I have taken a leave of absence from my PhD program due to health reasons and since my health has improved dramatically over the past year, I am seriously considering never coming back.

I have completed 3 years worth of classes but only completed one qualifying exam out of two, so I am currently not eligible for a Masters Degree from my program.

I already have a Masters Degree from a slightly less ranked school but in pretty much the same subject.

Would it benefit me to spend all summer to study for the other half of a qualifying exam to get the second MS?

From your experience, would employers look at me more negatively if I had dropped out without any diplomas from the degree or would it be worse to have two MS degrees in the same discipline?

  • Since most of us here have academic jobs, maybe Workplace SE would be a better place to ask what would look better for non-academic employers. (Personally, I don't imagine the MS would make a big difference one way or the other.)
    – Kimball
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


It's quite common for people to leave a Ph.D. program. In my experience, employers don't really see that as a negative; people leave for many reasons, and they'll likely rather focus on whether or not you learned anything while you were there that will help you do the job they're interviewing you for.

It sounds like you have a time-investment vs. reward tradeoff to consider here. A summer is not that long, but you may have to make some sacrifices in order to free up that time. A second MS in the same discipline is not going to help you very much at all, especially in industry jobs, unless there's something significant about it that makes it stand out (is it a thesis-based MS vs. a class-hours based MS, or perhaps it's slightly different but the difference in topic is something employers will respond to).

If you can delay a job search for the summer to get the second MS, and you'd like to cash out the "sweat equity" you've accumulated in your current program by getting a degree for it, then I don't think there's a big problem with doing that. If you didn't already have an MS, I'd say definitely get this one, but that's not your case. Just keep in mind that getting the additional MS is unlikely to open doors any wider for you, and not getting it is unlikely to close them.

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