I just finished my 2nd year in a social science program and decided to stop. I received an MA at the end of this school year. I have decided to leave without finishing, however I do not want to leave the program without a job offer. So I hope to search for jobs (while completing an MS degree, which is over half way done now) in the next year and exit.

Here is my question. Although I will have two Master's degrees upon leaving the PhD program, will leaving the PhD program show on my transcript? Will that negatively affect my chance of getting a business-related job? You know, for people who recently graduated, companies will always look at their transcript.

Thanks a lot for the output!

  • 1
    Ask your university.
    – user35129
    Jun 7, 2017 at 15:59
  • 5
    Why does it matter? Deciding part way into a PhD that it is not the right thing for you, dropping out, and getting an industry job is quite common. It may even be the best explanation for two master's degrees. Jun 7, 2017 at 16:19
  • What is the definition of 'a social science program' and 'the PhD program'?
    – Karlo
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:25
  • 1
    Normal PhD attrition rates are anywhere between 50% to 66%, and at some institutions and in some fields is as high as 90%. It's common to decide not to finish a PhD, and I doubt anyone who cares will discredit you for it.
    – David
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:32
  • 1
    @Coder These are called PhD Attrition/Completion data. Individual fields typically have their own organization that tracks their data specifically, but some sources do aggregate this data into a larger whole. For example, the Taulbee Survey (google it) tracks all of this data for computer science PhDs. Individual departments also track this data, although I don't know if they consider it public knowledge or not. Here is a general survey I just found with a google search: phdcompletion.org/resources/cgsnsf2008_sowell.pdf
    – David
    Jun 7, 2017 at 19:33

2 Answers 2


Even if your transcript does not explicitly say "left a Ph.D. program," anyone who sees that you have two masters degrees in related areas can make a reasonable guess that you have left a Ph.D. program. It's also the sort of things that's reasonably likely to come up in discussion of your academic background.

If you are applying for industry jobs at an appropriate level (i.e., Masters or equivalent), this should not inherently be a problem. In some cases, it may even be a good thing---for example, if you left because you were more interested in focusing on implementation or real-world impact.

In short: if you have good reason for leaving your Ph.D. program and heading for a particular segment of industry, I would advise you to own that and embrace it as a positive part of why you are making a move towards the jobs that you are applying to.


Will leaving a PhD program show on my transcript?

If it is the policy of the university, it will.

Transcript, hmmm. It is almost like a Zen thing.

  1. If the interview goes well, no one cares about it.
  2. If the interview doesn't go well, no one cares about it.
  3. If you are self-employed, no one (including yourself) cares about it.
  4. If you don't have experience, no one cares about it.
  5. If you have experience, no one cares about it.
  6. You should not care about anyone who cares about it.

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