Taking the second one first
2- they mention 3k bonus. i read that bonuses are based on performance... so, what exactly does that mean? if they say i didnt do quite as good, i may get like $300.00 or something instead??
and how often are bonuses paid? quarterly? yearly?
Bonus's are awarded for so many reasons and with so many strings and on so many different schedules that I would be hard pressed to give a over reaching answer to this. I would get the bonus expressed as a % not a fixed number, as you will be hoping to get raises in future years and thus you would expect the bonus to go up not remain fixed. I would also make sure I got clarity on why bonus, when bonus, and under what conditions bonus would be given. No way I can answer here, as pretty much every company and job position are different.
Now, the harder question.
1 - would it be wise to let my prospective employer know that "look, i thought i'd be getting my MS just by completing the thesis and submitting my almost-ready manuscript, but now the department says about that 1 course requirement..." and ask them "WILL U LET ME TAKE THE 10 WEEKS OFF COMPLETELY?" to go to another city while subletting my place, and then come back and return to my job duties.You are, by asking to take 10 weeks off, really asking them to stall the hire by 3 1/2 months (or so). I, as a hiring person, would be pretty unlikely to accept that. I moved on from hireing a guy this summer becuase he asked to stall 2 months. I got, I now beleive, a better person because I moved on. I can't conceive of taking the risk of waiting 3 1/2 months and then you bailing on me. I am not saying that becuase you are you, I am saying that because anyone who has been through hiring people knows that some of them flake on you. Given the time that would transpire, I would be thinking that the "flake factor" would be really high and that I would be sitting there not looking for someone to come on board and then you wouldn't show up and I just would have wasted a whole lot of time. Not something a sane person would do I don't think.
if they say yes, i KNOW i can do it and get my MS within 1 school year!
or should i just tell them closer to 1.5 yrs before i have to take that course? and then if they say "NO, we will have to get someone new then," i'd quit, and find a new job while taking that 1 course????
i hate conceiling anything.. i am a very open and honest person, but i fear that telling them now may make them change their minds on hiring me (isnt it still possible despite the signed offer letter?). ALTHOUGH! DONT U THINK THE PROCESS OF HIRING AND TRAINING A NEW EMPLOYEE WOULD TAKE THE SAME 10 WEEKS AT LEAST ANYWAY?! so maybe telling it straight out is not so bad at all..?
Why do you have to quit to take the 1 course? Why can't you work and do the course at the same time? Why do you want to get out so bad you can't just take the course and then look for a job?
Personally, I think getting the masters will help you in the future a whole lot. Is is, and this is stupid I will admit, letters after your name that some other people won't have. Yes, others have different letters, but your letters are more than a bachelors. I would be totally focussed on getting that degree since it is so close.
I have problems with the quitting after 1 1/2 years as well. I know you said you worked for 4 years previously, but honestly I wouldn't even see that when I looked to hire you after that 1 1/2. It is further back in the resume and I probably wouldn't get there. You can call me shallow if you want, but you have to keep in mind that even for my little entry level position I had to dig through a whole lot of resumes. Any red flag meant I could chuck and get to the next one. I wouldn't be trying to put red flags on my resume.
I fully realize you are in a jam, in that you have a job possibly lined up and you have a course you have to take, but I don't know what to say. I would just try and find a way to do both at the same time. If that isn't possible, then I would finish the course and then look for a job. If you found 1 then you can find another.