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Defending your thesis is no joke. I've had friends crack up while preparing. It plays out like an episode of "Defend Your Life." In many cases you are defending your life. Your thesis is more than words on a page, it's a fundamental belief that you've been working towards for years. Everything learned and gained has had a part to play in the birth of that brief. So it can be gut wrenching and life altering when you find yourself at a loss in it's moment of reckoning.

Redditor u/dexMiloyev wanted to know about the times as a student when many of us were left.... stumped by asking.... Doctoral candidates who couldn't defend their thesis, what happened?

In Bed

doctor who blonde woman GIF Giphy

One of my colleagues in grad school didn't finish his dissertation. Our advisor moved universities and told him he wasn't invited.

My friend had a nervous breakdown from which he never recovered. His wife divorced him because he spent all day catatonic in bed for months, and they had two young children to take care of.

flyover_liberal

Remind me Later

I've only heard of one or two people who didn't pass in the 6 or so years I was in grad school. They just worked on whatever their committee said to expand on and re-did their defense at a later date. Your advisor really shouldn't let you get to the point where you're defending and there's a chance you won't pass. It's more common that people will Masters out or go ABD, but not outright fail.

3nd0r

20 Years Later....

In the early 1970s, my father was an Ed.D candidate, and his thesis was on the topic of self-pacing computerized instruction (at the high school level). He taught himself the Basic programming language and everything, and was quite confident of success.

His thesis was summarily rejected because "there will NEVER be computers in the classroom" other than postsecondary computer science curriculums.

20 years later computers were everywhere in our schools, and you could go to any big box store and buy educational software similar to what my father had envisioned.

lucky_ducker

The Thief

late night lol GIF by The Rundown with Robin Thede Giphy

While in graduate school, a professor at my university came up with an idea to write his thesis on. He told his advisor, who basically laughed him out of the room and told him it was a ridiculous idea. A year later, he learned that his advisor had stolen his idea and written a paper on it to be published in a major scientific journal. The student (my current professor) then left the program in disgust and just finished with a master's instead. Pretty good physics professor though.

cardinals1392

Eventually....

I knew a PhD student in Math who discovered halfway through her doctorate that the problem she was working on to get her PhD had just been solved by someone else. She was able to work with her advisor to find a way to make the work she applied to that problem be applicable to a similar one. She eventually earned her PhD.

cezxq

dead to rights....

I have a friend who is a tenured professor at a major university. He submitted a proposal to a funding agency. He later discovered that the program manager had not only stolen his idea, but even reused substantial amounts of text from his proposal in a publication. It turned out that the same guy was in the process of being hired by my friend's university for a leadership role.

Even though he had the guy dead to rights, and my friend's position was fairly secure, the politics of the situation made him too fearful to mention it to anyone.

I can only imagine what might happen to a mere student who accused a professor of this kind of misconduct. The sad truth is, even if the student had unimpeachable evidence, I think a lot of people would choose to obstruct and bury it and destroy the student's life rather than burn a colleague.

Rostin

Take 2....

We have a family friend who was in a PhD program that basically got disbanded. Like his advisor and several other faculty members got fired. I believe they ended up giving him two master's degrees, Which is nothing to sneeze at but he did the work for a PhD.

jonahvsthewhale

Not Passable....

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From my experience in grad school, your committee is there every step along the way.

You cant even start until you have an approved thesis prospectus. In this structure, you know if you're ready to defend or not. A member of my cohort was told prior to her thesis defense that she wouldn't pass, so they rescheduled for later.

rughmanchoo

Frozen...

It's exceedingly rare to outright fail a defense as others have mentioned. One person in my department failed their final defense because they froze up and couldn't even answer the easiest questions from their committee. Most people I know of who didn't complete their defense either left voluntarily with master's degrees for various reasons or failed out for silly, preventable reasons like plagiarism or not turning in their written qualifying exams on time.

cdogg300

Really Fool?

new girl facepalm GIF by HULU Giphy

Had a Chinese doctoral student in the program I worked for, who was intentionally putting off and screwing up his thesis process. He only had a student visa, and didn't want to go back to China.

spikyman

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