I am an engineering graduate student at a good American university, funded as a Research Assistant (RA). The lab and professor rely heavily on my day-to-day work.
My PhD research is going nowhere and I am far less interested in obtaining a PhD compared to one year ago. Most importantly, my wife wants me to leave and pursue an engineering job with a salary. I have a colleague/friend who has a position lined up for me provided I begin to work ASAP. Ultimately, this would mean quitting my funded research position mid summer (and mid-semester) with little notice. Because of this, I am not expecting a "letter of recommendation" from my advisor/boss/professor, however I don't want to be blacklisted either.
How significant of an offense would it be to quit a graduate-level Research Assistantship in the middle of a semester? Would it even be legal to do this at an American university? What would be the consequences for simply turning in my resignation and leaving the program (again, in the middle of the semester with very little notice)?
Opinions from professors, PhD drop-outs, or people familiar with these situations would be great!
If you are leaving academia permanently, I see few consequences. You should give standard two weeks notice to avoid harming your reputation outside academia. You should also check your contract (if any) and institutional policies.