Let's say that I was given unacceptable conditions for returning from medical leave; basically I had to self-fund at least the following year of a physics PhD. Knowing that doing so would result in a financial disaster, I am definitely withdrawing from the program, with the understanding that, if I still wanted to earn a PhD at some point, I would have to transfer.

I could always mention, in an addendum (if there is space for one), medical problems, going to medical services, such as a physician (on-campus and later off-campus) on a regular basis for 75% of the only semester I ended up attending, and leaving school to take better care of myself. (I feel I did what was right from a medical standpoint) But when there is no space for an addendum in an application, I was advised to just drop a line about "personal problems" or "extenuating circumstances" (now resolved) and I am excited to do research again.

And also, I have two publications on file by now, whereas I had none when I applied to PhD programs the first time around (2015 cycle). Because I do not feel my GRE scores were an issue, I do not feel the need to re-take the GRE, general or physics, since they are still valid. But TOEFL, on the other hand, I would have to retake because the scores are no longer valid.

P.S.: I never had Ws before that particular semester, but still somehow ended up with 3.80 for what coursework I still managed to complete. If you need more information about my file or anything else, please, let me know.

How will an early departure from a PhD program (in its early stages) due to medical reasons affect future PhD applications?


1 Answer 1


In the public and private R1 universities that I have been in, we do not accept transfers for doctoral students. If you're previously pursued a Master's or taken some graduate courses in the field as part of a doctorate at another institution, you can petition the department / graduate school for a partial waiver of some of the requirements after you've been accepted and matriculated into the doctoral program.

For example, you might be able to petition out of some of the breadth or depth core course requirements; or request that your years-in-residency be reduced.

Note that because many programs run students in cohort-years, there may be good reasons why you may elect to run the standard pattern even if you've had a waiver of some requirements.

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