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Should I sue my PhD adviser once he denies my defense and graduation?

San Francisco, CA |

I have been working on my PhD program for five years. I have several journal publications and attended many academic conferences. For those previous graduated students from this lab, I have never seen they had that many publications as mine. Since I am an international student, my adviser likes to threaten I cannot graduate if I don't finish something, but this 'something' never has an end list. Once I finished this work, there will be another work coming up and the same threaten comes out from his mouth and emails again. Because my defense is coming up, I am really afraid he won't let me to defense. If this is the case, I will loss my F1 status because my I-20 is expired. I think this is unfair to me because my adviser abuse my F1 status. Should I sue he in any possible means?

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Attorney answers 2


Your claim is speculative at best.

If you are concerned about future events, start to document every single incident that leads your to believe that your adviser is treating you in an arbitrary, capricious, or unlawful way.

The rules regulating colleges and universities are different than in the private sector. You will need to consult with an lawyer who understands the Education laws governing the school.

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David Andrew Mallen

David Andrew Mallen


Start planning now, before the thing you fear most happens, by talking with a lawyer who can advise you of your rights and remedies.


You will need to appeal the judgment of your advisor to your Dept chair and then to the Dean. Check your university's internal admin appeal procedures and comply literally with all of the regs and requirements. The internal appeal process will require, as Mr. Mallen says, a well-documented chronicle of events evidencing substantive bases for doubting the fairness and objectivity of the advisor's judgments. You need to prevail at the admin appeal because courts will almost never interpose their own judgment to cause the conferring of credit or a degree over the refusal or disapproval of the educational institution.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.