My PhD advisor is not being supportive at all.


My phd advisor is not being supportive enough. I am in my 4th year of my phd and planning to wrap up in 4-5 months (only if everything goes as planned and things work in my favour). My research and dissertation is the last thing on my advisor’s to-do list. And I am growing extremely frustrated about this. I do not know how to handle this situation. First she is never around. Only time she is available in her office is when she has a class. She even skips her office hours allotted for students. She does not respond to my emails, calls, text messages. So only way for me to get hold of her to look for her when she has a class. I have to wait outside her door. And when I see her during this time, she tells that she is extremely busy and cannot talk. Then I ask for a meeting time to discuss about my phd dissertation. Every single time she has been late to these meetings. And sometimes she has skipped the meetings totally without informing why she is not showing up. I really want go into her office and scream that I am not able to handle this anymore. But I have been as diplomatic as possible. When I send her some writeup, she takes weeks to review it. On an average it has taken at least 3 weeks to one month to receive her feedback on something. Its not that she has like 10 other students. I am her only PhD students and she has one other master’s student (he has the same complaint too). I some time think to quit and start working. I have reached a point that I want to be done with all this and move on. But I have invested so much time in this that I do not want to lose this. But I feel extremely helpless and at her mercy. Does anybody have any suggestions, recommendations for me? I am growing frustrated with my situation. I have a job in had from my previous internship and want to go and join. But I am stuck here, helpless.


This is a difficult, but unfortunately not uncommon, situation to be in.

Firstly you need to try to book another meeting with her and tell her, face to face, honestly, that you need more support. If you've done this already, or if this doesn't work, then you need to write it down formerly in an email. If that doesn't change anything, then you need to go to the head of graduate studies, or staff involved in pastoral care, and ask for some assistance.

(Ps 3-4 weeks to review work is fairly reasonable, but the rest is unacceptable.)

Good luck and I hope you can resolve this. You've come too far with your PhD to give up now.



Sorry to hear you're having trouble with your supervisor. Do you only have one supervisor? Do you not have a team? Most institutions have supervisory teams of at least 3 to avoid scenarios like this. That should be your first port of call.

Is there someone you can talk to in your department like a Head of School/pastoral tutor? Or even a graduate school administration member? This behaviour is not acceptable and you really need all the support you can get this close to the end. Try and find out who there is in your institution who can give you the support you need.


Everything you describe in your post sounds fairly normal to me. Professors not being around and not answering their e-mails is about the most common thing in academia. Several weeks to get comments on a writeup? I know cases where it took more than a year.

The same is true for supervisors not being "supportive enough". A large portion of PhDs result from students essentially working by themselves with little or no supervision or support from anybody.

Curiously, you entirely fail to mention in your post what the status of your research is. I would say this is the most important aspect. Do you have results? Publications? A convincing argument to make and presentable conclusions? Only when and if your supervisor is happy with those aspects, she will give her OK for you to wrap up.

Frankly, your post sounds a little like you are trying to impose your personal timeline on your supervisor, no matter what the state of your work is. I can tell you that in the history of academia, this has worked exactly 0 times.

Finally, at the end you say that you would really like to quit and take a job elsewhere. You should realize that this is a decision you have to make independently from how your PhD is going. If you want to quit, quit. If you want to finish your PhD, finish your PhD, which realistically might take you another year or two. Make up your mind - and then live with the consequences either way.