Quitting your doctorate
Occasionally people embark on a doctorate and then decide it is not for them. There is no stigma in quitting a doctorate, many people go on to have highly successful lives with no regrets. However, before you take any such decision try and talk to someone (not necessarily your supervisor) about what you are thinking. You may find it helpful to think through the following questions.
- why did you decide to do a doctorate?
- what has changed?
- what have you liked about studying for the doctorate?
- what have you particularly disliked?
- would anything be different if you had a different supervisor/ project/ department?
- is there anything external to your doctorate that is having an impact on this decision?
- what will you do instead of your doctorate?
- would this decision inhibit you in pursuing a career you were hoping to?
- how long have you got to go versus the time you have already invested?
- when do you need to make the decision by?
What options do you have?
- you can quit tomorrow and never look back
- you can renew your resolve and decide to keep going
- possibly change supervisor/ project/ department
- you can give yourself a time limit (I'll see how it goes for the next three months)
- you can ask to suspend your registration for an agreed period with the idea that you will return later
- submit earlier for an alternative qualification, such as a Masters.
Take the time to reflect objectively. If you delay the decision or suspend your registration, use the time to deal with the problems that are stopping you from enjoying the doctorate. Don't take the decision in isolation; use all the support you can draw on from your network such as family and friends but also institutional support mechanisms such as your departmental PGR tutor, counselling services or careers advisors.
Comment on this page.