Basically my PI dropped this on me last week and said that my work is not up to PhD standards. It's pretty frustrating because it seemed like I was on track to graduate this year. That said, my PI has brought this up before. Since then I had shown I was improving and had met his standards—or at least I thought so.

My school's official policy for my situation is that

A Student will be withdrawn from the University, if he or she obtains two unsatisfactory Graduate Student Research Progress Tracking Reports and the academic unit in which the student is registered recommends that he or she be withdrawn.

The Student’s transcript will thereafter indicate that the student was withdrawn from the University.

Regardless, I won't be able to work with him anymore. I've been looking for someone to finish under, but it is looking a bit hopeless right now. If I cannot find someone else to work under, should I just request to withdraw? If voluntarily withdrawing is an option, it seems better than being dismissed/kicked out.

In the future (specifically in interviews) I'd rather say "It wasn't working out for me so I withdrew" than "I was kicked out" to people.

I'm meeting with my department chair next week, but hopefully someone can give me an opinion based on their own experiences.


1 Answer 1


Does your university have a mentoring system? I think you need to sit down with a mediator and the PI to try and work out a solution where you can continue either under the PI's guidance or someone else. If you do not have a mentor, then you should talk to another Professor who you think will be sympathetic and be able to guide you. Something is terribly wrong if you are being kicked out and it is a surprise. You need to set-up a meeting and negotiate a solution, a meeting with the department chair sounds a bit abrupt, unless they can help find a solution somehow.

I cannot give an answer as to whether you should withdraw. But if you were under the impression you can graduate this year, then withdrawing does not seem necessary. You will have wasted at least three years (presumably).

  • There is an ombudsman, but we are too far gone at this point. It really came as a surprise, he had told me that we were having a meeting to present my work and before I could say anything he told me it was over between us. The department chair is going to meet with me to go over the protocol on finding a different supervisor (if possible). The department might be obligated to see me through at this point - I have passed my qualifiers and all my courses (CGPA = 3.85).
    – IAD
    Mar 5, 2017 at 22:15
  • If you have not already tried involving the ombudsman, then there is no harm in trying. Put it this way, some universities have primary supervisors and second supervisors that can step in if the relationship with the primary and the student breaks down. If you have done research and you only need one more year's effort, I don't see why you cannot discuss the possibility of working with another supervisor. If you talk with a mediator and the PI, then maybe the PI will even agree and help you find someone. Mar 5, 2017 at 22:18
  • It is worth a shot, though in his words (last week) there is a "systemic flaw in my thought process" - I'm not sure what exactly as he doesn't really give feedback. He might not have a problem with me moving to another lab, but I doubt he'd help me do so. The last prof I talked to said she does not want to jeopardize her relationship with my PI by taking me on.
    – IAD
    Mar 5, 2017 at 22:21
  • @Rüdiger sorry, not sure what GG stands for. My PI and I have had a pretty bad relationship. He was belligerent (yelling at people, I once saw him make a student faint, the guy needed to be hospitalized), so I fell into a cycle of just keeping my head down and working alone. Lack of feedback hurt too. He brought up something I had submitted 6 months ago last week, and told me it wasn't good enough, despite not saying anything and me asking at the time what he thought of it. I'm not 100% innocent, I definitely screwed up, but at the same time it's not all on me like he has said.
    – IAD
    Mar 6, 2017 at 0:31
  • 2
    @IAD - For some things, it's necessary to have hard evidence. But for you to negotiate with your department, I doubt you need hard evidence. // I suggest you start looking at faculty profiles very carefully so that in the meeting you can say whom you'd like to work with. Mar 7, 2017 at 5:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .