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Can anyone please reply me about this?

After admission to one of the Universities in USA for PhD degree, what is the process of transfer to another University ( obviously to a better one) and after how many days it can happen? Moreover, is it easy to transfer within the state?


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Transferring during an American PhD program would be a highly unusual event, and it is quite difficult (though not impossible). Your PhD education is deeply connected to your advisor, and so your research project will not necessarily translate easily to another university.

If you really wanted to leave your PhD program for some reason, you would likely have to re-apply to another program and thus you'd have the same chance as any other applicant. This usually will involve completely starting over in the degree program.

What is your motivation for transferring? There are different strategies depending on your answer that might work better than considering a transfer.

Edited by gradapplicant1012
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/9/2021 at 10:32 AM, abenn said:

Can anyone please reply me?

Thanks in advance.

What kind of PhD program are you entering? That will make a difference. I have answered the question below from the perspective of a research-oriented social sciences PhD:

Transferring from one Ph.D. to Another in the U.S. is Not Common or Advisable Due to Relationship with Advisor: As the previous poster said, transferring from one PhD program to another in the U.S. is highly unusual. There are many reasons for this. As the previous poster said, U.S. PhD programs focus heavily on the mentor/advisor-student relationship. Typically, your advisor is funding your tuition from their own grant money, or they are funding you from "their portion" of the department's funding. Of course, you will also most likely be working as a research assistant in your advisors lab to cover your tuition, as well as other positions such as a teaching assistantship. If you want to attend a PhD program with the intention of transferring, it would be frowned upon to do so without being honest and upfront about your intentions. Typically in a PhD program you will be working on research that requires years of long-term data collection, analysis, and problem solving, so it's not really something you can just up and walk away from, and continue somewhere else. Your knowledge will need to be cumulative, and your advisor has made an investment in you, and started training you and teaching you, from the beginning. To enter a PhD Program with the preconceived intention of transferring would be considered extremely unprofessional by most everyone. 

Transferring is Also Not Practical Due to Layout of Program Schedule: Even it you are only considering your own needs, and not those of your advisor, if still wouldn't be practical to transfer from one PhD to another. Typically you are going to want to get started on a Thesis or some sort of research project in year 1 of a PhD program, and you would most likely be using data collected via your advisor's lab for that. At the very least, you would be using your program's IRB for data collection, and would probably not be allowed to take that to another program in order to transfer. So you would have to completely start over. In addition, PhD program curricula are not standardized, no two programs are the same even if in the same field. So you would very likely not be able to transfer all credits over either. The most likely outcome, if you absolutely needed to leave your PhD program, would be that you would have to withdraw, and then re-apply to a PhD Program elsewhere as a brand new student. It would look bad on your application to have already withdrawn from one program, so that would work against you. The Professors you're applying to work with in the second round would likely sympathize with your Ex-advisor and think it was unprofessional for you to leave them hanging like that. If you had a really good reason for needing to transfer, and you were ready to tell them exactly why you transferred, then some professors would understand. But given the fact that you already are thinking of transferring ahead of time, entering the program when you are not intending to stay would be deceitful. In addition, if would in most cases work against you when reapplying, so you will most likely not be accepted to a "better" program, even if you get straight A's. If you did get accepted to a program after withdrawing from your first program, they might allow some of your previous PhD's courses to count as credit toward your new PhD requirements, but there is no guarantee. 

PhD Programs Usually Do Not Accept Transfer Students: I have never heard of a PhD program that will accept a transfer student, due to all of the reasons above. So not only is it not practical or advisable to transfer from one PhD Program to another, but it's also most likely not possible. So to answer your question, no, it makes no difference whether you transfer to a PhD program in the same state because state lines mean nothing as far as a PhD, and it is almost unheard of to transfer from one PhD program to another. 


In summary, it is not a good idea to commit to a PhD Program if you are already thinking about transferring out. You are extremely caring for wanting to take care of your significant other, but if it is really causing you to think about transferring before even starting a program, then maybe you should decline the current admissions offer, and take a year off to figure things out with your significant other so that you can both have a more stable home life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some time off to tend to personal matters! In order to succeed in a PhD program, it is best to have balance and stability in place so that you can focus on your studies, since it is going to involve rigorous coursework. If you feel that you need to be in the same location as your significant other, then you should wait a year and reapply around the location you are both residing in, or have your significant other move to the location where your PhD program is. And if your significant other is really struggling with depression, the best thing one can do for someone they care about is to support them, yes, but also urge them to seek treatment and advice from a mental health professional. 

I hope this helps!

Edited by EyelandPychePhD
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