In the first year of my Ph.D. this year, I am at a Canadian University. Previously, the background has always been in the direction of Mathematics , and both masters and undergraduates are mathematics.

​​I now want to quit the following considerations when reapplying for a new PhD program:

​​Currently, what I am doing in the Statistics Department with my current supervisor is stochastic analysis, which I have never been exposed to before. So I have been learning basic knowledge for the past year, and I feel that I have learned well. I have also studied in the Graduate course. Research progress has been made in recent months, but currently has nothing to do with statistics.

​​I don’t have much interest in the current research. My previous master’s work was on discrete probability, and I co-authored a thesis with my master’s supervisor at the time.

​​The funding in the department is too small. After deducting tuition fees, there is still rent, which is not enough for daily living expenses. Moreover, our department does 6 TAs a year.

​​Before the first year of our department, there was a qualify exam. A professor of the exam method assigned you an essay, let yourself find a statistical problem that can be simulated, and write a report and defense within three weeks. The final result also failed because that the problem I was looking for was not enough statistical. The articles assigned by other students are all classic statistical articles, which include simulation. Some simple regression models. I feel that this exam is very unfriendly to students with a mathematical background or who want to do theory.

​​My current thinking is to quit this program now, and plan to re-apply for a Ph.D. program in a Canadian/US university in mathematics or machine learning. Currently looking for 2023 fall admission, if it is 2023 spring admission is better.

Can you give me some suggestions?

Withdrawing from the first-year program, what explanation is required to not hurt my reapplication?

  • what does “our department does 6 TAs a year” mean? Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 2:08
  • @ZeroTheHero Each term we need to do two TAs (two courses). There are three terms in one year. So we need to do 6 TAs.
    – Hermi
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 18:50
  • I'm surprised that if you have to TA for six sections per year that you are charged any tuition. That would be unusual (in US, at least).
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 19:02
  • @Buffy This situation is common in Canada.
    – Hermi
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 19:21

1 Answer 1


Given what you say this might be difficult. The only issue I see is that you will want a good letter of recommendation from your current advisor since the time is short (2023). You don't say anything about your relationship with them, but doing poorly on the qualifying exam might be an issue.

If there are other faculty members who think highly of you and can write a very supportive letter then it might not matter how strongly your current advisor supports you.

But wanting to move to a different area is always a valid reason for quitting a program that doesn't meet your needs. And insufficient financial support is another.

You will need good letters to move on. Without those it will be difficult. With them, the rest shouldn't matter too much when changing research directions.

  • I was able to get a letter of recommendation from my advisor when I was in my Master's program, and we worked together on an article that has been accepted by a journal. I feel that I may not be able to get any letters of recommendation from my current supervisor, since we haven't had any research collaboration. I'm not sure I'll be able to get letters of recommendation from other professors, even though I got good grades in all five courses.
    – Hermi
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 19:25
  • I still have one more time to pass the qualify exam, what if I pass?
    – Hermi
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 19:28
  • Then you have choices to make. But think long term about the career you want.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 19:38
  • I am now transferring from a PhD program to a Master's degree. I have also gotten letters of recommendation from other professors in the department. Do you think this situation will be beneficial to my application? I am already planning to reapply for the PhD.
    – Hermi
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 20:21
  • Looking forward to your reply!
    – Hermi
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 18:18

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