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Adviser leaving -- what did/would you do?

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Hello all,

I am beginning a PhD program in psychology this fall and am very excited. However, today I found out that my mentor is accepting a position at a new university this Spring. This place is about an hour away and instead of being in the psychology department they will be in the linguistics department (currently they have a joint appointment and students in each department). I’m at a bit of a crossroads, here are the options as I see them:

1.      Stay here. This is what it sounds like my mentor wants me to do. Their idea to all graduate students (5 total) was that we continue our work here, get co-advised by her at her new institution, and get co-advised by someone at our current institution. I am very apprehensive about this, as no other faculty is doing work I find that interesting. No one in psychology is even doing work similar to my mentor’s. Additionally, they are the entire reason I wanted to attend this university.

2.      Transfer with them. This seems unlikely, as the institution they are moving to is far better than our current one (no offence, I like my school!). I would not be able to follow them to the linguistics department as I don’t have the background and want to keep my work more in psychology. I could try to transfer to the psychology department and be co-advised with my current mentor.

3.      Transfer somewhere else. Probably at the end of my second year and obtain a Master’s from current university. A friend suggested this, that I start emailing professors soon or this Spring and try to explain to my current adviser why I am doing this.

Do you see any options I don’t see? What would you do in my situation, or what have you done in a similar situation? Thanks!

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On 8/4/2018 at 1:32 PM, Oshawott said:

I'd choose #3 if your advisor can't take you to the new institution (or alternatively see if you can apply to the new institution and get accepted as well)

Thanks for the advice. This is what most people have suggested to me so far. I still have until June 2019 here (fellowship contract) so I need to discuss what will happen this year with current adviser, director of graduate studies, etc.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would suggest #1 or #2. Interests evolve in grad school and if you love this PI's work, finding a way to connect to them will be very valuable (especially if they are moving up in the world--and that's what it seems your post is saying).

More advisors invested in you is great! Don't think it isn't possible for them to negotiate to have you join them at the new school. I would maybe push hard for that and see if they can make it happen. Bonus that the school is a step up and you get to stay with the advisor. It is not entirely uncommon to have a degree in one area of the social sciences and an advisor in the other. They may even work out a joint appointment for themselves in psych and linguistics at this new school.

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Are you currently in a master's program in the same department, or are you coming out of undergrad (or a master's program) from a different university? Or otherwise entering this university for the first time Fall 2018?

My answers would be different for someone who's further along. If you were third year or above, I'd advise staying put and continuing to work with your advisor, getting a second co-advisor to mentor you along. But as a first-year student, I think that you should probably do #3. Personally, I wouldn't even spend two years there - most psychology programs are not going to allow you to skip two years of coursework even if you did it elsewhere, so those two years could be a waste of time.

How well do you know this mentor? Is this someone you were working with prior to applying to the program, or do you only know them through the application process?

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