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Leaving PhD (with assistantship) going to MSc


virtua

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Ok, I think I once asked similiar thing, but I didn`t manage to find that topic, and besides and I`m going to ask some new things.

 

Let`s say after 1 year I decide to leave the PhD program (with graduate research assistantship with full tuition) at the uni A

People told me that there might be problems with my transfer to another US university, but I don`t know specifically, what problems can occur and how I can avoid them. So here are my questions.

 

1. First of all, briefly, how would procedure of leaving a PhD program look like?

 

2. At the moment, I also have been admitted to another university B, but I deferred my enrollment for 1 year; well, actually it`s not deferment, they call it 'update', so they updated my application to Fall 2016 term, and there is no guarantee that I will be re-admitted, so they simply will re-evaluate it for another term. And they say that if I enroll in any course at the other university during that time, I will have to send an official transcript. Here is my question, if I enroll and don`t inform them and don`t send an official transcript, how will they know?

 

3. Now, as I said, let`s say, after 1 year I decided to leave PhD at the uni A (PhD) and plan to send official transcript to uni B (MSc). Will be there any problem?

Can my advisor or anyone from uni A create problems for this?

 

 

 

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1. First of all, briefly, how would procedure of leaving a PhD program look like?

 

Assuming that you are not leaving with a Masters degree, I don't think there is any set procedure. You will probably have to schedule a meeting with your advisor and perhaps with someone else at the program (DGS or department head come to mind) to inform them of your decision. They will likely ask you why you have decided to leave, and what your future plans are. You are under no obligation to tell them, but you might want to think of something to say nonetheless. If you stay in the same field and attend another school, they may find out. If you hide this information, they may conclude that something was fishy -- e.g. you never intended to stay at their school and therefore had ill intentions when joining, you abused their advising and funding, etc. On the other hand, if there is an explanation that makes sense -- e.g. your interests have shifted, or you want a degree they don't grant, or your career goals have changed, somehow making A less appropriate and B the place where you should be -- then they should understand. It's always better if you can have their support than if you burn a bridge.

 

 

2. At the moment, I also have been admitted to another university B, but I deferred my enrollment for 1 year; well, actually it`s not deferment, they call it 'update', so they updated my application to Fall 2016 term, and there is no guarantee that I will be re-admitted, so they simply will re-evaluate it for another term. And they say that if I enroll in any course at the other university during that time, I will have to send an official transcript. Here is my question, if I enroll and don`t inform them and don`t send an official transcript, how will they know?

 

Depending on the size of your field, one way people find out these kinds of things is that they talk to their friends. E.g. you apply to B; someone there calls your recommenders and asks about you and what you're doing now. Your recommender says you are currently studying at A. Another alternative: you may be asked what you are doing this year, if you withhold the fact that you are attending A from your CV. You tell a lie, and later get caught because details don't match or you forget them. Another alternative: you presented at a conference or wrote a proceedings paper this year, which shows A as your current affiliation. This information can be found on the conference website, your co-authors' CVs, etc. 

 

I highly recommend not starting a new program by being deceitful. If they ever find out, that could end poorly. 

 

 

3. Now, as I said, let`s say, after 1 year I decided to leave PhD at the uni A (PhD) and plan to send official transcript to uni B (MSc). Will be there any problem?

Can my advisor or anyone from uni A create problems for this?

 

Following up on the reply to your first question, if you burn bridges = upset people at school A in some profound way, it's conceivable that they could call up their friends at school B and dis-recommend you. I don't think it's a likely outcome, but it's not impossible. Probably more to the point, school B will probably want to have some explanation for why you are switching programs/degrees mid-way through. The concern would be that you can't follow through and might leave them as well, and therefore admitting you means wasting time and money resources that could be spent on a student that would actually stay the duration. This is especially true if you can't get any recommendation letters from advisors at school A, and there is no good explanation for the switch. It is much less of a concern if there is a reasonable-sounding story behind your decision and you have the support of your former advisors from A for the switch. 

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I echo everything fuzzylogician said.

I also want to address your question #2. Fuzzy already mentioned how School B might know and recommends not being deceitful. I also want to echo that to emphasize how important I think it is that we are honest in our applications. Integrity is crucial to academia and I believe the existence of academia requires all of us to act with integrity. We use public funding (e.g. taxes) to fund our schools, pay for our stipends, pay for our research expenses. We rely on fairness of peer review to communicate our work and evaluate our work. Researchers must earn the trust of both the general public and each other. So, in addition to the practical risks/dangers of getting caught in a lie, I also implore you to think of academia as a whole and think about the negative impact you can have on your (our) community if you act without integrity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Guys, I have just thought, what if I change my program from PhD to MSc within the same department?

Would I have to start over with courses or I could just continue with the courses I already took?

Would I have to pay for the courses that I took (when I was on assistantship) ?

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You need to check your departmental and university handbooks for information on this. It is likely that you wouldn't have to start over with courses, provided the courses you took toward the PhD will also count toward the MSc. You'd have to look at the specific course requirements for the MSc in your department to determine this. 

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Guys, I have just thought, what if I change my program from PhD to MSc within the same department?

Would I have to start over with courses or I could just continue with the courses I already took?

Would I have to pay for the courses that I took (when I was on assistantship) ?

 

Depending on your program, this might not even be allowed, or only allowed when you are "forced" to (i.e. in the event a student fails the qualifying or candidacy exams). So as rising_star said, you should check the handbooks for whether this is allowed because it should be clearly stated there. It will also depend on whether you are considered "finishing your program with a Masters", or "failed the PhD and admitted to a separate MSc track".

 

If it is allowed, it is unlikely that you will have to start over. It is also unlikely that you will have to pay for courses from the past, however, you should check the terms and conditions of your funding source! I know of some awards where if you remove yourself from the program in the middle of the semester/year, you have to repay all funding granted either from: 1) the end of the last semester fully completed or 2) as of the date you left the program.

 

However, it is possible that once you switch to the MSc track, future funding might no longer exist (although many places will still fund you until the end of the academic year as you finish up projects / train your replacement etc.).

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Depending on your program, this might not even be allowed, or only allowed when you are "forced" to (i.e. in the event a student fails the qualifying or candidacy exams). So as rising_star said, you should check the handbooks for whether this is allowed because it should be clearly stated there. It will also depend on whether you are considered "finishing your program with a Masters", or "failed the PhD and admitted to a separate MSc track".

 

If it is allowed, it is unlikely that you will have to start over. It is also unlikely that you will have to pay for courses from the past, however, you should check the terms and conditions of your funding source! I know of some awards where if you remove yourself from the program in the middle of the semester/year, you have to repay all funding granted either from: 1) the end of the last semester fully completed or 2) as of the date you left the program.

 

However, it is possible that once you switch to the MSc track, future funding might no longer exist (although many places will still fund you until the end of the academic year as you finish up projects / train your replacement etc.).

 

I didn`t quite get you, so do you mean that if I leave PhD  and even if I`m not going to switch to MSc at the same uni I might be required to repay them all the funding that I had been payed??

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I'll give you an example (with some details/numbers changed) of something that happened to another graduate student:

 

Student has a scholarship that comes with the condition that you remain a student in order to receive the money. The scholarship is worth $30,000 per year and it is paid out in three installments: On Sept 1, you get $10,000 to cover Sept to December, on January 1, you get $10,000 to cover January through April, and on May 1 you get $10,000 for May through August.

 

So, the student enrolls in September, gets the first $10,000, completes the full semester, gets the second $10,000 on January 1, but then halfway through this semester, on March 1, they decide they want to quit school. Since they did not complete their January-April semester, they become ineligible for the second $10,000 installment. They must then pay back the $10,000 received on January 1 because they did not fulfill the conditions of the award. 

 

Another thing that might have happened (I've seen this as a condition of other awards, but do not know about it actually happening) is the student might be required to pay back only $5,000, which is the amount of the award already paid out for March and April. 

 

So, you should check the terms and policies of your funding source. 

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Ok, but you are talking about scholarship, I assume the things are different with assistantship, since in that case you get funding in form of salary for your job, correct me if I`m wrong.

I think it should have been mentioned in my offer if that was the case, right?  I didn`t see anything like that in my offer. 

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Ok, but you are talking about scholarship, I assume the things are different with assistantship, since in that case you get funding in form of salary for your job, correct me if I`m wrong.

I think it should have been mentioned in my offer if that was the case, right?  I didn`t see anything like that in my offer. 

 

I originally said "awards" when talking about this potential outcome.

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Is this all hypothetical or are there actual universities involved?

 

Why are you already thinking about leaving university A? I'm assuming that you haven't begun yet. If this is just a contingency plan in case, then that's one thing, but I personally think it's a bad idea to attend a doctoral program with intentions to drop out.

 

Your situation with university B is simply that they keep applications on file for one year. Most colleges do this; in fact, I think it's a requirement of a law. It doesn't make you more or less competitive for future application cycles; it'll be like applying for the first time all over again. If you got in once you'll probably get in again, but it's no guarantee.

 

Leaving a PhD program for another is not like applying the first time. The new program (B ) usually wants some kind of confirmation that you are leaving voluntarily - not getting kicked or forced out because of poor grades or interpersonal issues. That usually means they'll want a recommendation letter from someone at A - usually your advisor, but another professor could work too (although it is often a red flag if your advisor doesn't write you a rec and the other recommender doesn't explain why). The rules might be a little more relaxed for an MS program, although it depends. Some smaller academic MS programs might be similar to doctoral programs and others may not care as much.

 

Also, remember that if you are planning to leave a PhD program after 1 year, you'd have to start applying in the fall, before you've spent very much time in the PhD program at all and before you've given it a chance. If you're planning to leave after you've been in the PhD for two years, then it might be more prudent to finish an MS along the way at the PhD program and drop out (assuming that your doctoral program gives MS degrees along the way - most do).

 

If your other topics are any indication you're an international student studying on a visa, so transferring/reapplying also presents issues with that, too.

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