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OPT or PhD dilemma after MS

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Okay, so I'm sure this has been asked before, but I was not able to find the information I need so far, so I had to create a new topic. So the thing is I hopefully might get my MS in Summer 2018. Now since I was originally admitted to PhD program, as far as I understand, I can continue on PhD without any application or paperwork after I get my MS, but I was hoping to get a job after MS. For this purpose, I'd have to apply for OPT and quit PhD-that's how I understand this but I'm not sure.

Ideal option for me would be to be able to get OPT after getting my Master's and continuing with PhD and then leaving when I get a job. But I don't know if something like that is possible.

So my question: is that or something similar possible? If not, what kind options you guys would recommend?

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You need to talk to your school's International Students Office. You absolutely should not rely on internet sources of any kind when it comes to issues like immigration. That said, my understanding is that you can't work on a student visa, and it's not obvious to me that you can activate your MS-related OPT if you've moved to another program (but you should check that). In case you can, there's some processing time associated with the OPT and you can't start work until that's settled. So it seems to me that if you want a job, you need to be on OPT and do some serious job-hunting; and if you want the PhD, then continue with that plan. Staying in a PhD program until you find a job sounds like it could lead to several kinds of trouble.  -- And again, a disclaimer: I am not an immigration expert. Talk to your school. 

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Repeating the above that you should consult with your school's International Students Office for definite advice.

Some additional notes:

- Your current status is for your PhD program. This means you can only use OPT during the times where your program is not in session or after you complete your degree program (i.e. PhD). Since most PhD programs run year-long, I don't think you can use OPT until you finish your PhD. You also need to be in your current program for at least 1 year to be eligible for pre-completion OPT.

- However, while on a F-1 PhD program, there is something called CPT (Curricular Practical Training) which you could use to take a break from studies in order to do work relevant to your field of study and if it is part of your degree program (e.g. if your program allows you to go on internships, co-op, etc.). Most grad programs don't allow this, but just mentioning it in case. Talk to your international student office about this if you think you might qualify.

- You can change programs though. I think (again, check with experts) if you want to stop at the Masters degree, you should first change your program and your F-1 status to be on a Masters program. Then you can finish your Masters and graduate, allowing you to be eligible for post-degree OPT. This means that you need to reapply and get into a PhD program later, if you want to do that, which will put you on a new F-1 status for PhD program.

I think these are the main ways you can do some OPT before finishing your PhD. Again, talk to your international students office. Hope this info helps you to have some info before going in the meeting though!

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  • 2 months later...

I dont think it ethical for you to continue PhD just as a way of staying in the country till you find a job in industry. There are many students , even on this website that are working besides their disadvantages specially those from third world countries so that they can get into a PhD program and actually contribute to scientific research.

You should probably apply for a OPT it gives you 90 days to find a job and you should spend those looking for one full time...

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  • 3 months later...

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