to minimize damage apologizing, and reiterating that I don't think I'm better than my peers, am very committed to the program, I just want to know how to make this MA the best possible year for my future career in teaching. I am a female in academia, with children, and want to forward my career as much as possible. He said that I would never teach in this country with two MA's and that I needed to think about my options and consider returning home.

After the meeting I was so concerned but as he's the head of our program I thought it best to try to make it work. I waited six weeks and got on with my work, then I approached him to discuss my ideas for my dissertation. I was very careful to focus just on my methodology and ask for his guidance. Well no surprise, he doesn't like my ideas, my focus, my planned measure, and feels it's not aligned with the program enough. He also admitted that he has no interest or knowledge about what I want to focus on. He suggested two other topics that I could do (which are not in my area of focus). He then ended by saying that really the focus is up to me.

I don't want to make things worse, as he has a lot of power over me. But I'm feeling like this is a wasn’t of money and my time if I don't focus on my area of interest. I spoke with another professor who I really like and she advised me that I should talk to the head of the department, not the head of MA programs (who is a close friend of my supervisor) and the one just above my supervisor. She also suggested bringing an academic advocate into the meeting, which I agree with, but means that this is becoming a much more formal and serious situation.

Any advice on how to proceed and minimize potential damage, I don't want to get a negative reputation?

To clarify: There is the head of my small specialized program (my supervisor) Above him is head of MA programs for our department (his friend) Above him is the Deputy Head of Department (who’s on medical leave) And above her is the Head of Department

  • 3
    Why not follow the advice - seems pertinent to the situation? That professor will know more than we can... – Solar Mike Nov 14 '19 at 10:57
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    Why did you enroll in an MA program? I don't see how you can decide what to do without the answer to that question. – Anonymous Physicist Nov 14 '19 at 11:28
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    First, you said "The head of the department is my dissertation supervisor and advisor. Our first meeting …", then you said "she advised me that I should talk to the head of the department, not the head of MA programs …". Please clarify who is your thesis advisor? The head of the department? Or the head of MA programs? – scaaahu Nov 14 '19 at 11:56
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    Also, there are many typos in your question. Please fix them. Start with the question title, please. – scaaahu Nov 14 '19 at 11:58

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