I am an international student in a interdisciplinary PhD in the social sciences.

  1. My supervisor has about 60 students and does not do any advising beyond a few personal favorites.

  2. My second supervisor considers me a student of the first, resents the fact that he is the expert on the subject, and as a result won't read my thesis either. This has gone on for seven years and now I must submit. I speak four European languages and my thesis is in an area which is very relevant. Right now I can t see any future for myself as there are no jobs back home.

1.What do I do about my supervisors as the PhD is graded here?

2.Can I apply for post docs/tenure track (community college is more than fine) in North America with a PhD from Germany, or do they prefer N.American PhDs? How do I go about it? I have publications.

I'd be grateful for any advice/career suggestions etc. I don't mind leaving academia but I cannot return home as there are no jobs there.

  • 1
    Welcome to Academia SE. Unfortunately your question is too broad as it stands. Please edit it to boil it down to a single issue and specify a goal that you want to achieve. For more details on this, please read this and this FAQ.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 8:37
  • 3
    A community college job may actually be harder to get, as they tend to ignore applications from people who do not live near by. They usually cannot afford to pay travel expenses for job applicants. They may also be unable to pay visa costs. Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 10:16
  • I dont believe that this situation really happened, 6 years is maximum you can stay at phd.please provide us more details
    – SSimon
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 11:15
  • 3
    @SSimon, in my university you can register as a PhD student as long as it takes and for international students if the Auslanderbehöhrde gives you permission it is accepted.
    – user78397
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 12:23
  • 6
    60 students? I don't see how it's possible to call yourself an academic supervisor when you have that many students. We've got one with 10 at our university in the UK and that's considered severely pushing it (there have been complaints). Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 19:27

3 Answers 3


It is not uncommon that a German professor does not give advise to their PhD students. Neither is it uncommon that the 2nd referee does not want to read your thesis. In Germany, whether your dissertation is good enough or not is mainly decided by the first advisor. If they say it's ok, then it's ok. Your advisor theirself is the chairman of the exam committee, the other members would not say "no" to him.

That is, there is no need to worry about your situation.

If I were you, I would just write up my dissertation, give it to my advisor, and ask them for advice. Then, from what I know, the advisor would find some time to read it, and tell you something to improve (they have to pretend as if they understood your thesis). Then you could do the improvements, mail the thesis to the 2nd referee. Again this guy would also tell you something to improve, you do it, and that's it.

  • 2
    In all cases I know, the advisor is not the chair of the exam committee. They are, however, likely the person who has the most say (practically) in the exam committee.
    – user151413
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 18:44

Did your first supervisor ever say to you that he/she won't read your thesis? Why don't you try to finish writing the first draft of your thesis first and let your first supervisor to read and comment? My supervisor also is a type that doesn't do much supervising and only let me do whatever I want. But she took time to read my thesis and I finally managed to submit mine. I am not sure whether it is possible for you to apply for postdoc without PhD degree. Correct me if I am wrong. The fact that you already have publications means you will have a good time writing your thesis.


I have had problems that are similar to yours. I would say that you need to finish your PhD. The strongest thing you can have in your CV besides your publications is your degree. Apply for Postdoc in other countries within the EU. There are many opportunities and you may get lucky. America is having difficulties with funding for Science and Humanities, but of course, you can still try there. The situation with your advisors is terrible, but you can always ask for other people to read your dissertation, like your senior colleagues and professors. Ask for their opinion and suggestion. Make your dissertation as well written and coherent as you possibly can in this situation. It can indeed bring you some job opportunity.

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