Background: I have been in the Phd Program since fall 2010, I have made great academic progress (two papers published in journals). From the 4th semester (spring, 2012), I have started working in a company and still a part time student in school. Till now, I am still keeping doing research and publish another paper and one conference paper. As I have finished all coursework requirement (72 semester hours, I transfer some credits from MS), I plan to work in the company and be a part time student to finish the degree.

From last month, my adviser kept asked what's my plan. I told him I will make my decision in mid-July as I can know my H1b working visa is approved or not. He send me another email ( I post here for information). My impression is he is threatening me...

Any suggestion? Again, it's difficult to look for a job for international students in such economics. I hope I can work and study as a part time student to finish the degree.

  • 2
    Your advisor's e-mail sounds troubling, but without more information it's not clear what can be done. (Some departments have policies against part-time Ph.D. study, or allow advisors to set their own policies, in which case there is probably nothing you can do. So the first question is what the relevant department and university policies are.) Overall, this question is formulated in a way that's quite specific to your situation, and it would be a better fit for this site if it were more written to emphasize the parts likely to apply more broadly. Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 5:13
  • 13
    Don't walk. Run.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 5:41
  • @JeffE I think that should be an answer. It is the best advice I can think of.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 8:56
  • @JefE: I agree. make it an answer. There seem to be bigger problems here.
    – Suresh
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 15:20

4 Answers 4


It is completely inappropriate for an advisor to send an email like that. The email makes it clear that this is an advisor that you should steer clear of. At a minimum a change in advisor is required. I would also approach the department head about the email. Faculty need to know that they need to behave better.


Don't walk. Run.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


First of all, I think OP's situation is not that specific. Many international students in US are facing the same. Just that his is very extreme - his advisor wants to kick him out. In that regard, I agree with JeffE's comment. OP's advisor is not friendly at all, he probably needs to run.

Now, to answer the question. It all depends on how much you want to be an academic.

To continue what you're doing right now, I think you hurt your current and future academic career. Your industry job is demanding, particularly since you need your employer to sponsor your H1B visa. You have to work very hard. You can't devote yourself to your research unless your job is directly related to your dissertation. You are still publishing papers. I believe you can even publish more and better papers if you do research full time.

If you quit your current job, the H1B will be gone. But, you can concentrate on your research. You might become a great academic.

On the other hand, if you continue your industry job, you will get H1B visa and everything to make your American dream come true. But, how about your dream to be a great academic? Didn't you want to be a scholar when you went to US to study?

It's June now. Too late to change school. I would talk to the advisor if I were you. Explain to him your situation. Maybe it's just misunderstanding between you and him. He may not know what you really want and need. If it doesn't work, change the advisor. If you can't do that either, you'll have to make a tough choice.


This is a fairly common experience at my university given the large volumes of EE and CS PhD students who take a "leave of absence" and slack off on their PhD research to do trivial things like starting Google and Yahoo. Here is what I've learned from their experiences:

  • Your University may offer you some protection while your H1B visa gets worked out. Typically, students can take a 1 year deferment, stay on status as a student, work for their company, and wait for their visa status to change.
  • Take the leave of absence. The "part-time" status is a lose-lose scenario for you, your advisor, and your company. You're wasting your time by being inefficient, your advisor is probably still paying for all of you despite your "part-time" status, and your company isn't getting your full mental investment.
  • For EE and CS PhD students, their goal was to get a US-based job and with it, legal status. For the majority of them, the PhD wouldn't add much since they would essentially be doing the exact same work. However, if you're in an industry where that isn't the case, maybe I would be a bit more concerned about giving up the PhD.
  • That being said, you have a job and it sounds like the company wants to keep you if they are talking about the H1B process with you.
  • Finally, you're a 2nd year grad student. You have a long long way to go if you want that PhD and it just so happens that you have an advisor in the way.

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