I am possibly quitting my PhD. I am 2 years into my PhD and now I am writing a cover letter for an opening at a company. My question is, do I mention in the cover letter why I am quitting ? In my CV I just mention what I've done for the past two years and write that the PhD is not complete.

I feel like I need to mention it, because it feels like an elephant in the room. Also to avoid confusion I think I need to mention it. (e.g. They can think I tend to continue working on the PhD while I want to work there).

  • 3
    In some places saying "I want to work with you so much, that I will quit my PhD to do so." is a plus. And in all places you should put the emphasis on what you have learned NOT why you don't want to pursue it further. May 24, 2014 at 13:31
  • @Piotr Migdal Ok, thx for the tip ! May 24, 2014 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


Yes. They are going to see it in your CV anyway and if you say nothing, it just looks like you are trying to hide something and they are going to assume the worst. I would tell them the reasons why I quit (e.g. what to do something applied, ...).

  • I would say the best place for it is in an interview. The cover letter and resume are meant to get you to that point, they are not there to create doubt about your candidacy. Once you have the interview you can clear out any confusion, but you know they are at least somewhat interested in you because you have the interview. May 27, 2014 at 9:24

You don't put your reason for leaving on your resume, this is instead an issue to be addressed in a cover letter and/or the interview itself. Your resume is a positive document, describing your strengths and qualifications and is designed for the sole purpose of landing an interview.

Instead, the appropriate place to explain your current situation and reasons for applying is in the cover letter. Here you summarize your key qualification and why you are applying for the job. Mentioning your ambitions to develop a career taking precedent over your PhD program should explain your resume plenty.


Why not just list it as "Additional Graduate Courses Completed" .... Then put a list of the courses you completed.

Save the reasoning for the interview. There are many understandable reasons why people don't complete a Ph.D. {money, time, family, stress, other opportunities, etc. }

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