quitting PhD


Dear all, I am 2.5 years into a PhD program at a top institution in Engineering. I have passed my qualifying exams 7 months ago and ever since finishing classes/quals and only focusing on research I have been very depressed. Progress is very slow, I realize that I may still be here 3 or more years from now and I am just not that interested in the day to day work in lab or in my topic. On top of that my partner is on the other side of the atlantic and I feel that getting a PhD prevents me from staring a life and settling down. Especially since I am not interested in an academic job, but rather want to work in industry (and not in a research department) in a company. I have tried to restructure my day to day work, but I think what I really have a hard time with is the lack of day to day structure and the lack of a clear trajectory for how and when the PhD will finish and the lack of working in teams together with others . I enjoyed the pre-quals time with classes, and hence a clear structure and being around people much more and it's only the last 7 months when classes stopped and it is full time research that things got really bad. In fact I got so depressed and unhappy that I was crying almost every day and it got worse and worse for the past 7 months. Getting a PhD is really important to me personally, but at some point a few months ago the depression got so bad that I saw no other way out and I applied for a job in industry. I have several offers now and am wondering whether I should take them. After all I may regret not finishing the PhD at a top program (I have never quit anything in my life and usually stick things out til the end), which always has been so important for me - but on teh other hand I just cannot continue this way for another 2-3 years without getting serious health problems (and that would not be worth it either). Any suggestions?


Did you seek professional help for your depression, i.e. speak to your family doctor, or a counsellor, or someone? That might have helped things ease for you, and be more manageable. If it was me I wouldn't want to walk away without trying that. 2.5 years sounds like a long way through. How many years are you aiming for? Are you full-time or part-time?

Also a PhD could help you secure an even better job in industry. But you already have offers. It's really your choice.

I walked away from a full-time science PhD 14 years ago after falling seriously ill long-term, but not properly diagnosed at that point. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I went through a difficult grieving process for my lost PhD. But it was also the best decision I made.

But I still had unfinished PhD business. I recently completed a part-time humanities PhD.

Good luck!


Thanks, my PhD program takes 5-6 years in total. So I am half way or a bit less of the way through. I wonder whether other people are in similar situations or whether mine is particularly bad. In terms of being depressed, I don't think it's anything clinical at this stage as for the two weeks I went home over Christmas I was really upbeat and happy. It's as soon as I return to the lab situation when I feel really depressed and cry a lot. And that has gotten worse over the last months and I don't see it getting better without seriously changing something.

I am really not sure what to do.:$


I feel similar and i'm only 3 months in! Its the real lack of routine that gets to me. I also want to work in the industry and feel like I am putting my life on hold for 3 years, where I could be starting now. Not much advise i'm afraid, just wanted you to know you are not alone :). Hold in there, it may seem like 4 years is a long time, but in comparison to the rest of your life, it is quite short :). Plus if you start an industry job later, you have less time to get bored of it, thats what I tell myself anyways! Good luck


I'm currently in the last semester (I hope!) of my Ph.D. I've gone through a lot of what you describe, including the depression. I specifically started a therapy regimen to try to figure out whether I wanted to quit because I was a screw-up and couldn't handle it or because my adviser is terrible (he's very difficult to work with). It's caused a lot of tension in my marriage, too. In fact, I just registered for this forum because I was feeling down about my own situation and wanted to try to find a way to feel better.

I've got a lot of guilt about not working hard enough or putting in enough hours, even though I start working/thinking about my projects as soon as I wake up, and I don't really stop until I go to bed. This is all fueled by my adviser's admonitions that "You're falling behind" and "You need to block off all of your weekends to work" and "you're expected to be in the office 60 hours each week."

I can completely sympathize with your concerns about structure. I never fully appreciated taking classes until they were few and far between. I don't honestly know whether an industry job would be better than academics. I've heard both good and bad. At the very least, please do yourself a favor and be proud of the fact that you've got job offers. That's not an easy thing to accomplish in today's economy.


======= Date Modified 21 Jan 2011 14:19:12 =======
============= Edited by a Moderator =============
*Deleted- spam*



I got a serious problem. My two years have been wasted for a phd as I have withdrawn from my studies due to couple of reasons.
I dont trust my supervisor and her behavior.  Iam under much of emotional stress as I wasted my money also and borrowing from my sibling right now.
I have applied for another available project and waiting for its result. My supervisor is Irani and she sends me other projects to apply for and later I got to know as she is helping me thereby couple of other irani students also apply at it and my chances gets weak. She's always guides me to take loan instead of giving me job.

Even though I apply for phd outside the country it will take fresh start and a year or so to even get admission. Kindly require some information and guidance in this regard.



======= Date Modified 20 Oct 2011 08:42:05 =======
Hi Anum- I would recommended starting a fresh topic to ask this question, as more people will see it then.

Edit: OK, I'm an idiot, not sure how I resurrected that...