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I started my PhD upon the acceptance to my current university because this got so many people excited about me, and I didn't want to disappoint them. I finished my PhD coursework with excellent marks, and I made speedy progress in my research which made my PhD supervisor very happy. However, my supervisor's research area is not something that I want to work in for the rest of my life and I got depressed because as a PhD student, I am working so hard, day and night, towards the outcome that I don't really want. I am currently in 2nd year of my PhD program.

I expressed this to my supervisor and he told me that he doesn't want me to make spontaneous decisions since I am doing so well in my PhD program and that I am making a speedy progress. My supervisor suggested me to take 4 month medical leave, and I took that offer.

However, more I think of my issue more I want to pursue my dream of working in Clinical Research Organization (CRO) as a statistician/statistical programmer. Over the break, I have successfully acquired industry professional certifications that CRO firms often look for, and I am ready to apply for entry-level jobs at CRO firm. I am still on the medical leave from my PhD program, although the leave is almost over (note: my medical leave is unpaid leave. All my TA/RA/Scholarship funding has been suspended during my medical leave).

When I resume my academic program in January (a new semester), I actually have no intention to continue in the PhD program. I will be applying for the job at CRO firms, and if I get a job I am intending to quit.

I am wondering whether I should just tell my PhD supervisor about my feelings/plans and quit the PhD program before I apply for any jobs? or should I remain as a PhD student even though I am not intending to stay in the program, until I get an actual job offer?

Thank you,

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    Are you completely committed to leaving the PhD program? Not my field, but it seems like a career in clinical research would benefit from a PhD, even if the PhD isn't in the exact area you want to pursue long-term.
    – cag51
    Dec 11, 2020 at 0:53
  • Also: is there any way to switch into a terminal master's track?
    – cag51
    Dec 11, 2020 at 0:55
  • Hello, in my country, a Master's degree is a requirement before entering a PhD program. So as a PhD student, I already have my Master's degree.
    – jschnieder
    Dec 11, 2020 at 1:13
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    Get a new job first, then quit. Dec 11, 2020 at 1:22
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    Thanks for info. I understand the job you're currently applying for doesn't need a PhD, but I think you should also consider the opportunities you might want to pursue 10+ years from now (the answer might well be the same, but it 's something to consider). At any rate, your actual question seems to be covered by Leaving PhD program to apply for industry job - better to apply while still officially enrolled? and/or How to tell my advisor that I am quitting my PhD....
    – cag51
    Dec 11, 2020 at 1:26

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