I concede this is similar to a few other questions, but any help would be appreciated.

My husband completed the twenty coursework requirement for his D.H.Sc. with a 4.0 G.P.A. from the online program of an established accredited U.S. University.

When admitted, the program claimed no one could finish the course work E.B.D. Then after two years, eight courses including two dissertation semesters and approval from the committee on his thesis project which was closely related his statement of professional interest in his application and the professional work of both of us since 1996, the University changed the policy to the traditional two years after coursework completion to complete the thesis.

Ironically, but irrelevant to us, when he was two courses from finishing the courses, the University changed it back so in theory no one can finish E.B.D., so I am speculating there were already issues, but we can't change the past.

During the seven years, he has at four faculty thesis advisors from the University although his Thesis committee, who are all Ph.D's in his professional field have otherwise has remained intact. His project was again approved by the committee after completion of the coursework with Thesis advisor number three, also from his profession.

Where this came off the rails was when the third faculty advisor was promoted and the fourth faculty advisor, who is from a different health care profession, took over about a year and a half ago when he was well into data collection of the approved study. I have little doubt without this change he would have finished his Thesis over a year ago.

Faculty advisor number four, never liked his study, kept requesting changes in method and data verification including a completely re-do of the study including a legally impossible data verification requirement from a third party governmental agency that refused to release raw data, even with subjects signing a release.

They spent most of the past year and a half at an impasse and the advisor kept asking for changes, my husband, hired a dissertation coach to help, made most of the changes, but then after reviewing each change, the advisor refused to take the project back to committee because of the data verification issue. Frustrating to us is our data collection method was approved in the two previously approved studies, but this advisor felt this point made the study flawed.

My husband requested a new advisor several times, ideally going back to thesis advisor number three who was still employed by the University, always denied, which of course did nothing to help the relationship with faculty advisor number four.

He has now received the anticipated termination letter. In my opinion, this last faculty advisor decided early on that this Dissertation was going no where but because it was his job, he just kept leading him one with one more change, one more change and because he was six years into this, my husband kept trying to make it happen.

Now what? He is distraught and after seven years and knowing that he has spent the past year and a half fighting this advisor, I am trying to find a way to salvage all of this time, money and quite frankly a decent study with meaningful data since we have been running the study in our business (another problem for the advisor, we are for-profit and the subjects are paying customers, not non-for profit) for two and a half years.

Can he approach another University that might accept some or all of the coursework and do a Dissertation through them? He already has a Masters Degree and a Professional Degree. But are there any options to make something of all this work?

Any ideas would be helpful and appreciated since the University is not returning any of our calls or e-mails.

  • 2
    What does EBD mean?
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 0:59
  • 3
    I think "everything but dissertation", probably the same as ABD?
    – Kyle S.
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 1:06
  • 1
    I think so. Many people will include it on a c.v., but unfortunately, it's meaningless.
    – ewormuth
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 1:19
  • 8
    Something doesn't smell wright here. Why so many different advisors? In the graduate-school models I'm used to, students and advisors choose each other. There is no external assignment and no reason to switch if the student and advisor are both satisfied. In particular, promotion is not a reason to end an advising relationship. On the other hand, changing advisors requires only the agreement of the student and the new advisor; there is no such thing as "requesting" a new advisor.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 12:58
  • This all sounds very weird. Please explain why thesis advisors #1 and #2 stopped being advisors/left? Did they have a problem specifically with him, or with the department?
    – smci
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 8:37

1 Answer 1



Okay, it's too soon to give up on this institution. Go higher up. If you don't want to subject your husband to the risk of more frustration right now, go on your own initially.

Your story didn't leave clear for my what the internal dynamics of the committee were.... Any hope there?

Thinking about @mkennedy's great suggestion, I realized that a paragraph I wrote in another thread would be useful here too.

Lay out the contradictions in a calm tone of voice, letting the situation do the heavy lifting -- avoid expressive language, bitterness, tears, etc., if possible. Say you would like some advice. If no advice is offered in that appointment, give your email address and phone number, and ask if you can check in in a couple of days. If possible, bring some of your paper trail with you, to leave with the administrator. (You don't have to go over them in detail together during the meeting.)

  • 4
    First go to the chair of the department. Then look for an "ombudsman" or dean of graduate school. If you haven't, start compiling a detailed history/timeline of events.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 11:14
  • Yes, in the universities I have known, the dean of the graduate school would be a natural person to speak with or write to. Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 4:17

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