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should I go to a small program?


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Hi there, I got a PhD offer this year and really hope to receive some suggestions. The supervisor has a big name in my field and she is super nice. Also, the location is quite good. However, the program is pretty small (only 3 faculty members and they only send 1-2 PhD offers each year) and the fundings can't be guaranteed. My supervisor told me I will get 6-month RA support and 9-month tuition waiver in the first year. It will depend on my progress to get different types of fundings in the next 4 years. 

Does anyone have some opinions? Thx a lot!!!

Edited by jennyshaw228
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First, congrats!! Honestly, this seems like a really personal question on how much you feel like you could handle it if you can't get additional funding beyond what they laid out, and how badly you want to be in that program or have other offers. There are plenty of grad students who manage to scrape by and make ends meet, but it can mean a lot of debt if things fall through. There are, however, a number of grants out there if you're feeling ambitious. Also, potentially consider the cost of living in that area - cities can be very expensive, but there are a lot of ways to make it work. Moving and high cost of living are valid factors if that's a concern. 

Also what exactly does it mean to say that it will depend on your progress to get additional funding? Is there a high attrition rate? Are you applying for your own funding?

Probably your best source for all of this is current and former grad students from that program. They often know the tips, tricks, and regrets of working at their program more thoroughly than anyone else.

Whatever you decide, good luck!!

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8 hours ago, TiredOfApps said:

First, congrats!! Honestly, this seems like a really personal question on how much you feel like you could handle it if you can't get additional funding beyond what they laid out, and how badly you want to be in that program or have other offers. There are plenty of grad students who manage to scrape by and make ends meet, but it can mean a lot of debt if things fall through. There are, however, a number of grants out there if you're feeling ambitious. Also, potentially consider the cost of living in that area - cities can be very expensive, but there are a lot of ways to make it work. Moving and high cost of living are valid factors if that's a concern. 

Also what exactly does it mean to say that it will depend on your progress to get additional funding? Is there a high attrition rate? Are you applying for your own funding?

Probably your best source for all of this is current and former grad students from that program. They often know the tips, tricks, and regrets of working at their program more thoroughly than anyone else.

Whatever you decide, good luck!!

Thanks so much for your suggestions! I will contact current students to get more details about the program!

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IMO, the size of the program isn't as problematic as the funding situation, unless you feel comfortable to self-fund. 

I would say the question is despite the size of the program are there enough people at that school who you feel would be able to be an effective committee for you to work with? Would all three of those faculty members be your committee, would you need someone in another department? Outside the school? Rather then size, I'm thinking about fit in terms of your interests.

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On 3/8/2019 at 1:27 AM, Fantasmapocalypse said:

IMO, the size of the program isn't as problematic as the funding situation, unless you feel comfortable to self-fund. 

I would say the question is despite the size of the program are there enough people at that school who you feel would be able to be an effective committee for you to work with? Would all three of those faculty members be your committee, would you need someone in another department? Outside the school? Rather then size, I'm thinking about fit in terms of your interests.

That is a really good point! Thank you so much for your suggestions!

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