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When searching for a new job or position, I think it's vitally important to do so from a position of strength. Don't quit what you're doing right now with no plan in place or with no replacement position to go into immediately. What would you do then? Work at McDonald's to pay your bills while trying to land a teaching job? It's your life and your livelihood. It's nobody else's business whether you are thinking about/planning to leave your PhD program sooner or later. That's my view anyway.

There is a book called 'Work Your Career', wherein the authors advise how to best benefit from a PhD in the humanities. One of the points they stress throughout the book, which initially I found surprising but later came to agree with, is that you should not be opposed to quitting your PhD, at ANY point during the program, for a non-academic career path. I think it makes sense. Academic jobs are scare. Not everyone will enjoy the lifestyle. You should have a back up plan, or several. If you can acquire skills during your PhD that would land you an enjoyable career outside of academia, then don't write it off.

Here's a link to the book if you're interested.



I'm sorry to say that I would recommend that you keep your cards pretty close to the vest until you're ready to leave. Ideally DGSs and advisers would treat you just the same as anyone else for as long as you're in the program--but even if people are well-meaning, they may unintentionally treat you differently. If you decide you do want to stay in academia, less well-meaning people may see you as insufficiently committed to philosophy (which is totally not fair! Almost everyone has doubts at some point in grad school).

As for whether it's wrong to hang around, if you're teaching or TAing, you're doing a job for the university, and I don't think you should feel bad about continuing to get paid for doing your job. If you're on a competitive fellowship, maybe it's a little different, but I agree with T that you shouldn't leave until you have your next thing lined up.

Good luck!


A key question is: funded or unfunded? If you're not funded, quit as soon as the part you've paid for is done -- you're just wasting money.

If funded, then I think the position of strength advice is spot-on. View it like a low-paying, medium-prestige job and work on your exit strategy when you're not doing your job.

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