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Why did you leave graduate school?

  1. Dec 19, 2014 #1
    This question is geared towards anyone who started off graduate school, but decided not to continue. I especially want to hear from physics people, but anyone!

    After reading some threads and stumbling on an article that had short anecdotes of people who decided to leave graduate, I sort of wanted to hear from more people.

    This is the article: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/445...ph-d-students-reflect-on-why-they-jumped-ship

    This , in particular, from the article echoes often:

    "Though I had dreams of going into academia, I noticed that the instructors never discussed any other type of career path for us. At the same time, they would talk about how bleak the academic job market was. Then I began to question whether I would be able to land a job when I started applying for faculty positions. If they didn’t have hope, I thought, why should I?"

    Also this very recent thread requirements for career in academia: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...r-requirements-change-in-recent-years.788165/

    For the record, I am still applying to graduate school: PhD Physics and Master's in Engineering. I have not completely decided which career path to take so I am just giving myself options.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2014 #2


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    Money, a job/career, and a daughter on the way.

    Update/Edit: I should add that my first job out of grad school was a unique opportunity (including frequent travel to Europe and Asia, as well as throughout the US), which lead to other unique opportunities through some invaluable experience.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  4. Dec 20, 2014 #3
    I left because it wasn't justifiable to continue. The years of additional work didn't appear to result in much improvement in either my job prospects or my personal well-being. I decided a masters was the sweet spot and headed out.
  5. Dec 20, 2014 #4
    Thank you for the responses! I'm glad I am taking more time to figure out my career this time around. Didn't spend too much time on this when I was in undergrad.
  6. Jan 9, 2015 #5

    Quantum Defect

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    I know/knew several people who have gone on to interesting careers after leaving graduate school sans PhD. I think in most cases, the people who don't finish are the ones who see that for what they really want to do, the PhD does not matter. The people I know/knew went to work for tech companies [Amazon and Wofram in their early days...] In the private sector, I believe that you are judged much more for what you can do, not the beauty of your credentials.

    The PhD matters most for jobs where the "credentialism" is important -- higher ed; some government jobs, some private sector jobs, etc. Having a PhD is also no longer a guarantee of employment into the positions where it is required.

    Bottom line: People should do the PhD because they want to do the PhD. It is no guarantee of a particular job.
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