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New Program



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Some obvious cons:

  • You'll be the guinea pig; lots of trial and error will be carried out on your back. For example, new coursework. Workload that may be too high or too low.
  • The selection process for new students may be more prone to error (admitting some students who aren't a good fit; perhaps the strongest students won't apply for the first few years of the program, so the applicant pool may be limited). 
  • No institutional memory. No one ahead of you to ask how to do things. Some procedures may not even exist and will be invented as the program goes along. 
  • Depending on the staff, your instructors may have less experience in mentoring and advising of graduate students. 
  • No TAs (again, no one in a cohort above you).
  • The program won't have any reputation, meaning that you can't assess their success rate and others can't tell how good the program is at training students. This may lead to difficulties on the job market down the line. This may be mitigated if the profs in the program have successfully trained students at other institutions, but still. 
  • Fewer connections, possibly fewer funding resources to start out with, including maybe lab space or equipment. Depending on your field, this may be more or less of an issue. 

Some pros that come to mind: 

  • Lots of freedom to shape your own education. 
  • Probably more opportunities to be involved in TAing and perhaps informing decisions about the coursework in the program more generally. 
  • Perhaps the ability to be involved in writing grants and securing funding for the program. 
  • Perhaps more funding for travel and research, assuming that the program starts small and with some seed money. If you do well, they may have an interest in having you travel to present your work. 
  • If relevant, more sway in new faculty hiring decisions. 
  • Your advisors and other professors will have a vested interest in your success even more than usual, as one of the first students trained in the program. 
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Fun fact/worst nightmare: I got into a program at UofO that was brandspanking new for Fall 2017. I got in almost effortlessly (my interview was HORRIBLE), was promised funding, and VERY EXCITED about getting my PhD. Fastforward to May, right before graduating from my Masters, I received an email stating funding was not (aka NEVER) secured for the program and I would not be able to apply for scholarships due to the late notice. I got VERY lucky Eugene is filled with gracious people bc I instantly was able to call the apartment I signed with to cry my way out of the lease AND the program must have felt like crap because they offered my application fee back. I let them keep it. I was too devastated to nickel & dime them. I spent the next few months explaining to friends and family what happened and feeling crappy that I got jipped out of a PhD.  SOOOOOO...the biggest con I would say of going into a new program is that they don't always have their s*** together, yet and you really are experimental pigs until they can work the kinks out (and then you'd probably have the privilege of watching newer cohorts come in and not deal with HALF of the issues). So there may be times where you are left crap out of luck. Also, a concern for me in retrospect if I DID have the money to fund a PhD would be, "What would this degree mean to my field?" That would be the biggest overall concern. Would it be considered respectable amongst peers? Maybe this won't be your scenario, though! Maybe the program is branched out from another established program, therefore the concerns above wouldn't be an issue. Really look into the program, it's origins, the faculty's experience working in other programs, as well as the curriculum and funding in contrast to other competitive programs! Good luck!

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13 hours ago, SeeNatGo said:

Im not sure if there is a proper name for it but I am applying to a new graduate program at a UC, meaning I can potentially be the first graduating class.

What are the pros and cons to this? 

It is going to be really hard for you to get anything more than very general answers to this question. There's a big difference between a new nano-engineering program at UC Berkeley, which will likely be an offshoot of well-established programs, versus a new program in social media studies at UC Santa Cruz.

I understand the need for anonymity on these boards, but realize that it really degrades the relevance of advice you receive.

Edited by DiscoTech
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