This is not a duplicate. Incomplete projects are not equivalent to 2 years of education from a prestigious university gone down the chute. Some projects always goes down for one reason or other. People rarely are afraid of talking about such projects. But failing in education is somewhat implied as being a slow person or inability to comprehend in a problem solving environment.

I am from India and I was enrolled in a Graduate program at one of the top universities in USA. I was always an above average student and never failed any class or course my entire school, college and undergrad engineering, so I thought of increasing my knowledge and awareness through advanced programs.

But, I guess, I misjudged the effort required for such programs, and in my last semester I got lower grades in all 3 courses, resulting in overall lower grades. The university told me they could allow me to take more courses to get my degree but they could not get me a visa. They only way I had was to get a work visa or extend my student visa by getting a job. Due to heavy stress, anxiety to get my degree took a toll on my health but whatever may be the reason, I couldn't get a job and decided to head back to my country.

It goes without saying that I learnt a lot from the courses and in a way helped me understand myself better as a person and as to how and why I couldn't complete my degree. It filled me with perseverance.

I originally showed this program in my resume, but never formally acknowledged that I couldn't get a degree, and grew tired of questions like "Why did you come back?", "Could you show all your documents?". Despite telling them honestly that I didn't get a job after waiting for 3 months, it seemed that they are not convinced on anything.

Also, it seems all organizations want all the documents in file but when discussing remuneration and position, they blatantly ignore all all these facts.

I got a job finally after 2 months of searching. After 3 years, I am again in market but removed my higher program from my resume. But it looks like I am missing on some very good opportunities because of this.

How shall I add my program as well as some of the best projects that I completed in my program, without feeling ashamed? How to explain the same in interviews so I could get the person understand it from my perspective?

  • I am sorry but I fail to see the connection between my question and your links. – user29963 Nov 26 '14 at 12:34
  • If you don't put graduate studies in your resume then you have a hole in your resume which is a lot worse than not graduating. Just state visa expired before I completed a masters. If in the interview they challenge you with prove you could not find a job then I would politely state if you are not willing to take me at my word on this matter then this is not a good fit - clearly I did not want my visa to expire. – paparazzo Nov 26 '14 at 19:16
  • "But, I guess, I misjudged the effort required for such programs ..." Is that a euphemism for "I didn't put in the studying that I should have done, and I royally screwed it"? In East Asian cultures, you don't spin it and it's useless to spin it because people will see right through your spin, you live it down if you want to maintain any kind of personal credibility. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 26 '14 at 20:53
  • @VietnhiPhuvan, I guess I was overwhelmed. Some of the group projects got me working overtime since I got some crappy (no euphemism now) people to work with. The exams and huge projects together at the end of the semester were simply too much for me. Also, I am not a person who enjoys life much since I don't know how to. Way too much work and no play made me a really dull boy. That's why I also mentioned how this experience helped me understand the kind of person I am. – user29963 Nov 27 '14 at 10:43

Something like this seems like it should be adequate:

Year1 - Year 2: Started a Masters program in Subject. Not completed due to visa problems.

It truthfully acknowledges the existence of unfinished graduate work, but deflects the blame for not completing it away from you and to something known to be a bureaucracy with a reputation for not caring that it's metaphorically throwing people under a bus.

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    I totally agree. I also started working on M.Sc. but did not finish. I state that I did not complete it, how many credits I have and my average. Many start working on their masters degree and don't finish. In Linkedin you can also list courses you took – Sigal Shaharabani Nov 26 '14 at 11:54
  • Seems like a nice idea, but the fact remains that everybody gets 2 years to complete the degree and I failed to achieve that. This is what scares me since failures are not really accepted by companies. – user29963 Nov 26 '14 at 11:56
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    @user29963 Running a semester or two over the normal/baseline duration for a degree in the US is relatively common. Needing an extra semester to finish isn't a blackmark here. Unless completion times are more rigid where you live I don't think that any extra explanation is required. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Nov 26 '14 at 16:10

I'll begin this with the caveat that some of this is cultural, and I am only moderately familiar with Indian culture.

Ultimately, you need to show on your resume what will help you get a job, and as part of that what will help paint a picture of who you are and what you are a good fit for.

Showing the masters program will show three positive things: that you did a significant amount of coursework in your field, that you were willing to move out of your comfort zone (ie, to the US), and that you took the initiative to develop your intellectual side (which is often very important). It also will show a negative thing, which is that you did not finish.

How those are weighted depends in large part on the other work you have to show. If your in-between job was a very good one and itself largely shows the ability to do the work that the masters program would show, then the masters program may not be very valuable to include on the resume.

On balance, though, I would suggest it probably does display some useful value, particularly if the program was in a very well known school (that would be well known in India). Getting in and doing two years of work was certainly a good thing; while failing isn't as good as succeeding, it's still valuable experience. I would suggest including it on the resume without any additional text: simply in the education section something like

University of Wherever, 2010-2012, Graduate Coursework in Computer Science

(or whatever the program was). That's enough for the resume, and then if and when it comes to the interview, well, the resume did its job (to get you an interview!) and you can be frank with the interviewer.

I attempted to complete the program in two years, but had some difficulty with the final classes and was unable to extend my visa in order to complete them. The program was highly rigorous and a great experience for me; I hope someday to complete the coursework I am lacking to achieve my degree.

That's very straightforward and to the point, and nothing I would hold against you in an interview setting. Expect some questions perhaps about what was difficult about the coursework, and answer them directly. You won't be the first person they've interviewed who didn't finish his or her degree. Bill Gates didn't finish his undergraduate degree, after all; expect to be judged on your ability and how you comport yourself in the interview far more than on this issue.

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  • Thank you for the insight. I guess I need to take a leap of faith now and be proud of my achievements and failure, no matter what other people think. – user29963 Nov 27 '14 at 10:45

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