I am in a PhD program, and all I need to do is defend. There is still a little more work I need to do before this, but my degree is essentially finished. I have totally completed all other requirements (classes, qualifying exams, proposals, publications, etc).

In my field (engineering) it is common to immediately begin applying for jobs after the proposal. So, after many interviews, I was offered a job. They want me to start ASAP. I am thinking this will push my PhD defense back 1 to 1.5 years.

Anyways, on my resume, linkedin, etc I would rather say me PhD was 2009 - 2015 (6 years) than 2009 - 2016/2017. (7-8 years). Would it be acceptable to state that this year (2015) is my graduation year? I feel I'm selling myself short is I state 2016 or 2017 as my graduation year.

3 Answers 3


No, you can't state that 2015 is your graduation year. The year you graduate has a well-defined meaning -- it's the year the university confers your degree to you. Period. Writing that 2015 is your graduation year would be the same, ethically, as writing that 2013 is your graduation year just to make your resume look more impressive. Your resume will, correctly, indicate that you're working at the same time as completing your degree, which should be impressive enough for anyone doing bookkeeping on your dates.


You haven't graduated, or even fulfilled all the graduation requirements: it's unlikely but possible that you could fail the defense, and it sounds like you haven't even quite completed everything you need to do before the defense. Otherwise why would it take 1 to 1.5 years to reach that point, even while working full time?

You can give an honest description of your current progress towards finishing the degree (for example, that you have completed all requirements except the formal defense, if that is the case), but you should not exaggerate or suggest you have already graduated.


It's your CV, and you can write what you want on it. However, if you are asking whether it is any way honest or acceptable to others to list a graduation date which is not the accurate one because you think it will make you look better: of course not. That would be a form of academic dishonesty, and if you give inaccurate information to a future employer, it could itself be grounds for your dismissal.

There is some doubletalk in your question itself. No PhD degree is "essentially finished" before you finish and defend the thesis: that is the single most important (and most challenging) part. Moreover the idea that you are "essentially finished" is undermined by your estimate that your graduation date could be put off for a year or more. If you are really finished, then you can arrange to come back to defend your thesis...on a weekend or during your vacation time if need be.

A much more serious, responsible thing to do would be to discuss this with your employer. If it is common to look for people who say they are in their final year of their PhD and ask them to start working before they defend and graduate, then they must have some policies and opinions about how to do this. Moreover, since they are hunting among "almost PhDs" it seems very likely that they want you to get a PhD, which means they should act in a way that will allow you to finish the degree. If that is not the case, then having the PhD is not very important to them, and if it is important to you then maybe you should reconsider whether this is a good fit.

One final piece of advice: you are worried that by taking the job your graduation date will be pushed back unacceptably. In my opinion this is not a serious worry: people receive a PhD 1-2 years later in many circumstances. Even for an academic career taking a little longer to do a PhD is usually not a real issue. For an industrial career I think it would matter even less. Your real worry should be: are you sure you are going to finish your PhD at all? Going from "essentially finished" to "1 to 1.5 more years" makes me concerned on your behalf. Please make an explicit plan which leads to you getting your PhD in year X (whatever X) is before you accept the job...or accept that you may well be abandoning your PhD by taking the job.


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