My doctoral advisor has regularly taken 3-4 weeks to respond to each round of my revisions on my doctoral dissertation draft.

Because of her lengthy response delays, I defended very late in the semester. (In contrast to her 3-4 weeks, I take 2-3 days to finish all of her requested revisions.) At the moment, it looks like I am going to run over to the next semester, which means I have to push back my conferral date and pay another semester's tuition since I am over the period where I received tuition compensation. (I had funding and a scholarship for four whole years, but my dissertation has run into a fifth year.)

My question is should I complain to her about her delays? I have already spoken a couple times to the graduate student advisor who works with the faculty, so I am sure my doctoral advisor knows I am anxious to finish up. Should I complain to the department chair about allowing faculty to take so long to respond to dissertations? If I have to enroll in another semester, I will officially be a whole year beyond the average time period of finishing a PhD in this program.

I still could have made this semester's conferral deadline, but my doctoral advisor yet again dropped the ball, and she hasn't looked at my final revisions for 4 days and the very last deadline for this conferral is today. I doubt I will meet the deadline today because she again took a long time in responding to my revisions even though I told her about this deadline several days ago. Should I complain to the department chair? Should I complain to anyone? Is there anything I can do besides paying for yet another semester's tuition?

3 Answers 3


Ask your advisor to check with the dean or other appropriate authority to see whether tuition can be waived since you have nothing left but a round of revisions and the defense. That puts your advisor in the position of explaining the delays, rather than your complaining about them.

  • @FredSmith - I like the idea in this answer, but I think, Fred, you should be the one to check with the dean. Your advisor might put it on her to do list and might get around to it in three or four weeks.... (No point in complaining at this point -- that train has left the station.) Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 0:21

With the deadline being today, I fear there is nothing left to do.

In the future you might get your supervisor to review chapter by chapter, reducing the actual effort she has per iteration, and giving you the feedback early on. Then you can also use feedback you got from the early chapters to update future one accordingly, so that your supervisor can see that you take her feedback seriouly.


Read your department literature and/or talk to the department head to see if there is any special status you can apply for since you only have your dissertation work left to complete. Many times this is referred to, at least unofficially, as ABD (All But Dissertation) status.

Oftentimes ABD status can be used to significantly reduce tuition costs (since you wont be taking any coursework).

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