Let us assume person X and person Y. Both entered grad school in the same year, X as a PhD student (without a prior masters degree) and Y as a masters student in the same field. Towards, the end of second year, X realized that a PhD was too much for him and decided to quit but was eligible for a masters degree ( he had enough credits to do so). Both X and Y graduate with a masters degree with good grades. Let's assume both of them were nearly equally matched in their profile ( w.r.t. projects, internships e.t.c). Who would a recruiter prefer for a technical position at their company : X or Y ?

  • Is this question about academia or is it about industry? Apr 8, 2020 at 3:05
  • Depens on recruter! Some will think X failed, some not. You might want to ask in the Workplace Stack Exchange forum
    – user111388
    Apr 8, 2020 at 5:28
  • is there practical problem you are trying to solve? Right now your Q is very hypothetical Apr 8, 2020 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


For recruiter it is better that candidate would not have any scientific relation at all. Reason for this is that "working for salary" differs greatly from "work for passion". You can possibly become passionate in the future and leave your workplace company, which is considered a risk. Risks reduce your value for recruiter. It is in your best interests to hide out unless specifically asked any freelance/science/grants and other sources of money you have. Same is about your stake in companies and other similar things.

PS. You may possibly mention your scientific papers during interview with your real future boss to boost your value, but only if you generally know that the company is innovative or technology oriented. Sadly there is zero use for your scientific experience otherwise. Boss-type people do not understand science and never will. Expect nothing, generally this considered a very risky move during your interview. Not because people may become interested and ask you about your work, but because generally company people hate smarties. Remember it.


I assume the job does not require a PhD.

The recruiter will usually not know the difference between X and Y unless X tells them.

If X tells the recruiter that they quit their PhD and got a master's, the recruiter's main question would be: why is X telling me this unnecessary information?

  • 1
    The difference between X and Y is that X has a gap in their resume between receiving their Master's degree and looking for a job.
    – Brian
    Apr 8, 2020 at 17:33
  • @Brian Not in the case of the question: X only gets a masters when he decides to quit his phd. Apr 8, 2020 at 19:45
  • @FedericoPoloni: You're right. I misread the OP's explanation.
    – Brian
    Apr 8, 2020 at 20:57

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