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#1 atraub   User is offline

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Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 01:26 PM

Hey all, I went back to school to pursue a master's degree last year - I'm beyond overjoyed, I love the academia atmosphere. My school offers a thesis option for grad students who intend to pursue a PhD - that way they can get a head-start on their PhD research. I found a topic that's close to my heart and there's a professor who I think would be a particularly excellent adviser. The only problem is I'm worried he may retire in the next few years and I'd hate for him to retire during my research.

How would you broach this topic? Any advice would be really helpful.

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Replies To: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

#2 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 01:35 PM

I think a nice note would help.

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Hey teach, here's my topic and it seems to jive with what you are doing. Would you mind being my advisor for the long haul?

Much love, go with god, one love, xoxoxo,

Researchfully yours,

Atrub

(check one)
[ ] yes
[ ] no

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#3 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 02:12 PM

Just ask. "Would you be interested in being my advisor?" If yes, bring up the question of retirement and whether it would affect your working together. Even if he's thinking of retiring, he may be able to retire from teaching and stick around to see you through.
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#4 atraub   User is offline

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 02:32 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 15 June 2019 - 05:12 PM, said:

Just ask. "Would you be interested in being my advisor?" If yes, bring up the question of retirement and whether it would affect your working together. Even if he's thinking of retiring, he may be able to retire from teaching and stick around to see you through.

Thank you for the serious reply, I think this is a good way to do it.
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#5 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 02:46 PM

I definitely think it's worth having a conversation with this person. Are you looking for someone just for the Master's? Do you want this person to be your PhD advisor? These are two very different commitments.

It is also worth asking how well you know this faculty member. Have you taken a course with them or had significant interactions within the department? If they are near retirement and you don't know them well, that would be concerning. Folks that are near retirement also tend to have less funding, so that is another question to ask.

Advisor and collaborator are also independent relationships. If this person isn't willing to serve as your thesis/dissertation advisor, would they still be willing to collaborate with you? It isn't uncommon for a graduate student to have a primary advisor and work on secondary projects with other folks. If you do this, just make sure the primary advisor is on board. As a matter of personal taste, I would not want an advisor who wasn't okay with me pursuing a side project or two with other folks. Granted, those side projects shouldn't (necessarily) take away from your time with your primary advisor. If they do, is the primary advisor okay being a token advisor while you work with the second person?

Another question is this: if you intend to stay at your current institution to pursue a PhD, what happens if your desired advisor retires, gets really sick, passes away, etc.? Are there other folks with whom you could work?

Lastly, have you looked at your prospective advisor's job placement? If you want an academic job, your advisor's name matters.
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#6 atraub   User is offline

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 02:57 PM

He may be near retirement but it's hard to say. I've had a class with him and while I didn't do as well as I'd like on the exams, I think my practical work, and the presentation I gave on it, blew him away. I've even gone to his office hours once or twice and mentioned the thesis and he really liked the idea and he gave me some advice on it. Our conversations have stuck solely to the in-class work and that thesis though, so I don't know anything about when he plans to retire. I like my current institution so I was planning on staying there for my PhD, it's my understanding that it would be really unusual to get a Master's degree at 1 school and a PhD at another, but I could be wrong on that.

It sounds like I need to have a conversation with him, hopefully early next week.
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#7 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 03:12 PM

It sounds like he would be a good advisor. Just make sure to think through your options, especially if he is older.

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I like my current institution so I was planning on staying there for my PhD, it's my understanding that it would be really unusual to get a Master's degree at 1 school and a PhD at another, but I could be wrong on that.


It is unusual to get a Bachelor's and PhD at the same institution. Getting a Master's and PhD at either the same or different school is not unusual.
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#8 atraub   User is offline

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 03:19 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 15 June 2019 - 06:12 PM, said:

It is unusual to get a Bachelor's and PhD at the same institution. Getting a Master's and PhD at either the same or different school is not unusual.


That makes sense. This is a different institution from my Bachelor's so that much is good. If I found an institution that would provide a LOT more funding for my PhD, I'd probably switch schools. Mine doesn't provide much of a stipend, in fact I will have to work a part time job while getting my PhD to get by if I can't get extra funding.

This post has been edited by atraub: 15 June 2019 - 03:23 PM

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#9 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 15 June 2019 - 03:25 PM

I would suggest not staying someplace where your PhD is not fully funded (tuition and TA/RA position). You really want that time to work on your research, especially if you are looking for an academic job afterwards. The goal of the PhD is to make progress on your research and publish.
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#10 charlezales   User is offline

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 22 June 2019 - 10:48 PM

That's great I think the chance that he/she will ignore you is so low if an adviser found someone whose eager to purse the same topic that his in too probably he/she will not retire soon, it's always good to ask first always confront him about the topic you're researching I suggest start early gather materials and ask this good adviser about it. The catch here is you can know more so if there's went south and if he/she decided to retire(i hope not) you already know the work around for the topic you're dealing with.
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#11 tarmizi_adam2005   User is offline

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Re: Can you be my thesis adviser or are you going to retire soon?

Posted 11 July 2019 - 08:45 AM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 16 June 2019 - 06:25 AM, said:

I would suggest not staying someplace where your PhD is not fully funded (tuition and TA/RA position). You really want that time to work on your research, especially if you are looking for an academic job afterwards. The goal of the PhD is to make progress on your research and publish.


This is very good advice. Without funding, and you working part time jobs (that are not related to your PhD research) you will somehow loose focus. Doing a PhD, you cannot afford to loose your focus on your research. PhD is tough and even tougher if you don't have funding (from my own experience).
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