PhD Offer: Should I Accept, Defer, Suspend, Reject?

posted
17-Mar-15, 12:47
edited about 8 minutes later
by samhort
Avatar for samhort
posted about 4 years ago
I've been given a firm offer to start a PhD at my alma mater on a topic of great interest to me, which the school is also world renowned for their work within. This offer is likely to have a scholarship attached, covering all my fees and also offering a reasonable level of maintenance. The perfect opportunity, except...

I am also following the route to becoming a barrister (legal advocate), and am having enough success to be confident enough to apply to take the Bar exam. This must be done within 5 years from completion of your undergraduate law degree, and cannot be taken after this deadline.

This leaves me with a dillema. If I take the PhD, I will start this summer (2015) and complete in July 2018. This would mean a start date for the Bar exams of September 2018, but unfortunately this is 2 months past the deadline. However, even if I don't start the PhD, I cannot begin the Bar exams until September 2016 and completing in July m2017, leaving me a whole year free.

I am wondering about the possibility of somehow still doing both, but obviously cannot defer my start for 2 years. I therefore wonder whether it is possible to suspend my PhD for a year part way through in order to take the Bar exams (would this mean losing the scholarship funding?). It seems my only other option is to reject the PhD in order to take the Bar exam. Anyone have any thoughts?
posted
17-Mar-15, 13:35
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From samhort:
I've been given a firm offer to start a PhD at my alma mater on a topic of great interest to me, which the school is also world renowned for their work within. This offer is likely to have a scholarship attached, covering all my fees and also offering a reasonable level of maintenance. The perfect opportunity, except...

I am also following the route to becoming a barrister (legal advocate), and am having enough success to be confident enough to apply to take the Bar exam. This must be done within 5 years from completion of your undergraduate law degree, and cannot be taken after this deadline.

This leaves me with a dillema. If I take the PhD, I will start this summer (2015) and complete in July 2018. This would mean a start date for the Bar exams of September 2018, but unfortunately this is 2 months past the deadline. However, even if I don't start the PhD, I cannot begin the Bar exams until September 2016 and completing in July m2017, leaving me a whole year free.

I am wondering about the possibility of somehow still doing both, but obviously cannot defer my start for 2 years. I therefore wonder whether it is possible to suspend my PhD for a year part way through in order to take the Bar exams (would this mean losing the scholarship funding?). It seems my only other option is to reject the PhD in order to take the Bar exam. Anyone have any thoughts?


The above for me is an absolute no brainer. Take the bar exam as this is your bread and butter.

If you feel you want to tackle a PhD later, then revisit this option at a time that suits you once the bar exam is complete.

I know this means losing the funding, but I'm sure other funded projects will come along. Also, once qualified, the money you'll be raking in cannot be ignored. Time permitting, you could look at PhD part-time once qualified and practising.

Ian
posted
17-Mar-15, 13:43
edited about 5 seconds later
by samhort
Avatar for samhort
posted about 4 years ago
Thanks Ian. You are correct that the bar exam is the priority, and if no workaround can be arranged I will certainly be taking the bar exam and ditching the PhD offer. I was just wondering if there may be a possibility to take a 'year out' during the PhD, allowing me to complete the bar exam in time. Maybe I'm being too abitious!
posted
17-Mar-15, 14:01
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
Or, start the PhD (at least you will be paid for a year if nothing else) and then hope you can suspend your studies for the bar exam / go part time. If not, you will have only lost a year, but bear in mind it might be difficult to get another PhD in the future.
posted
17-Mar-15, 14:06
Avatar for kikothedog
posted about 4 years ago
Start the PhD, it's crazy to be out of work/study while you wait for the next chance to sit the bar exam. Work it so you can take a time off to study for the exam and depending on results then decide what to do next.
posted
17-Mar-15, 14:11
edited about 14 minutes later
by samhort
Avatar for samhort
posted about 4 years ago
I would certainly have to either suspend my PhD for a year or quit, as the Bar exam (BPTC) is an intense, full-time, year long qualification. I'm worried that quitting a PhD after a year, even with good reason, will look like poor commitment and damage my opportunities in the future.

Is the possibility of suspending my research something I could ask the University about in advance, to make my intentions clear?
posted
17-Mar-15, 14:44
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From samhort:
Is the possibility of suspending my research something I could ask the University about in advance, to make my intentions clear?


You could try and find out unofficially in advance, but I doubt they would accept you if they know you are going to suspend your studies. You are usually allowed to do this, but it depends whether they will think you have a good enough reason to do so. Usual reasons for suspending studies are things such as illness, pregnancy, deaths in family etc, although I have heard of someone that suspended their studies to get married and go travelling, so it is possible.
posted
17-Mar-15, 15:13
by samhort
Avatar for samhort
posted about 4 years ago
I have a firm offer, so I'm not sure they could refuse to accept me at this point. They could refuse to allow me to suspend studies, meaning I would have to quit the PhD.

In terms of getting in touch with them unofficially, I'm not sure who I could contact in this way. The research is officially offered by the Business school, but will be done in colaboration with the Law School and two research institutions attached to the University, with the funding coming through one of those research institutions. I suppose I could raise the question with a lecturer I know, but she is only a general member of staff at the Law School and not in any way linked to my research...
posted
17-Mar-15, 15:29
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
Maybe just see if you can look around on the website and access the student handbook or something as it should be mentioned in there.

The policy will be for the whole university/department, but it will implemented on a case by case basis.

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