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I have narrowed my list down to these two schools and I am trying to make the decision and would love an outside perspective!

Wisconsin Madison:


*Tons of labs that interest me, including a relatively famous PI who has shown interest in me

*a location that really appeals to me (though I have never been)

*good impression during visit days, people had good work life balance, the school seemed very supportive etc.



*stipend seems a little low (even taking into account COL) especially because you have to pay student fees and health insurance premiums

*students seemed a little aimless, like no one could really answer what are you planning after grad school? Career development did not seem to be a big focus

*far from family




*A select few faculty whose research I find very compelling and who have indicated I could work with them. My work is also closely adjacent to biophysics and Yale is one of the best places in the country for that research

*Very generous stipend (including a fellowship and great health insurance)

*Close to family 

*school name carries weight if I were to leave research

*many career development opportunities


*location does not appeal to me

*most faculty I am interested in are new faculty and I worry about funding and tenure and their inexperience with mentoring

*small department


Let me know what you think! Thank you!

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I've actually committed to the UW Madison Chemistry PhD program starting this fall, so obviously I would pick Madison over Yale. For you, I wonder which of your pros/cons you hold in higher priority. Are location and proximity to family very important to you?

You mentioned career development opportunities - do you know what you plan to do in your career? My current PI believes UW Madison carries as much weight as any top chemistry program if you were to pursue a career in research or academia. If that's not what you want, that's a point for Yale. 

As far as labs you're interested in,  as long as there are several labs at both places you would be happy working in, then that's reason enough to go. You may be worried about the Yale faculty's inexperience, but is that make or break for you? Would that prevent you from wanting to join those labs? Similarly, does the research at Madison interest you enough to choose that over Yale? Do you think you would fit in with not just the research, but also the group culture of labs you're interested in at both schools?

As for the stipend, I think as long as it's enough to live off of comfortably (and I think Madison's is) it's not worth comparing differences of a few thousand dollars a years between programs once you've accounted for COL. 


Good luck with your decision!

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