I finished my undergrad last year and joined this phd program in fall. I passed the qualifiers in December, and over the two semesters, I have completed all the necessary phd courses, taking no master's courses. Early in the year, I was contacted by a Professor in hep-exp to try out his group, as the group was looking for students. When I talked to him, he said that he would pay me as a GRA in the summers, and at the end we would have an evaluation. If we mutually liked each other, then I would formally join the group for my thesis. During the summers I worked on some project. My advisor was gone for almost the entire period, so I worked on some problem from another professor in the group. During the summer, I realized this was not what I really wanted to do. In hep-exp there is a heavy non-physical component that you must work through before getting to some interesting physics; comprising of programming among other things. I am actually quite proficient in programming, and I did the work i was assigned as they were paying me for it, but I decided I would not continue. When my advisor came back, he gave me the feedback that the group was impressed by my progress, blah, blah... I told him that I would like to take more advanced courses and it would take some more time for me to decide. He was not really happy about the courses I had registered for, one in Differential Geometry in the Maths department, and another of independent study of Lie Algebras with a phenomenologist outside the group. As GRA I am constrained to taking specific courses whose relevance and importance he could justify to his funders. I thought this was fair, so I asked what possibilities were there to discontinue my funding from the group. He told me to talk to the Graduate Advisor to discuss this, saying that I could switch to theory which has more freedom in terms of courses, or get a GTA if possible, with no research commitments. He warned me that job prospects for theorists were weak and the theoretical division of the department was not too strong or well funded either. Basically, he painted a bleak picture of the whole idea. He also said that all theorists in the department were phenomenologists, so the interests I described to him might not really be supported in the department. So I talked to the graduate advisor, and he pretty much confirmed this, telling me there weren't a lot of courses aimed at theorists, and they learn stuff from independent study and through projects. He said that GTA assignments were over and my best bet would be to continue in this group for atleast a semester. He urged me try it out, saying, maybe I might come to like it after all. I have put a lot of thought into this. The reality is this place might not offer what I want. I have decided it is best to leave. As I cannot pay out of my own pocket for the courses, being an international student, my options are either to drop out, or leave with the master's degree. If I drop out of a Phd program, I guess my career as a physicist would basically be over. How should I convince my department that I wish to leave with a Master's?