I am in the last semester of my PhD. in Germany and my professor did not extend my job contract. I am an international student and my stay is guaranteed by a residence permit here. Due to the visa issues, I had to then look for another job which I luckily found in another city. Now when I informed her about it, she was rather mad at me because according to her, I kept her in the dark and kept looking for a job elsewhere. However, I do not think that I misled her. She offered me a job for only 3 months which could not have helped me.

I am usually afraid of her all the while because she is very powerful, does not communicate well, and does not read emails too. Also, she would micromanage my work at the language and conceptual level. My professor takes the liberty to change the words in my text. I do not know where to find out about my rights as a doctoral student. Even during the online meetings, I had informed her about the job scenario and also informed her regarding it through email. I planned to save money and work on the thesis and not depend on her financially but little did I know that the immigration office would issue me a job-search visa for six months. I am having other difficulties with her as well. I have lost my confidence as an independent scholar because I have no hold on my work.

Keeping all this in mind, I am thinking to change my supervisor in the last stage of my thesis. Is it possible to do so if I allow the last semester to fizzle out at the current university and I do not seek another desperate attention from my professor to extend my semester for staying matriculated there? I find it very unreliable to work with her. I do not feel mentally healthy and I have already begun to seek help.

I already tried seeking help from the international counselor at the university office 2 years back. I was convinced to inform my professor that I will quit after the counseling. To my surprise my supervisor herself called me to her office and told me that I can write my thesis the way I want and that she would only guide me so that the defense goes well. But she changed my work again afterwards. I feel betrayed by the counselor too.

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    Use the counseling again. Talk to a student union, omsbudsperson, or faculty member who can help mediate conflict. I don't think you can get good help here. Jan 23, 2022 at 18:43
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    Formally, it should be possible to have another professor (or Privatdozent) act as your official PhD advisor. Note that in Germany, typically the only formal role of the PhD advisor is just to be the first referee of your thesis. It does not matter with whom you did the work in the thesis (can even be all on your own), or who paid you. It might also be possible to do this with a professor at a different university, but more contemporary rules now often require you to have attended some courses for your PhD (though quite possibly not in more traditional places, didn't use to be like that).
    – user151413
    Jan 23, 2022 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


Traditionally, German universities do not have requirements of doing courses or having some minimum candidature period for doctoral studies. As long as you meet the overall admissions criteria and have the support of a local professor, you can in principle just show up with your thesis in hand and submit it.

Individual universities or departments however may have introduced extra requirements. Given the sensitivy of your request, I would recommend to first identify potential new PhD supervisors, and then check the local "Promotionsordnung" before contacting them.

While I would not expect official problems, I am somewhat sceptical of your chances to find a professor willing to go along with this (unless you have already a close relation with them without them being closer to your current supervisor). It would seem to be "inviting trouble" to accept your request, without much incentive or moral obligation.

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