I have to hand in the thesis to my supervisor, but I could neither find him in the faculty nor contact him, but I know his house.

Is it advisable to hand in a thesis by visiting my supervisor's house?

  • 16
    The pink elephant in the room — why is the OP having to "hunt" their advisor down to hand off a thesis?
    – Mad Jack
    Jul 3, 2014 at 22:40
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    @HifaMo: most users have a Western perspective. My observation has been that on this site you will mainly get answers specific to US academic culture, unless you ask otherwise, with a few from Europe thrown in for variety. If you want answers specific to the academic culture anywhere other than the US, then you at least have to give a clue where that is :-) Although I'd guess that in any culture, if someone won't give you his phone number it's probably not because he wants you to come to his house instead. I may be wrong. Jul 3, 2014 at 23:24
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    "Because he refused to give his supervisees his contact information." Are you saying that your supervisor does not have an email account that you have previously used to contact him? If the answer is really no, then please add more identifying information, including geographic information. In all academic departments I am familiar with, faculty are required to have an active email account through which they receive important (and unimportant) information regularly. If the advisor is not answering his emails or says "Don't contact me via email" you need to let us know about that. Jul 4, 2014 at 3:44
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    @HifaMo: You should edit that information into your question. In all the academic contexts I'm familiar with, not giving any email address to your students would be rather unreasonable behavior. "Patriotism prevents me from mentioning the geographic location, sorry." I don't understand what you could mean by this. Jul 4, 2014 at 4:54
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    @PeteL.Clark: "patriotism". I've encountered something like this before on Workplace. Occasionally people don't want to state their country because they don't want a bunch of foreigners concluding or saying, "the standard practice in your country is appalling". Of course in this case it means that the questioner can't get an opinion on whether this even is standard practice, and there's a standard response to it, or if this supervisor has gone off the rails and the response is to go up the hierarchy. Jul 4, 2014 at 7:42

6 Answers 6


I wouldn't find it okay if someone would come to my house because of that. Work and personal life should be separate and it would be inappropriate to visit the supervisor there.

Does he not have an office? If nobody can tell you where to find him, then you should call him or write an email and ask for an appointment.

  • 3
    The supervisor should also have a mailbox and people at the office who know how to contact the supervisor. Leave a copy at the office as well as a message about where the copy is. Keep a backup copy in case the supervisor wants you to drop by the house anyway, (but let them suggest it: it is less appropriate for you to offer anything other than "how shall I get it to you"). Jul 3, 2014 at 18:23
  • You are over-generalizing. In my institute, professors call students to their home occasionally.
    – user13107
    Jul 4, 2014 at 2:42
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    @user13107: Visiting someone's home because you've been invited by them is much different than dropping in on someone's home unannounced. The idea that it is potentially invasive to make an unannounced visit to someone's home is not particular to academia. Jul 4, 2014 at 3:33
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    In my opinion, vocabulary such as "coming to my house" and "visiting someone's home" is blurring the issue. Unless the supervisor's house actually doesn't have a mailbox, we are talking about dropping something into someone's mailbox (= sending a letter) here, aren't we? Jul 4, 2014 at 6:21
  • @O.R.Mapper If this is the official submission of a thesis, the timely receipt of which will decide about the student's career, it would be careless to just drop it into a mailbox, wouldn't it? Jul 4, 2014 at 12:39

As a faculty member, I value my privacy. Home is home and work is work. Unless I suggest this myself, I would be displeased by a student coming to my house unannounced.

  • 1
    This is exactly right. I would be incredibly ticked off by a student showing up unannounced at my home, unless either I invited the student (unlikely) or it's an absolute emergency (which I hope is even more unlikely).
    – aeismail
    Jul 3, 2014 at 21:51
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    That said, we don't know how long the supervisor's uncontactability has lasted, or how hard the questioner has tried. If he really is so flakey that he isn't visiting the faculty or taking phone calls or checking email, and hasn't told colleagues where he is, for a protracted period, then the questioner is entitled to be displeased already ;-) And on a sombre note, someone should go to his house eventually, albeit not the questioner. He might be dead. Jul 3, 2014 at 21:58
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    @RoboKaren: the road trip movie about a student who needs to find his unexpectedly turned-on-tuned-in-dropped-out professor to hand in an assignment before the end of spring break, practically writes itself. Jul 3, 2014 at 22:02
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    Sure, but emergency is if someone's physical being is in risk, not if I haven't responded to their email.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 4, 2014 at 5:46
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    I should mention that undergraduates in particular don't seem to understand "emergency." For them, emergencies seem to include band practice, death of their roommate's great aunt, and watching the world cup. :-)
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 4, 2014 at 15:34

Following on from a comment by the OP that this supervisor has refused to give his supervisees his personal contact details, I think it's important to say very strongly that no, in this case it is entirely inappropriate to go to the supervisor's house.

To even ask it is creepy and weird. If a student actually did this, after I'd refused to give out my personal contact details, I'd be talking to the university administration office; and, depending on their advice and whether or not this had happened before with this student, the police might get involved too. Based on previous experiences, when a student with this sort of serious boundary problem starts creating these sorts of issues, it's important to act decisively and quickly to close things down before they escalate into really serious problems.

So no, don't go round to your supervisor's house, given that they've already refused to give you their personal contact details. To do so would be creepy and weird.

Ask the department administrator how you should hand in your thesis to your supervisor: they will either take it on their behalf, or point you at a suitable location to leave it, or provide other guidance.

  • Questioner specifically states they don't have the supervisor's email address. I think the supervisor is weird, and possibly negligent of their teaching duties. So I certainly agree with going to department administration, the supervisor is causing students problems, and the department might want to put a stop to it. Jul 4, 2014 at 7:33

I have myself handed in a thesis by visiting a professor's house. But I had contacted him beforehand.

You need to answer -

  • Is it really urgent to hand in thesis now?

If the answer is no, don't bother with going to house.

  • 2
    Give it to the department secretary and ask them to time-stamp the cover. Now it's no longer your responsibility.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 4, 2014 at 15:35

As mentioned previously in comments, this answer really depends on the culture of where in the world you are. Within my country, South Africa, I am positive that none of my professors would mind in the slightest if I tracked him down at his home for any query at all. I'd say he would invite me in for coffee while we discussed the issue at hand.

Of course there are exceptions to any rule. There are probably some professors in my institution that would indeed take offence. It could also depend to some small degree on the professor's specific attitude towards the student in question.

I'm talking about an environment where the amount of students any single professor would supervise is small enough that he would know each student personally at least to some degree.

To recap, in my institution I would and have tracked professors down at their homes if I have any queries, even if the reason is not considered particularly urgent.

  • 1
    As another South African, I can say that if I had showed up an my supervisor's house she would not have been happy to see me. However, she always made it clear how to get hold of her -- when she would be in her office, which days she didn't check email, etc. -- and would respond to emails or notes left in her pigeon hole promptly.
    – Max
    Jul 4, 2014 at 12:49

How do you know your advisor is at home? What if he is on vacation? What if he is out of country?

The purpose to hand in your thesis is to let him read it and review it? right? If he is not home, how do you know he will get your thesis and read/review it?

You need to find his whereabout first. Then contact him and ask him how and where to deliver your thesis. If he tells you to hand in the thesis to his house, do so. If he wants to get it at his office, do so. It's your responsibility to make sure he gets the thesis and read it.

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