I left a PhD position that I did for a year and then changed to a different area in psychology, the subject I do my PhD in. I am just wondering how to put that unfinished PhD on my CV. After my current PhD, I would like to continue on academia and apply for postdoc positions, maybe even in the same university in which I dropped out but on a different department. So I don't know how could I put that antecedent on my CV so that does not really affect me later on. Or would you think that with my achievements during my PhD the previous academic history remains irrelevant? I was thinking I could just leave it as one year of research internship, but I am not sure about this.

3 Answers 3


What about something like this?


  • 2016-present, PhD student, psychology

  • 2015-2016, PhD student, underwater basket weaving

  • 2012-2014, BSc, underwater basket weaving


I think that since it will never be finished, put the work you did as "pursued PhD in and did the following: item1, item2" etc. I don't think it is required to put in the word "unfinished", as that is implied, but if someone asks, always be honest.

If/when the other PhD is finished, this should add credibility, not detract from it.

Have a friend/colleague review for suggestions.


I don't see the need to put unfinished things on a CV, especially if they're not relevant to your future. I recommend just listing fully completed or in progress degrees, with completed degrees listed with the year of completion. After all, you don't put unfinished and abandoned papers on your CV either. No one in psychology will care about an abandoned degree in whatever that you tried way back when.

  • 3
    A CV also documents what you did and who long it took. Either this year is missing or could be wrongly attributed to either the master thesis or the successful PhD.
    – usr1234567
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 21:49
  • 4
    The CV should be honest and comprehensive, and a year spent in a PhD programme is not something to be ashamed of and to sweep under the carpet. It should simply be listed above as suggested by @FedericoPoloni and can also be described in a narrative section as "I spent a year in a PhD programme at ..., acquiring skills in ..., but realised my real interest lay in ..., so I transferred to my current programme in ... Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 23:49

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