I'm a PhD student in computer science. I'm strongly considering leaving with a Masters once I complete my coursework. I don't plan on quitting until I have a job offer, though. I have two questions:

(1) How should I describe my current job title in my work experience section (I have 10 years of prior industry experience so I don't want to have a two year gap during my time in grad school). Some students will use "Research Assistant" or "Teaching Assistant" as appropriate. However, I'm supported by a fellowship. Would " Fellow" be appropriate (e.g. NIH Fellow)?

(2) How should I describe my current status in the education section? Technically I'm still enrolled as a PhD student, but I don't plan on finishing. For now, I have "PhD Student 2013 - 2018 (expected)".

  • Re: (1) "Graduate Researcher" is a good option if your appointment is not technically a Research Assistantship. Or you can put "Graduate Researcher / Fellow". I would also list the NIH Fellowship in the "Awards" section at the bottom of your CV (OK to put last). Re: (2) If you are not planning on finishing PhD but are planning to finish with a Master's, I would replace PhD with M.S. and put the expected graduation date for your M.S. (also, omit start date) If you are already applying for jobs, having "2018" on the CV looks too far out; I'd put 2015 and get cracking to finish soon. Good luck!
    – A.S
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 20:24
  • Be careful as to what "fellow" means in your field. I know that in lots of scientific circles/academia, a "fellowship" is a temporary appointment/award while being a "fellow" is a permanent title that you may use. You do not want to misrepresent yourself! I was on a "distinguished teaching fellowship" as a PhD student but by no means could I say I was a "distinguished Teaching fellow": there were other senior faculty who were "teaching fellows" and had that conferred on them by a university president/state governor.
    – dearN
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 9:45
  • Perhaps academia.stackexchange isn't a bad place to discuss this?
    – dearN
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 9:45

2 Answers 2


Both of these seem fine! I think you're worrying about it too much.

Fellow is a good description of your main role, you can go into more detail about any teaching responsibilities if you need to, but that is after all not the main aspect of your job.

Since you'll be leaving with a masters, you can simply list the Masters and the date it was completed on your resume without mentioning the PhD - it's not like you'll have a gap if you leave after finishing your Masters, so it shouldn't be a problem.


If it pertains to your field and it shows contribution, then list it. This goes for internships, summer jobs, and volunteering.

I volunteered for two years (when I was unemployed during the dot com crash) at a community computer recycling center who taught Linux to those who just wanted to learn it and use it as an alternative to Windows.

That volunteer gig (and not the 10 years of SunOs admin experience) is what got me my current job.

Yes. Please list everything if it pertains to contributions in your field.

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