I am an international student at a university in the UK. I am pursuing a fully-funded PhD, I have almost finalised my first year and am due to take my confirmation exam within two months. However, the past few months was truly a dilemma that I really don't want to continue longer. It has affected my mental health so much that I really need support from a psychologist soon.
My field of study has completely changed from what I did in my bachelor and master. I work with a very demanding supervisor who never supports me in learning and only cares about publications. When I face challenges and ask him questions he just says his duty is not to solve my questions. He pushed me for publishing three-four papers in this first year, the stress I have had was just unbearable. Also as I fail in committing a deadline he sends me threatening emails that he will escalate me to the department head. He keeps comparing me with other students who are experts in this area and have achieved very good results so far.
Also, I really don't like this new field of study and feel like a stranger in the department is working in it. The environment is toxic full of crazy competition for publication and there is almost no chance for teamwork or collaboration.
All this convinced me not to continue this situation anymore.
My question is that can I withdraw from my PhD and get a master degree from this university instead? Considering I have enough results to submit a master dissertation. If yes do you recommend doing the withdrawal before my confirmation exam? or better to first pass the confirmation exam and then request for quitting?
I am sorry to hear about your situation. From the sounds of it you have made the right decision to leave such a toxic environment. To answer your question, yes you should be able to easily Master out. I would talk with your graduate department or your student handbook on the procedure and see what you have. Generally it is pretty straight forward as long as you have some data at least with a semi-decent write up. Although I would consider your financial situation before deciding when to leave. There is nothing immoral continuing with the PhD as long as possible simply for the money while you apply for jobs or decide what to do. It is easier to move on from your PhD when you still have a monthly stipend.
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