As I mentioned in this question, I am unhappy with the way my PhD is going. For the sake of completeness, I will summarize my condition in this question too.

I am a 2nd-year PhD student in computational physics. My advisor left my university soon after I joined the PhD program. I did not want to join any other research group. So, my advisor and I decided that he can supervise me remotely (he went to another country). In my first year, I was mostly focused on coursework. Since August 2020, I am focused on my research work. We used to have one meeting every 2 or 3 weeks till December 2020. Now, since December 2020, the advisor is not giving me any time. We just had 2 meetings in 7 months.

Now, finally, I had a meeting with him a few days ago. I told him that I need more time. I need regular meetings. He said that he's very busy and can't give me a lot of time. I told him that I am not happy with the way my PhD is going. He said that he understands that it can be very difficult to handle things without having a proper research group and with no active supervisor. He literally said, "technically speaking you have no supervisor at this moment". When he said this, I mentioned that maybe I should move on and search for any other suitable position. He said that I should definitely look for any other position.

Currently, I am looking for other positions. My question here is: should I mention my "two years wasted at this university"-story in my SOP or in any other documents? I am about to write emails to a few professors and ask them if they have any PhD vacancies. Should I mention my current PhD student status in emails?

  • 1
    Have you talked to your graduate school about getting a new supervisor? Jun 29, 2021 at 2:04
  • 1
    Would it even be possible to graduate without an advisor at the university?
    – lalala
    Jun 29, 2021 at 7:59
  • 1
    Even if there's a good reason for not getting a new supervisor, people are going to want to know why you would rather change universities, losing 2 years, rather than work with a new supervisor at the same university. If you don't have a plausible sounding reason, they may just assume that actually you were the problem--that no supervisor there wanted to work with you. Jun 29, 2021 at 15:38
  • It is certainly not "wasted". Mention the work you have done, ask for your current advisor to recommend some suitable positions and email those people. Definitely mention your current status, but do NOT badmouth your program or school in any way.
    – Paddy
    Jun 29, 2021 at 23:12

1 Answer 1


Yes, but keep it very short and neutral. Something like:

My advisor left my university soon after I joined the Ph.D. program. I did not join him. We tried to make this work by him supervising me remotely, but that did not work out.

Also, if your current (remote) supervisor can give you a positive letter of recommendation, then that would help as well.

  • 20
    Excellent advice. The positive letter might be essential, actually. Do what you can to obtain that.
    – Buffy
    Jun 28, 2021 at 15:48

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