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I got into a program but my research interests shifted --am I tied down to a certain thesis?


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You all are probably sick of my posts. I've been a board hog these past months. Please forgive me..!!!! However, I think this topic may be of help to people in the future. Couldn't find another one like it in the database.


I got into two programs that I am still deciding on. Problem: After writing strong statements of purpose (each with different research proposals), my thesis "goals" have changed.

Not DRASTICALLY - I still want to research something in rural sociology in one, and technology in the other -- but my ideas have definitely changed. I had told one program I wanted to research rural violence, but now I want to do something in rural conservation, for example. 


Am I tied down? I am panicking because I realized that I REALLY do not want to research the specific projects I mentioned in my purpose statement . 


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My initial response is that your change of direction, given it is within the same general field, would be acceptable. For history PHDs I have known people accepted with extremely general research topics, in the knowledge this would be refined to a specific area once the course had begun.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether your supervisor would still be well equipped to oversee your new research, however small the change. I would guess this would usually not be an issue. I would suggest emailing in a positive, as opposed to negative, fashion. Something along the lines of suggesting you have been proactive, and believe more fruitful and necessary research could be undertaken in option b, instead of option a.

Best of luck.

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2 hours ago, faculty said:

You are not tied down at all. Students' interests are always changing. That only hurts them if their topics are not well-served in the department they select.

Yes, I agree with this. It's actually normal or not unusual that your research topic changes a little bit after applying. 

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Yes, I agree with everything people have said. To go further -- I think it is expected that as you learn and read more your research interests and plans will change. If you rigidly stuck to your initial research plan throughout your PhD, it would show you aren't thinking deeply or reflecting to improve your research. So a shifting focus is a good sign--unless it takes you in a direction where no one in your department can help you achieve your goals.

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