Deferring a PhD by 1 year after accepting offer Watch

TMarl
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I have accepted a fully funded PhD offer from a very good university. In the meanwhile I have managed to secure a masters offer from another very good university.

The opportunity to attend two of the worlds best universities is a huge decision that will affect my future in a very significant level.

Also, if something where to happen in the 4 years of my PhD (change in supervisor or personal circumstances) which would prevent me from completing the PhD, I would still have a Masters under my belt if I pursue both opportunities.

I would therefore like to defer my funded PhD start date to next year, in order to do the masters. Rather than do one or the other.

I would like your opinion and I would also like to ask for possible consequences of such an action, and how best to approach it.

(I note that suspensions of studies can be available for exceptional circumstances(including work/career opportunities). I would class the masters as a career opportunity, given that is at one of the world's best university and career focused with many industry links.)

How do I very convincingly request to defer my studies by one year to pursue a career-enhancing masters?
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username2320815
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I suspect it's not going to be possible for you to defer a funded PhD because the money is earmarked for use this year - there may be some exceptions in place for extenuating circumstances, but chances are you'll be told if you don't accept it this year you'll have to apply again (I've heard of similar occurrences). Still, you might as well have a go - all you can do is explain your situation and ask what your options are. If deferring isn't an option then it isn't an option, and there won't be any way to convince them.

Of course, if that is the case, you might decide to take the funded master's and re-apply for PhDs afterwards - after all, if you were successful this year, you've probably got a good shot next year. But it's a risk, and with PhD funding already so hard to come by, whether it's a risk you'd be willing to take is something to consider carefully.

Best of luck!

p.s. probably worth mentioning that, if you did end up not completing the PhD for whatever reason, you could probably leave with an MPhil at an earlier stage - so that's something to consider when weighing against the masters.
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artful_lounger
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The above is very good advice OP, but to add to that:

"Career development opportunities" in the frame of a PhD means "industrial secondment during the course of the PhD" normally. I highly doubt they will even consider a request to do a 1 year masters at another institution, since they've made you an offer and clearly believe you are of the appropriate academic calibre to pursue the PhD without the masters. Additionally, it's comparatively rare for students to not complete a PhD, and as above normally a masters is earned "en-route" to the PhD itself anyway, and can be claimed as an exit award if you can't complete it.

You should reflect on what you actually want to get out of this PhD opportunity. "Collecting" degrees is meaningless, and a standalone masters isn't likely to change a companies decision to hire or not hire you if you have a PhD. As above, the issue of not completing the PhD is realistically a non-issue. Equally though, if you're only doing the PhD to add a line to your CV, you would be better off doing the masters and not bothering with a PhD at all, as that would suggest you've missed the point of what PhDs are for - and you aren't likely to get much out of the process and you are much more likely to be in the very small number who leave the PhD before completion, because you haven't adequately understood the nature of the qualification and why one ought pursue it.
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TMarl
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(Original post by laebae)
I suspect it's not going to be possible for you to defer a funded PhD because the money is earmarked for use this year - there may be some exceptions in place for extenuating circumstances, but chances are you'll be told if you don't accept it this year you'll have to apply again (I've heard of similar occurrences). Still, you might as well have a go - all you can do is explain your situation and ask what your options are. If deferring isn't an option then it isn't an option, and there won't be any way to convince them.

Of course, if that is the case, you might decide to take the funded master's and re-apply for PhDs afterwards - after all, if you were successful this year, you've probably got a good shot next year. But it's a risk, and with PhD funding already so hard to come by, whether it's a risk you'd be willing to take is something to consider carefully.

Best of luck!

p.s. probably worth mentioning that, if you did end up not completing the PhD for whatever reason, you could probably leave with an MPhil at an earlier stage - so that's something to consider when weighing against the masters.
If I were to decline the PhD, despite already accepting, and re-apply after a masters, would the institution view me negatively and not give me a offer (i.e., `we gave you an offer last year which you turned down, why should we give you one again?`) or are they quite understanding?

I applied to both at the same time but heard about the masters a week after the PhD funding deadline. If I had heard about the masters outcome before the PhD funding deadline, I would of declined the PhD outright to pursue the masters and then re-applied the next year for PhD.

I'm just worried about hurting my relationship with the institute/supervisor if I wish to re-apply next year
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username2320815
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(Original post by TMarl)
If I were to decline the PhD, despite already accepting, and re-apply after a masters, would the institution view me negatively and not give me a offer (i.e., `we gave you an offer last year which you turned down, why should we give you one again?`) or are they quite understanding?

I applied to both at the same time but heard about the masters a week after the PhD funding deadline. If I had heard about the masters outcome before the PhD funding deadline, I would of declined the PhD outright to pursue the masters and then re-applied the next year for PhD.

I'm just worried about hurting my relationship with the institute/supervisor if I wish to re-apply next year
Unfortunately there's no way of knowing if it'll hurt your chances - perhaps it will, perhaps not. I wouldn't be surprised if it did tbh, but maybe I'm just being pessimistic. Really there's no way of knowing without having an honest conversation with your supervisor - who knows, maybe they'll think it's a great idea and encourage you to re-apply!

If you end up not being able to do this PhD because turning it down for the master's burned your bridges, do you think you'd regret your decision? If so, it might not be worth risking it. If not, that's a good indicator to follow your gut and do the master's.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by TMarl)
..........
Take the advice above, every funded PhD student is capable of getting a good Masters offer. A funded PhD is worth much more than any Masters, you are over-thinking from the perspective of someone who holds neither. In my experience you've got little or no chance of being taken seriously in trying to defer a funded PhD or in presenting the Masters as career enhancing unless it's instead of the PhD.
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TMarl
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Take the advice above, every funded PhD student is capable of getting a good Masters offer. A funded PhD is worth much more than any Masters, you are over-thinking from the perspective of someone who holds neither. In my experience you've got little or no chance of being taken seriously in trying to defer a funded PhD or in presenting the Masters as career enhancing unless it's instead of the PhD.
What if you are unsure of the PhD? I know that if the PhD isn't working out, you can exit after year 2 with a masters, but I'm worried my reference wouldn't be great if I were to do that.

At least with a masters it's only 1 year, so you can tough it out if it isn't what you expected and there is a variety of content. A PhD is one sole topic for 4 years...I'm starting to double-think everything after receving a masters offer from an equally superb university.

Also you can't go back to do a Masters after a Phd, but you can go up to do a PhD after a masters..so would a PhD be closing off the door to the masters uni?

What are your thoughts?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by TMarl)
What if you are unsure of the PhD? I know that if the PhD isn't working out, you can exit after year 2 with a masters, but I'm worried my reference wouldn't be great if I were to do that.

At least with a masters it's only 1 year, so you can tough it out if it isn't what you expected and there is a variety of content. A PhD is one sole topic for 4 years...I'm starting to double-think everything after receving a masters offer from an equally superb university.

Also you can't go back to do a Masters after a Phd, but you can go up to do a PhD after a masters..so would a PhD be closing off the door to the masters uni?

What are your thoughts?
There's absolutely no guarantee that you will get a Masters if you leave a PhD after 2 years, in fact it's pretty unlikely. You have to be able to convert what you currently have in the way of research into a Masters level document - at least at Cam you have to.

If you don't complete the funded PhD chances are you will be eligible for a Masters course because you won't have an equivalent qualification.

You can't really spend your whole life taking the short term option just in case you don't fancy it, it's not really the best option in love or learning!

It's a funded PhD, if you want a career in academia, there is no question to be answered.
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