It has been almost 3.5 years since the start of my Master's, and I want to graduate this December. My advisor wants me to stay and work with him for some more time. I don't want that. When I asked for a recommendation letter for my Ph.D., he got mad and yelled at me, saying that I was pushing him and rushing to graduate. I didn't put his name, but I have applied to other universities. For a few months, my advisor has been making conditions like he wants a paper before the defense; otherwise, there is no guarantee of graduation. I am trying my best, but it is complicated as I just got my whole data set. I have already prepared a manuscript, but it may take time to submit as other members have to review it. He says that he needs paper as he will not get future funding if I don't give the paper as soon as possible. I told him that if he lets me graduate, I would work on paper even after graduation, but he says that if I join another lab meanwhile, I would not give him the finished paper. This is stressing me out.

I am an international student and afraid to talk to the department and think that they might take his side as he is renowned faculty. I wanted to finalize the defence date so I sent an email to all my advisory committee members for that. Everyone replied, but my major advisor didn't answer. He never responded when I asked about my graduation date. I talked to my co-advisor, and he is supportive of me, but he stays on another campus, so I can't share everything with him. It's already been October and the last date to defend this semester is Nov 24th. Please let me know what would be the best option to do right now.

  • 2
    I had a similar problem at the end of my PhD, see here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/139096/…. My recommendation would be to try to defend without a paper as I don't think publication is usually expected for a Master's. Good luck.
    – JEs9X
    Oct 6, 2021 at 21:20
  • He says that I have a fair chance of graduation and that it depends on paper, so I am confused whether it's normal or pushing? I have already been accepted at another university without his recommendation. But, when he gets angry, he acts up so I am afraid of how to fight. But, I am too much stressed and not in a condition to stay longer than this December. I would have a breakdown if I stayed in this lab as he is super controlling, and you feel like you are living his life not yours. He taunts a lot when you take a day off. You can't be creative instead follow whatever he says. Oct 7, 2021 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


Since it seems doubtful that you can change his mind, you seem to have only two options. Go along, or go to higher authority. If you won't talk to the department head or dean, you are well and truly stuck.

It would be useful (for you) to know if he has done this to others as well.

There might be a student advocate office at your university that can offer advice.

  • I went to the department and my defense date has been finalized. Thank you for the suggestions. Oct 25, 2021 at 13:40
  • Good news, and good luck.
    – Buffy
    Oct 25, 2021 at 13:41

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