Finishing with a Masters rather than continuing to PhD


I've decided to finish at the end of first year with a masters rather than going on to finish with a PhD. I hate my project and the stress is too much for me, it's making me ill. Has anyone else out there done this before?? I'm worried!!!


Someone in our lab gave up after a year. People have to upgrade to PhD from an MPhil usually anyway. I think it's probably better than struggling through with something you don't like and/giving up after 2-3 years. I decided I was nearer to finishing than starting and should finish. There can be disadvantages of a PhD if you change career completely, i.e. marketing your skills as non-academics can struggle to understand, lack of experience and initial low wages.
If you dropped out at the end that is when it would reflect badly on the department so it is in fact the best time at year 1.


Don't worry. You only spent one year doing this and as you will be awarded a Master it wasn't even a waste of time. In fact, it's a win-win. You gained new skills, did something different for a year and got a Master.

If you ever apply for a job you don't even need to mention that you were originally planning to do a PhD, just leave it as a Master and it won't be a disadvantage. 12 months have passed, I'm sure you have learnt a lot, so take a break, and get ready for a new challenge. In fact, I wish I had had the guts to leave after one year, it takes a lot of courage and I think it is the best time to leave. Prior to completion or after three years it's almost too late as there are implications for your CV, age and so on. So I would advise everybody to stick with it and complete after 16 months or later, but in your case you seem to have made the right decision. Lots of luck.


Just checked the archives and saw that you actually quit your PhD in May 2006? Or not?


Really, from your past posts it seems very likely that you have actually started your PhD in September or October 2005.

As that's 22 months ago, please forget my previous advise which was directed at someone at 12months stage. Correct me if I'm wrong.


Hi Zara, I thought you went to South America and decided you wanted to be a social worker (or something similar)?

Did you decide to come back to the PhD?


Hiya, sorry I think you guys think I am some other member of the forum, I only discovered this site a few days ago.

Thanks for the advice, I've already lines up an alternative course (and a completely different career) which starts next year, unfortunately I have to spend a year doing crappy jobs, but it'll give me a chance to write up my Masters and get some work experience to look good on my CV.

That's a good idea about not putting down the fact that i was doing a PhD on my CV - thank you for that advice. I'll just make it look like I was just doing a masters all along.


Oh sorry.

Blame PGF Team, they try to confuse as by recycling user names!

Good luck though!

Avatar for FindAPhD

Hang on a second, before you blame us. As far as we are aware there is only one Zara on the system. We do not recycle usernames.


oops sorry PGFT I take it back.

Bit confusing though.


Blasphemy H - never doubt the PhD Team!


i think i am in the same situation. im nearly finished my first year and have seriously considered dropping out. if i could get an mphil that would be ideal...... it very depressing and demoralizing when you have a superivosr who has no time for his students and gets angry when things arnt going well. an example of his attitude: he say his style of supervising is to gives people enough rope to hang them selves with. i think the important thing to remember is that a phd might not go well for a number of reasons and in many cases may not be the fault of the student. it could be that you dont get the support you need as a grad student or choose the wrong project, or the research makes you feel isolated. ive gotten very down and stressed and have questioned my own abilites as a student. i think is very sad when a phd faulters because of a supervisors neglect


Few weeks left before VIVA, yet still questioning if i ll go for PhD an MPhil or just drop out. I expect the examiner to ask if i want to continue for a PhD??
I don't know what my answer will be...perhaps..something like this:!


I didn't do the up-grading. I graduated with my Masters and then I started the PhD - in spite of my supervisor's attitude!
I never had doubts about my project, but many about supervision and my ability to cope with it and with the requirements and pressure of a PhD. I am at the end of my first year now and I think it was the best choice for me. If you decide to graduate you can take some time off and look for alternatives, including a better project and/or supervisor/ uni. No point in rushing on something so important, you risk to waste time and energy.


Just a someone who did a PhD before the MPhil upgrade thing was adhered to as thoroughly as it is now - I wondered..

If someone passes their first year upgrade viva, is it a simple matter of being awarded an MPhil if one chooses not to continue with a PhD? I would be most surprised if it is. Of the few people I know who have done MPhils, it seemed that there was not much less work than a PhD in terms of the length of thesis and the rigour with which it was examined. And they certainly took more than one year.

I think this is something that needs clarifying for the benefit of first years who are not sure about their futire. It would be awful to work to the assumption "Oh well, I've done a year, I'll still get something" if in reality this was not the case.