Going from PhD to a Masters in Research due to poor advisor support and input. What are my options?


Hi all,

I’m currently in a predicament/crossroads in life and would really appreciate some help on this matter. I’m 2 and 1/2 years in a funded PhD project, but currently things aren’t going so great.

There have been a lot of setbacks in experiments ,due to factors commonly attributed with long duration testing (months duration) that you can’t control, and lack of proper supervision, I was down 3 of my selected advisory team for nearly a whole year and my primary advisor was giving bad advice or pointing out issues with experiments after results were gathered when these issues could have been pointed out at the beginning when we were discussing methodology.

Other factors that negatively impacted my experience were clear favoritism of senior PhD students under their care and I eventually learned from other grad students who were under the advisory team’s care that faced very similar issues, be it with final year bachelor’s research projects, PhD work that made students leave with a Masters or PhD work were students left with no Masters or PhD. Also those previously mentioned favorited graduate students created a very hostile environment in our office towards me and the other graduate students in different fields.

My advisory team is now saying it may be best if I just finish with a funded Masters in Science Research (Biosciences), a really good one in their words with a clear 1:1 grade, as they worry that I won’t have the confidence and knowledge to defend myself during a viva. I’ve brought up all these issues with the grad department of my university, but they weren’t of any help and just gave me the choice of a basic appeal or master decision.

I’m still passionate in doing a PhD and wanted to know if others had similar stories where they went on to do a Masters and later on did a PhD with another university or finish with a Masters, join the industry sector, and then went back for a PhD with more personal funds as I think knowing this could help strengthen my decision making.

I know my family, friends and the other grad students I work with fully support me on whatever decision I make (even getting excited of the idea of me achieving a Masters degree as in their words “That’s no easy feat and I get a chance to start making real money”) but I’m really trying to figure out would it be better with finishing with a masters and doing a PhD later on in life, especially after gaining more experience and confidence or fight for continuing my PhD and face more emotional drainage and risk not getting it at the end?

I apologize for the long rant and poor grammar, English isn’t my strong suit, but this has been on my chest now for days and I think I really needed to see a more outside perspective or personal experience to really help me with this decision.

Thank you all.