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Leaving grad school at this time?

  1. Jun 27, 2009 #1
    I have frequented these forums many times, but this is my first post. I am looking for advice, antidotes, or just suggestions on leaving graduate school in math (or any subject for that matter).

    Just a little about me: I majored in mathematics at an engineering school, but instead of taking advantage of that, I focused on mainly pure math. I was sure when I was a freshman that I wanted do research in a pure math subject. I got into a grad school that does very little applied research (there are not even any analyst around) with a teaching assistantship. I just finished my first year, and I really don't want to go back.

    My first year: I am not sure what happened. When the school year started, I started to have the feeling that I really didn't want to study the material anymore. But, nevertheless, I forced myself to study quite a lot, almost compulsively. I learned a great deal, but, ultimately, I started thinking more and more about leaving grad school.

    Now that we are in the middle of summer, I am desperately trying to figure out a way in which to not go back that makes sense. I started studying programming and applied to many jobs. But, it seems that moving away from the theoretical into something that will reasonably support myself will take more than a summer. With that said, I think my best option is an employable masters degree in a subject that is interesting, but of course, I would have to wait until at least next year because deadlines for applications have all passed.

    To me there are two options (and if you know of others I would really really appreciate the suggestion). These options are:

    1) Go back for one more year, but apply to some type of masters program for the next year. The benefit of this option is that I have a small but steady income from my teaching assistantship. The downside is that I have to mainly focus on math and I can't investigate other course work that would prepare me for a masters program.

    2) Don't go back, live at home and pay to go to school part time as a continuing education student at a university close to where I live. This is is an attractive option because of the academic freedom but I will not have any money unless I find a decent job. Then apply to a masters program.

    I know that some would say 1 is a better option because I am possibly a year away from a masters degree in math, but my university doesn't have the option of obtaining a terminal masters degrees as a get out package. No one has ever done it.

    Am I missing something? Or is this a pretty bad situation to be in especially while the job market is the way it is? Needless to say, It seems very unlikely that I would find a decent job right now.

    Any help would be really appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2009 #2


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    Do you know for sure that the masters route through option 1 is not available to you? I.e. have you actually spoken to anyone who has told you definitively that you will not be able to obtain a masters degree at the end of next year? Just because noone has ever done it doesn't mean that you can't.
  4. Jun 27, 2009 #3

    You're right, I should talk to someone first. But, I am worried about the process because I would be the first person to do it. In my experience, things like this will not be presented as a guarantee but as a maybe: "if you do this, this, and this, then maybe there is a chance that we can award you a masters." But, I will try to figure out the exact details if I can. Thanks.
  5. Jun 27, 2009 #4


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    A lot of schools do not allow you to apply for a terminal masters, but they may allow you to leave a PhD program with a masters.

    You should definitely check out this option.
  6. Jul 2, 2009 #5
    Agree with G01 - why not just stay in the program till you've earned your masters and then bail? Do you not acquire one in the process?

    The second plan sounds like a recipe for ending up in a crappy job you hate and a degree that'll never get finished. Just my opinion.
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