Why You Should Not Quit Your PhD Journey

The journey toward getting a PhD is not an easy one and many students even in the USA may experience challenges along the way. However, the benefits of completing a PhD far outweigh the difficulties. It is important to understand the reasons why quitting should not be an option. According to research, over 50% of students who enrolled in a PhD program have once or twice, or even more times considered quitting. I am not an exception. The reasons are most time burdened on finances, but I tell you, quitting is not the best option and for this reason, I will take you on a ride on the top reasons why you should not quit your PhD journey.

Before you make a rash decision and quit, please take some time to reflect on why you feel like quitting your PhD. Talk to family, friends, or student counselors about your feelings. Try to address the issues that are making you feel like you want to quit. If, after trying your best to resolve these issues, you still want to quit, then perhaps quitting your PhD is the right decision for you. But come on! I will never advise you to quit. PERIOD!!! Trust me you won’t quit after reading this article.

Are You Thinking About Quitting Your PhD?

You are not alone, many PhD candidates consider quitting their studies and there are many reasons for doing so. But it’s important to remember that the journey is worth it in the end. Many successful individuals have faced similar challenges and persevered despite the difficulties in their academic pursuits and continued on their path to achieve their goals and dreams.

In this post, we first list common reasons why people think about quitting the PhD, followed by reasons that motivate you to keep going, and finally, the last part is about making the right decision, something that is, of course, very personal, but we hope to provide you with some guidance on how to make that decision.

Related: Top 10 Factors Influencing Doctorate Completion

Taking a Break vs. Quitting Completely

Many PhD students encounter obstacles along their academic journey, leading them to feel stagnant or disconnected from their desired academic trajectory. While it is important to pause, reassess, and consider alternative paths outside of academia, quitting the pursuit of a PhD is a serious decision that should be reconsidered objectively. The long-term repercussions of such a choice, particularly after a significant investment of time, resources, and energy, may lead to regret. A PhD is more than just research; it is a transformative journey that cultivates valuable skills applicable to various facets of life.

Remember the reasons why you started this journey in the first place. If those reasons still hold a little bit of interest and motivation in you, consider taking a break rather than quitting completely. Talk to your supervisor about your feelings and discuss potential solutions that could help you rediscover your passion for research.

You have the control to make the necessary changes to your PhD journey so that it becomes a fulfilling and worthwhile experience. Just because it is challenging, it does not mean that you are failing. Think about what is best for you in the long run, both academically and mentally. The important thing is to not give up on yourself.

Why You Should Not Quit Your PhD Journey10 Reasons Why You Should Not Quit Your PhD Journey

Has your PhD journey made you lost for words? Do you feel like throwing in the towel and calling it quits? I believe you should not. Here are ten reasons why you should not quit your PhD journey even when you feel like you are ready to jump off the high-rise building.

#1. Increased Confidence

Earning a PhD will greatly increase your self-assurance. As you advance in your studies, others will acknowledge your expertise and abilities. Sharing your work at conferences, teaching undergraduates, and publishing research will further boost your confidence. In addition to academic skills, you will also gain transferable skills such as problem-solving, time management, and independence. These skills are highly sought after in the job market and will also contribute to increasing your confidence both academically and personally.

#2. Personal Satisfaction

Upon completing your PhD journey, it’s not simply about earning a degree. It’s the immense personal satisfaction that comes from conquering challenges, acquiring new knowledge, and mastering your field. It’s about demonstrating to yourself that you can set ambitious goals and relentlessly pursue them. This feeling of personal satisfaction is invaluable and will endure for a lifetime. Attaining a PhD will allow you to realize your full potential, gaining expertise that few others in the world possess.

This expertise can then be harnessed to make a distinct and significant impact on society. Regardless of size, all accomplishments bring a sense of fulfillment. It’s widely recognized that most individuals with different types of doctoral degrees cite personal satisfaction as the primary reason for completion. In the end, you will have achieved something that will benefit you for the rest of your days. Few people can see this opportunity through to the end. Don’t discount this reason; never underestimate the value of personal satisfaction. It is an investment you will cherish forever.

#3. Opening Doors for Further Research

Another reason why you should not quit your PhD journey is because achieving a PhD creates opportunities for additional research. With a doctoral degree, you are eligible to apply for higher-level research positions. Continued research allows you to evolve from being a Doctor to an accomplished researcher or possibly a professor capable of conducting independent research.

The increased experience leads to more opportunities. For those working in academia, it is possible to incorporate teaching and supervising Master’s students. This can lead to new collaborations and opportunities for future research. As a researcher, you can enhance your work by collaborating with individuals from other institutions to exchange knowledge and expertise. Research is enjoyable and rewarding. You have taken on this challenging journey because you have an interest in your research area and you want to make a difference in the world.

#4. Teaching and Mentorship

Do you have a passion for teaching or mentoring the next generation of students? How do you intend to achieve this if you quit your PhD journey along the line? Think about this, once you obtain your PhD, numerous employment opportunities will be available to you. One compelling option is to pursue a career as a professor. The role of a professor involves a significant amount of teaching, and if you derive satisfaction from imparting knowledge and contributing to the field of education, then abandoning your Ph.D. journey will hinder your ability to achieve this.

As a professor, you will have the chance to guide and support students as they navigate their academic and professional paths, much like your own professors and mentors did for you. This presents an opportunity to give back and maintain a connection to the academic community.

#5. Pushing Boundaries

The process trains you to be persistent, patient, and to think laterally and creatively. Overcoming the challenges you face as you conduct research will reward you with a unique skill set that very few people possess. When you finally achieve your goal, you will develop confidence in your abilities that will carry through to whatever you choose to do next, and all of your subsequent goals will seem easier by comparison.

Think about why you started your PhD in the first place. What was your initial goal and what is driving you now? Is the ultimate goal still something that you want to achieve? If the answer is yes, then take a break, reassess the situation, and gather the strength to push through to the end. By pushing through and completing your PhD, you are demonstrating that you have what it takes to be a world-class expert in your field and that you can set, work toward, and achieve seemingly impossible goals.

#6. Building Resilience

Attending higher education offers a great opportunity to improve both professional and personal skills. If you’re facing challenges during your PhD, it’s important to recognize that in addition to your research work, you’re also enhancing your resilience, a highly valued trait in many professional settings. Hence, by quitting you are denying yourself the opportunity to develop this essential skill that will benefit you in the future.

Overcoming obstacles during your PhD will showcase your ability to perform at a high level under extremely difficult circumstances, demonstrating your capacity to tackle problems, find innovative solutions, and emerge stronger. This experience will not only boost your research skills but also prove your determination and grit to potential employers.

#7. Networking Opportunities

The people you are working and studying with are on a similar academic path and may form strong connections with you. These individuals could become colleagues in your field. The instructors, scholars, and experts who guide and assist you during your doctoral studies may also become important connections for your future career. Ending your doctoral journey prematurely could mean missing out on the chance to build a network of valuable contacts that could enhance your professional life.

#8. Enhanced Job Prospects

Many individuals consider leaving their Ph.D. programs because they are not interested in pursuing an academic career, believing it to be the only option for Ph.D. graduates. This is a myth, a common misconception about PhD. Various industries, businesses, and government organizations highly value individuals with research skills, leading to a high demand for these skills across different sectors. Completing a Ph.D. program equips you with a set of unique and transferable skills that are in high demand.

These skills include research, analysis, strategic thinking, and problem-solving, which not only open up job opportunities but also lead to a fulfilling career. Furthermore, Ph.D. graduates earn higher salaries compared to those with lower-level qualifications, often double the amount earned by individuals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. If this is not enough to persuade you to continue and finish your Ph.D., consider that only 2.3% of the world’s population enroll in a Ph.D., placing you in a distinct position as an expert in your field and allowing you to work in a field you are passionate about and that can make a significant impact on the world.

#9. Intellectual Growth

Intellectual growth is an essential aspect of the PhD journey that should not be overlooked. By persevering through the challenges of the PhD journey, you can experience significant intellectual growth that will benefit you in your future careers. This is another reason to never quit your PhD journey. It is indeed tough to keep going when you seem to have hit a dead-end with no motivation in sight. But the fact that you are getting trained to be that one unique person who will solve that one unique problem in the entire world means that you are undergoing intellectual growth. It is well-established and known that this growth process is not easy. But the fruit that you will bear at the end of this journey is worth all the pain.

#10. Unlocking Expertise

Consider this journey as an opportunity to reach that ultimate level of expertise, the kind of expertise that commands respect and that other people will turn to for guidance and leadership. The reward for experiencing and overcoming the challenges of a PhD is more than just the title that comes at the end. It’s about developing the expertise that the title signifies. So, don’t walk away. Keep going, one step at a time. You will get there.

Along with in-depth knowledge of a particular subject area, working on a PhD thesis helps you to develop expert research skills. You’re learning how to contribute original, valuable ideas and insights. You’re also learning how to perform higher-level thinking, analysis, and problem-solving. These are abilities that not many people have. As you progress through your PhD, you’re becoming an expert in your field. You’re unlocking the doors that will lead you to become one of the few people in the world who truly understand your subject area and can contribute new, valuable knowledge.

When is Quitting the Right Choice?

The journey of pursuing a PhD can be arduous and may lead to the question of whether it is worth continuing or if it is better to pursue a different path. It is crucial to recognize the circumstances in which quitting may be the most appropriate decision. While a PhD can offer many benefits, there are times when leaving the program may be the best choice. Perhaps your research interests have changed, or unexpected personal situations require a change in direction.

Prioritizing your mental well-being is essential. If leaving the program feels like the right decision, it is important to consider options for a smooth transition. Discuss potential exit strategies with your advisor. You could also consider obtaining a master’s degree based on your completed coursework or utilizing the skills you have acquired to pursue a rewarding career outside of academia. It is important to remember that a PhD is not the only path to achieving success.

People quit their PhD for various reasons. Some of them are positive, deciding that the PhD is not the right choice for them, and acting on it. They understand that there are more interesting, fulfilling, or better-paid jobs out there where they can use their skills. Other people quit because the system is putting so much pressure on them that they collapse. They can have mental or physical health issues, or be completely burnt out. They quit because they feel that they have no other choice. So, is quitting a bad thing? No, not in my opinion. I think that you should quit when it is the right thing to do for you.

2. Strategies to Reignite Your Passion

Rekindling your passion through engaging in activities unrelated to your field of study may seem counterintuitive. However, resting your mind and focusing on other interests will allow you to approach your research with a clear mind and new energy. When you feel exhausted and the trigger to quit becomes very intense, taking any of these strategies to ignite your passion can come in handy. The following strategies will enhance your productivity and help you develop more reasons why you should not quit your PhD journey.

1. Time Management

Many PhD students consider quitting their doctoral journey due to feeling overwhelmed by the lack of time for required research and study. Unrealistic deadlines only make this feeling worse. Managing time effectively and setting achievable goals is crucial for success. Students need to prioritize mental and physical health, taking breaks when necessary. Instead of quitting, it’s better to continually reassess and adjust workload and time management. Stress and burnout can be managed with this approach.

2. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

When beginning a Ph.D., it is common to feel like you are not an established expert in your research field, despite dedicating several years to your studies. This can lead to what is known as imposter syndrome, where you doubt your abilities and fear being exposed as less competent than others perceive you to be. Overcoming imposter syndrome is crucial for Ph.D. students to succeed, as it can make them feel like they don’t belong in academia.

Acknowledging and dealing with these emotions is crucial for reaching your goals. It’s vital to reach out to mentors and friends for assistance and to practice self-kindness while reflecting on your achievements. Moreover, seeking guidance from a therapist or counselor can also aid in conquering imposter syndrome. Keep in mind, you are not the only one facing these feelings, and there are available resources to support you on this path.

3. Finding a Supportive Community

Doctoral research is a long and often difficult journey. It is easy to become disheartened along the way. Having a community of fellow students who can empathize with your struggles is crucial. This community, whether in person or online, provides not just understanding but also support. Overcoming challenges and progressing in your research is much more achievable when you have a support network to help you along the way.

4. Utilize Mental Health Services

If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or that life is not worth living, please seek help immediately. You do not have to go through these struggles alone and there are people out there who can help you. Your mental health is more important than a degree and those around you want to see you safe and well above all else. Remember, it is okay to not be okay. Reach out and get the help you deserve. Mental health services are there for a reason and can often provide the support and guidance that friends and family cannot. It can also help you develop coping mechanisms and other strategies to deal with the stress and challenges of your PhD.


Ultimately, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the path to obtaining a PhD can present difficulties, but the benefits and potential influence on your future career make it a worthwhile endeavor. This is a noteworthy achievement for those who persist in chasing their aspirations, and the grit and commitment needed for this journey will ultimately result in personal and professional development and triumph. Quitting may seem like the easier option in the short term, but continuing on the PhD journey will lead to an immense sense of accomplishment and personal growth.


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