Purdue or U Michigan for PhD Mechanical Engineering? - Decisions, Decisions - The GradCafe Forums
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Purdue or U Michigan for PhD Mechanical Engineering?


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I think I've narrowed my options down to two which I think would be the best fits for me. Both are top ten schools and have offered similar funding with no need to TA. Here's the pro's and con's of both for me:

Purdue Pros:

  • Multiple great PI possibilities, all have interesting research
  • West Lafayette has a relatively cheap cost of living

Purdue Cons:

  • No one works in the field I was planning to pursue
  • City is small and not close to much

Michigan Pros:

  • Great PI who works in field I was planning to pursue
  • Nice city (Ann Arbor)
  • Close to home

Michigan Cons:

  • The PI is much more active in another field of research rather than the one I'm interested in; however, he's indicated that he does care deeply about pursuing it, even though it is more of a side project.
  • More expensive cost of living


It would be great to hear opinions and advice, especially from people who have had experience at either school, or have had to make a similar tough choice. Thanks!!


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First, congrats on your acceptances! That's awesome!

Man, there are just so many things to consider. Have you been able to visit both campuses? How about talking with current grad students? I don't know engineering at these schools, but you do hear stories about how some labs differ in how collaborative vs competitive they can be. And when you say similar funding, I guess this also means comparable resources for conferences, health insurance, or even moving costs? In defense of West Lafayette, Indy and its airport aren't terribly far away (I believe I've even seen a Purdue shuttle on 65 that runs between Indy and Chicago), and the lower cost of living is definitely a benefit. 

About research, how much have you interacted with the UMich PI vs the potential PIs at Purdue? I keep asking all these questions (and I'm sure you've been asking yourself some too) because it seems like it might come down to a feeling here which can be scary.

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