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I am in my first year of MSc program and I have some concerns and I would appreciate it if you could let me know whether these expectations are unreasonable. Before I start my work with my advisor, we agreed on a project and on the courses I have to take. When I started my work with my advisor, he asked me to work on a completely different thesis in a different area of research and he asked me to drop my courses and take them next year. Meanwhile, I have been getting yelled at even in our early meetings with personal criticism. Also, asking questions of him is quite scary and usually does not lead to an answer but more criticism. However, he always responds to emails very fast and he is always on time with his meetings which are good things about him. I do not know how common these behaviors are, what parts of it is reasonable to continue with, and I do not know if I have to rise any of these issues with the department or I should take whatever that is happening. Thank you for your help. I am in early stage of my academic career and I am really confused.

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    I think it's hard to answer: "personal criticism" might be valid (e.g., hypothetically, if you promised to read some papers but didn't), reasons to change the project and drop (change?) the courses might be valid (e.g. if the question in the original project was solved, or if they found an objectively 10x more exciting project (although I would certainly ask why they decided to change the project)). One question you can ask yourself is whether you would be happy to work with this person. Spending 2 (or more?) years in an atmosphere you don't like at all might affect your mental health.
    – Dmitry
    Jan 27, 2023 at 19:05

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When I started my work with my advisor, he asked me to work on a completely different thesis in a different area of research and he asked me to drop my courses and take them next year.

Why would he do such a thing? If he can give you an explanation that makes sense and that is aligned with your goals, then maybe there is no issue. But I suspect he is doing this because he urgently needs help on this other project. This is a red flag for two reasons: (1) he is making this decision unilaterally and with little apparent regard for your goals, and (2) he probably greatly overestimates how much help a first-year master's student is able to provide, which will lead to problems.

Meanwhile, I have been getting yelled at even in our early meetings with personal criticism. Also, asking questions of him is quite scary and usually does not lead to an answer but more criticism.

I suspect this is a good example of the "problems" I predicted above. Of course, it's hard to judge from afar, maybe he has good reason to be frustrated with you. But either way, talking to your advisor should not normally be "quite scary."

what parts of it is reasonable to continue with, and I do not know if I have to rise any of these issues with the department or I should take whatever that is happening

What are your other options? It sounds like your concerns are probably legitimate and it would be reasonable to switch to another advisor. If you can do so easily, great. But if finding another advisor will mean leaving the program, applying somewhere else, and starting over, then it's hard to say....sometimes it's better to cut your losses, other times it's better to tough it out. Probably something only you can decide. If there's someone in the department who you trust, someone who knows both you and the advisor, then maybe approaching them privately for advice is a good next step.

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