Does anyone have any experience with this? The coordinator of my program told me that he will schedule a meeting with my supervisor, the coordinator, and myself and that during that meeting they will come up with specific tasks which I need to complete. However, regardless of how "objective" those tasks are, my supervisor is not happy with me and I know that he will not let me 'pass' those meetings. He will do anything he can in his power to show the coordinator that I am not a good student. Has anyone gone through a procedure like this? Does the supervisor always kick the student out?

  • 31
    What is your plan to graduate if you were to stay with a supervisor who does not want to supervise you?
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 25 at 22:29
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    The headline doesn't match the question. Are you just assuming they are doing something formal or have you been told
    – Buffy
    Jan 25 at 22:42
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    I'm not asking about the meeting, but it sounds like you may be making assumptions about the purpose. Also, this may be impossible to answer other than locally. Procedures differ everywhere. They may or may not have power over your student status.
    – Buffy
    Jan 25 at 22:50
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    @Erwan: As far as I can tell, at least de facto a department does NOT have a duty to provide a supervisor; the department can always dismiss the student from the program instead. In all the PhD granting departments I have been a part of, part of the regulations say that the student must find a faculty member to be their supervisor by their n-th year (for some n) or be kicked out, and another part of the regulations say that, if a student's supervisor no longer wishes to work with them, the student must find another faculty member to be their supervisor within some period of time. Jan 26 at 2:40
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    @AlexanderWoo interesting, this is very different from the institutions I've been (in Europe). Does this mean that a supervisor could potentially get rid of their student arbitrarily, without even motivating their decision?
    – Erwan
    Jan 26 at 11:56

2 Answers 2


We don't know the details, of course, but in the end you do not have a right to be supervised by a specific professor. If a professor does not want to be your supervisor (any more), then there is relatively little you can objectively do.

There is a kind of "code of conduct" that professors see students they have accepted as advisees to graduation, simply because it (i) doesn't look very good on the department if someone just willy-nilly decides they don't want to do it any more, and (ii) because it creates a hassle for the department to then figure out what to do with the situation. As a consequence, it doesn't happen very often that a professor un-assigns themselves from being adviser. But it happens (and I have done it myself) if there are good reasons for it -- a typical one being that the student turns out to be on a trajectory where they have no chance to graduate with the degree they seek (and don't take the hint that it is best if they looked for a job elsewhere, outside grad school), or if there are substantial personal disagreements between student and faculty.

You do not say why your adviser wants to un-assign themselves. It is, also, strictly speaking not part of your question and so need not be answered. But I would strongly recommend to walk around the block a half dozen times and think hard why you got into this situation. Your question very much reads like "my adviser is unreasonable and wants to kick me out of the program". But experience shows that most advisers are not in fact unreasonable, and that there are good reasons why they do not want to advise a student any more; it would be good for you to consider what these reasons might be, and what needs to be done to address these. Completing the tasks required of you might be a good first step.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 26 at 20:26
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    General remark: The comments under this question and answers by OP gave quite a bit of insight into the question. Unfortunately they were "moved to chat", but I suggest reading them before posting or judging answers.
    – Louic
    Jan 27 at 7:05

The coordinator of my program told me that he will schedule a meeting with the 3 of us and that during that meeting they will come up with specific tasks which I need to complete.

You do not mention any formal process and it just sounds like a meeting to decide what tasks you should be doing. I don't see an issue with this. It may be as simple and non-threatening as it sounds.

From comment...

My supervisor is young and new and my lab mate and I are the first students he sees.

So maybe your supervisor is finding this just as difficult and challenging as you are. They will have a lot of things to do apart from supervise and may be finding it overwhelming. You think you are being ignored (or something like that) but it may simply be that you are a task too much for your inexperienced supervisor. It may be that issues outside of their control (and of which you know nothing) are making it much harder for them to deal with you than you understand. Keep an open mind.

In comments you mention a lot of distrust between you and your supervisor. That's unhealthy at best and self-destructive at worst. It is not all clear that you even wrote an email explaining the issues from your point of view to your supervisor or their boss. Don't assume verbal communications have any weight - they are often interpreted and/or remebered differently by the parties involved.

You have an extremely negative view of your supervisor at this point and, right or wrong (and we don't know), it really is not practical for you to continue with your own viewpoint so negative. If you cannot adopt a more positive mental approach (and maybe you have good reasons - we don't know the reality) then you need to consider changing supervisor or even seeking an amicable parting of the ways from the institute and possibly reapplying elsewhere.

If you do find yourself with a new supervisor or seeking a new opportunity elsewhere the you need to start with a clean mental and emotional plate.

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