I am currently enrolled in my fourth semester of my master's degree program in psychology and this should be my final semester. Due to issues stemming from myself and my relationship with my mentor, my thesis has been lagging behind the rest of my school work and I am just now preparing to defend my prospectus. While I am currently awaiting to hear back from Ph.D. programs, I am starting to consider an alternative plan to completing my graduate education and was wondering if anyone could help shed some light on this matter?

On the off chance that I get accepted into a doctorate program I am wondering if it is possible to leave my current graduate program without completing my thesis and proceed to enroll in said doctorate program? Are Ph.D. programs going to frown upon this decision? Will they still allow me to join the program? My present thesis is really not related to anything remotely close to what I want to study and I have had a very strained and borderline emotionally abusive mentorship experience at my present program and would prefer not to continue working with my current mentor if possible. I am assuming I will have to complete a new master's thesis on top of a dissertation while completing this possible Ph.D. but I just wanted to know if the option to leave one program and enroll in another is available? I would much rather spend more time completing a new thesis with research I care about and a mentor who will (hopefully) not be as abusive rather than finishing up a thesis late at my present program.


  • What country are you in? Will your PhD also be in psychology?
    – ff524
    Jan 19, 2015 at 7:44
  • Not getting a degree because of a supervisor is not wise. Complete the thesis ASAP (if possible) or change supervisors. \
    – Alexandros
    Jan 19, 2015 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


If you're in your last semester, the best path forward is to finish your MA thesis. Your dissertation does not need to follow directly from it, particularly if you're studying in the social sciences.

Finish the thesis for a few reasons. First, finish it for the MA degree. You've (presumably) paid for 3 semesters of coursework. Failing to finish would mean that, essentially, you've wasted the past three semesters. Second, finish the thesis for yourself. In 20 years, you won't care a whit about your strained relationship with your mentor, but you will care that you saw the program through, even when the going got tough. Third, finish the thesis so that you don't have to explain it in the future. People will wonder why you failed to finish your thesis, and it might cast doubt on your ability to stick through tough/challenging projects. Academia is a small place, and you don't want to be known as the guy who didn't finish his master's degree.

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