I want to withdraw...


why is everyone trying to make me feel so guilty for wanting to withdraw from my PhD when Im only halfway through? Ive done some great work and it has been well received but I cannot really justify another 3 years PT funding (from my own pocket) and it is making me hate my subject so much that a former passion is a current poison.

I really wanted to complete this and get the qualification and the title, but I just dont know what to say. Everyone has spoken to has patroinised me, as if im a five year old having a tantrum, where in reality I already have a full time job, the upkeep on a home, and nobody else contributing to the cost of all of that. 'Move in with someone else' is always the advice I get and really with my experiences over the last 10 years that is not going to happen.

Worst thing is, now that supervisors, friends and family have started on at me, they have all planted the seed that I will just end up being depressed and regretful in a few months years/ but at the same time Im depressed and regretful for starting out on this.

Sorry to whinge at you all, but does anyone else feel like this? Am I having a temper tantrum?

Technically all I need to do is sign the form, but my supervisor (and others) want to chat about it first. It seems rather rude to go ahead and send the form in before we have those conversations, but I have this feeling that I will just end up feeling even worse and more confused by the end of it.


Avatar for sneaks

If you are totally sure, then why not just write what you have up for publication. That way the time hasn't been wasted and your friends/family/colleagues can see that you have produced something worthwhile along with an MPhil.


Hi PhDSoup,

just over 10 years ago I felt exactly as you do now. I could have written your post, almost word for word. I was half-way through a part time PhD and by that time hated almost every moment of it. I felt I wasn't getting anywhere and had a lot of problems with one of my supervisors. And yet everybody I talked to reacted pretty much the same as you have described. I kept going for a few more months, until I decided I really couldn't continue any longer, for the sake of my sanity. I honestly never regretted withdrawing from the PhD. I only regretted not doing it sooner! It totally knocked my confidence and it took me until now to even consider another PhD. (I have just started another PhD, full time this time and fully funded - like you I had no funding before - and with two fab supervisors.)

For me, withdrawing from the PhD was definitely the right decision at the time. I still remember the feeling of relief when I finally made the decision. Having said that, it might not be the right decision for you now - but only YOU can know that. :) I really feel for you though, it is difficult. Especially when everybody else seems to think you're making the wrong decision.

Good luck with whatever you decide!


Thanks for your posts. And good to know that I am not the only person feeling like this. I know it has to be the right thing for me and Im fairly sure that it is. Although that may be more of a financial concern than not being happy with the course/ my work.

Perhaps everyone ambushing me before I get to the paperwork is good, but Im really worrying about the decision now!


I'm another person who withdrew from a PhD a decade or so ago. In my case I was full-time, funded, and the reason for withdrawing was becoming seriously ill long-term (turned out to be a progressive incurable disease, though I didn't know that then), and my funding council refusing to support a switch to part-time study which I couldn't afford to self-fund.

Leaving was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. But once I made it I was 100% convinced that it was right. I went through quite a painful grieving process for my PhD, particularly because my husband was going on to complete his PhD in the same department (not that I didn't want him to, but it complicated things). But I never doubted my decision.

Good luck!


Hi PhD Soup,

Just wanted to say, I agree with what the others say below.

As far as I'm concerned I am fairly sure I will stick to the PhD until the end, but that's because I have had the experience of dropping off a course before and have learnt from it.

I stopped a PGCE - which I would have had - in April a few years ago. There were only two months left but I had been considering quitting for a while, and since then I've thought it's one the best decision I have ever made in my life, although extremely painful and difficult at the time. I suppose you need to weigh it all up in your head - is your course worth so much frustration/stress/unhappiness?

The opinion of others does not matter, the experience is yours. Only thing I can say is this: when I was considering quitting my course, everybody was trying to talk me into staying. Then I did quit as I felt my sanity was at stake. As soon as I'd quit I got... congratulations. Yep. Most of my friends and teachers found I'd been really brave to find the courage to quit (it's not easy!), and above all they found I immediately looked much happier and healthier after quitting. That is, even if I actually had not choice but to go work on a building site after this and they found I was completely out of place :p

I guess what I'm saying is, forget about what the others think. They'll always influence you, one way or another, and stir you away from your own feelings and convictions.

Good luck :)


Have a read of Guitarman's posts - he agonized over quitting, but did it, and has never looked back.


It is always good to listen to what people say and in contrary to previous posts I believe it does matter. It doesn't mean that you have to follow what others tell you. The decision is yours. I cannot understand, however, how people who, surly must know how difficult this time is for you make you feel even more guilty. I don't understand people who have a 'courage' to tell someone to quit or continue their PhD. It is such a personal and important decision. To me it is as important as decision about marriage or divorce, etc. By telling you what to do one day or another, will they take the responsibility for you, for how you feel, take the consequences or this or other choice? I don't think so! But back to you...:-) I've been having the 'quitting' thoughts twice (I'm half way through). I am now in the rather 'unhappy' state of mind. I am exhausted physically and mentally, I lost self confidence and I am terrified how the time is passing by and what seems to be far (deadline!) really isn't etc. But I am not thinking of quitting, not yet! Not again! There are only few things I would suggest you to consider before you make any decision: 1. Is there a possibility that you simply have enough because you worked to hard and it is temporary? Maybe then you simply need a total break (perhaps a month) from your PhD 2. What will you do next? Is what you would do, if you quit, interesting to you, makes you feel excited, relieved that you can focus on it rather than struggle with PhD? 3. Talking to people that REALLY know you would be useful, they might help you to analyze the 1st point.
Good luck! It's your life and your decision. Look at it as something positive not destructive!