I started a PhD in US wanted to study machine learning. Instead of that I cleaned experimental data (coming from human-related experiments), without any algorithmic endeavur or learning anything new. The choice of lab was pure, since they are supposed to use machine learning but not explicitly study it, but I chose it because of personal reasons (they would allow me to visit my family in my country more often). I regret it, since I see now that they do not use machine learning at all. I told my professor, after a year, that I want to stop at masters and he got angry. He agreed but I get the feeling he will not allow me to do any kind of research on the masters, and he'll probably make my life hell. I want to apply for a new PhD but since I have not done substantial research for the past year, I don't think I have good chances of getting accepted in a better PhD program. How should I handle this case with my professor? Can he not allow me to even take a masters? of course asking for a recommendation letter is out of question..

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    You are entitled to leave the course, he does't need to approve that decision. I think the most important thing is that you do what is right for you in your life. His anger is to do with his own personal issues, it's not actually about you, although it may feel this way. You are leaving the course anyway, why not start a fresh at a masters or PhD in another university, one that better suits your needs, with a supervisor that is more understanding? It is much better to make a switch early on, rather than continue unhappily down a road you do not want to be on. – Kelly Aug 21 '17 at 13:22

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