Currently I am not in a good relationship with my research advisor and I do not think it will be good as previously. So I decided to change my research advisor if it's possible. Would you guide me how I can find another research advisor? Is it possible to have two PhD advisor?

  • 6
    You can have co-advisers, but if you want a new one as you don't get along with the old one, that makes little sense. If you are really sure to want to switch, ask yourself which other faculty, if any, you got along with well/appears to value you (seminars, classes, ...)/whose research focus interests you. Then cautiously approach them to investigate if they'd be open, in principle, to take you in. Whatever you do, frame it in positive terms, and if you leave your old adviser, leave gracefully. Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 15:57
  • @gnometorule First I have to get the permission from my scholarship program if I can change my adviser before finding a new PhD adviser by myself. I am afraid they may not allow me by this kind of situation. So would you please tell me how I can write a letter of change of adviser request to my graduate school? What things should I include and avoid in the letter? If my graduate school allow me to change adviser,do you think they will suggest me to a new adviser to take me in? Is the process like this or other?
    – Meti
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:25
  • I suggest you make the Is it possible to have two PhD advisors? as a separate question.
    – Ébe Isaac
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 4:32

2 Answers 2


If you feel you must change your adviser, it is essential that you speak to the adviser before discussing the possible change within anyone else in your department. It is best to be as honest as possible, since usually advisers are experienced in working with students, and do not appreciate an explanation that might appear ingenuous. Also, your request could reflect poorly on your adviser if you speak to someone else in your concentration. I would sit down and carefully make a plan of action to use in bringing up the subject. In addition, try to learn as much about your adviser as a person. For example, is he or she vindictive, intolerant, considerate, etc. That will help you frame the way you approach the subject.

  • 6
    Depending on the circumstances, this could be terrible advice. If the advisor is truly vindictive, they might actively interfere with OP's search for a new advisor, given the opportunity. If the student-advisor relationship has completely broken down, it's probably better to speak first with an ombudsman, or the graduate program director, or some other well-informed neutral party.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 23:30
  • @AllanG I have few questions for everyone here: 1. Does changing advisor is same as changing majors or field of study? 2. Do you think contacting graduate school (international office) will lead me to a better solution? It's because I went to this office so many times with same problem but they couldn't give me a good solution rather than to go back to my advisor again. 3. Is it good to ask my advisor to write a recommendation letter for me to find another advisor?
    – Meti
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 3:19
  • If your relationship with your current advisor is bad enough that you need to find a new one, then talking with him or her is not going to help. Fixing this sort of problem is part of the job of the graduate program director (or the equivalent). Note, however, that like the HR department of an industry company, the director works for the department, not for you; they may ignore you or happily throw you under the bus to save face, avoid annoying the current advisor, or simply because they don't care about you.
    – anomaly
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 16:24

How can I find another research advisor?

The finding part ought to be the same as the one for finding your first advisor. As this would be your second supervisor, your approach should be slightly different. As @AllanG pointed out, you ought to be truthful with regard to why are you making your change.

This post should be helpful for this part of the question: How can I find a second supervisor?

Is it possible to have two PhD advisors?

Yes. You can have a joint supervisor or an auxiliary advisor. Joint supervisor/advisors are especially common when doing an off-site or industrial level research project where there would be an advisor who would help you on-site and the primary one in the institution. If you are doing an interdisciplinary research concerning fields across two departments, then you can have two advisors, one for each department with one being the primary and the other the auxiliary. There are other ways too, but it also depends strongly on the institution guidelines.

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