I am doing a 9-month master's program in physics at a very top UK university. However, after completing the first two semesters, I found myself very unhappy with the program itself. I don't feel like I enjoy my life here as I really need to spend almost all of my time studying for the exams and writing my essays. I also got quite frustrated as I failed my January exam (the exam is the only way they evaluate you). I still have a chance to pass the course and eventually get a decent grade when I graduate, but that requires an even higher amount of effort and time commitment.

I am thinking about dropping out of the program, not because I'm not motivated in the subject (I'm still really passionate about theoretical physics), but just because the program is so intense that makes me unhappy. My question is will there be bad consequences in terms of my academic journey if I decide to leave my current master's program? I honestly don't know if I will be able to get my degree in the end because the course has been so challenging. So I don't know which of the consequences: 1). Drop out from the program and leave. and 2). Continue the program but eventually have an unpleasant result. will cause less harm if I still want to pursue a career in physics.

Thanks for the help!

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    I am doing a 9-month master's program in physics at a very top UK university. However, after completing the first two semesters -- Maybe clarify this (provide the number of months completed and the number of months remaining), because in the U.S. it is quite standard for two semesters to extend through (and not beyond) 9 months. Maybe you mean "two quarters"? Mar 16 at 17:24
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    @DaveLRenfro the word "quarter" in this sense is not used in the UK. The academic year is divided into three terms, or two semesters. I suspect the OP means they have completed two terms, as we are approaching the end of the 2nd term (Easter) now. Mar 17 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


In general, dropping out of a program won't have bad consequences if you leave on good terms and can still get good letters of recommendation from a few faculty.

However, I suggest that you don't take such a step until you are clear about the alternatives and have an opportunity to take advantage of at least one of them. Sitting out for a year can have consequences. But if you start the application process for another program while you continue in this one it might be possible to make a seamless transition.

An alternative is to spend some time with current faculty and explore why you are in the situation you are and try to develop a plan for success. You might just find that people can be helpful.

You might also talk to a health counsellor about burn out and how to avoid it in case that is the real issue.

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