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First Year PhD Student - Advice Needed!!


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Hi everyone! 

I am a first year PhD student studying Biochem and I am in desperate need of some advice! I will try to make this as short as possible.


I am just about to complete my first year and things have gone really well. I’ve done very well in all my classes and have been promoted to higher TA positions (I’m now in charge of 20+ TAs). Things are going smooth, which is awesome. However, I’m not sure if I want to pursue a PhD anymore as I think a master’s degree will better suit my future goals.


I am at the point now in the program where I need to start preparing for the preliminary exam. If I pass this exam, I move on towards a general exam and if I pass that, I then advance to PhD candidacy. These exams are only for PhDs, not MS students. Since I’m considering not to even do a PhD, I know I would be wasting not only my time, but also the time of others if I took the exam. Failing the pre-lim results in the student being removed from the PhD program but allowed to continue in the MS program.  


So, I’m at odds how to handle this situation. I’m not sure if I should tell everyone I want the masters or if I should just take the preliminary exam and see what happens. The reason I’m not sure how to go about handling this situation is because I’m not sure if they will cut my funding (tuition waiver and TA appointment) if I decide to “master out”. I am sure this is a possibility. My PhD committee have all signed a form to recommend me for re-appointment for the next year, but I’m not sure if that can be revoked. I’ve checked the handbook for more info and it is very vague, so that is also a little concerning as well. 


If it helps, I want to get the non-thesis MS because the current lab I work in simply isn’t what I expected and there is zero guidance from the PI, something I should have taken into account when rotating in the lab, but didn’t (naive first year PhD student I guess lol). 


Any advice as to how to go about approaching this is tremendously appreciated. This is something that has been eating away at me for awhile.


Thank you! 


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