I am a second year PhD student in computer science. I am having trouble finding an advisor who shares the same research interest as me. I have been working on my own (for the most part) for these two years and obtained some publishable results (a faculty suggested I publish a single author paper). But without an advisor, I cannot proceed further in my PhD studies.

Any comment will be helpful.

  • Don't you have a suitable supervisor only at your place, or don't you know people at all interested in your topic, also when looking in other places? This is relevant for the answers below. Apr 11, 2020 at 12:16
  • On thing to ponder is how narrowly you define your research ‘interest’. I never have had one sole ‘interest’, instead preferring to apply a variety of techniques to a variety of problems. That served me well in grad school, and even better afterwards (well, only some 30 years but so far so good).
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 11, 2020 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


While it would be ideal to have an advisor who has some interest and experience in your area of research, it is not strictly necessary. The most important things you will learn from your advisor, such as how to write papers, how to write a thesis, how to approach research, and how to design experiments are not domain-specific.

One option is that you look for an advisor that will be supportive, that you trust, and that you "click" with. If later on you need help from someone who knows your specific field, your advisor can probably put you in touch with someone who can help. That person might even be at another university.

It might also be possible for you to have two advisors; one in your university or programme that helps you with non-domain-specific stuff, and another in your field of expertise that might be at another university.

When you meet with potential advisors, ask them if they think it could be a problem that your field of interest is different from theirs. They may suggest one of the options I've mentioned above, or something else useful.


You could choose between going to a new program so that you can find (at least) an adviser that matches your interest, or change your research to fit the interest of a faculty member in your current department. I'd go for the latter because I don't like delaying the time completing PhD study unnecessarily, but this part is just my opinion.

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