I took a break from my STEM PhD a couple of years ago but now it is looking increasingly likely that I would be kicked off the PhD program for not having completed it on time. The past couple of years though I have been at home working on my own projects and doing some hourly consulting.

How is termination from a PhD viewed at the time of job interviews/offer? Does it show up in background check? Do I need to mention that I have been kicked out of the PhD program or should I say something like 'Discontinued PhD since 2014'?

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    I gave up my PhD - one of the best decisions I made. It has had no impact on my career – Ed Heal Apr 9 '16 at 11:31
  • I don't know your circumstances, but if it were me I'd go in and try to walk out with an M.S. on the back-end. IMO a good investment. – CKM Apr 9 '16 at 14:13

Unless you're specifically applying for a job that requires a PhD (for example, academic research), then having discontinued a PhD on your CV shouldn't really have too much of a negative impact. Don't forget, you were sufficiently capable of being eligible to start a PhD, which is not something that everyone can claim.

Having said that, it's entirely up to you whether you include it on your CV. Personally I would, then if asked about it you can answer honestly what your reasons were for deferring then discontinuing. Unless it was for academic misconduct, simply stating that a PhD wasn't for you isn't normally a reason not to employ someone.

If it were me, I'd rather just be up front about it with a simple one line in your education section of your CV. You don't have to make a song and dance about it, if asked, answer honestly and leave it at that :)

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    Many companies are reluctant to employ PHD's for several reasons anyway. – Kilisi Apr 9 '16 at 11:40
  • @Jane S: Thanks for the answer. But does it show up in the background check and how? From what I know, universities typically only furnish the dates of enrollment... – andy Apr 9 '16 at 11:52
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    @andy It would most likely only show up if you are requested to provide your academic records. If your undergraduate degree(s) were from the same university, then it would show up on the same transcript (mine does). If, however, it were from a different institution, then I don't believe it would show up on a background check. I do however believe you're overthinking this. – Jane S Apr 9 '16 at 12:02
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    @JaneS: I did some digging, and it seems like what you said is right. It might pretty much be limited to the transcript only. Need to look more, but for now this would suffice. – andy Apr 16 '16 at 4:42

I don't think in-completion of any educational degree will turn up in background check. The things ( negative) that come up in background check are serious stuff like DUI/Criminal Activity etc. You have not done anything criminal. You should be fine.

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  • Thanks for your answer. It is not voluntary incompletion, but termination from the PhD program by the university. That might show up differently in background check? – andy Apr 9 '16 at 11:50
  • I doubt it. It would just say that your PhD was terminated. Background checks are there to highlight criminals and people that are lying about what and when they was doing work/education – Ed Heal Apr 9 '16 at 12:00
  • I don't think termination will turn up in background check. Personally I would just leave it off the resume to avoid any questions as it does not add any value – Learner_101 Apr 9 '16 at 12:34

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