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Fit, finances and location


cocorosie
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Hi everyone,

I would really, really appreciate any advice or input anyone has about picking a program (they are professional degree programs and I haven't yet decided whether to definitely continue onto a PhD. I am leaning toward yes). I've narrowed it down to two schools. I'm feeling pretty torn and have gone back and forth several times between the two. They're both top 5 for my field, but still are very different. Students in both programs eventually go into practice and research. I've got a decision deadline and am afraid that the decision I make will come down to how I feel on that day. I'm finally leaning fairly heavily toward one, but this is after much vacillating.

School A:

  1. Faculty fit: Their faculty are impressive and doing lots of research, but fit with my personal interests is not great. I could definitely make it work, though.
  2. Department reputation:The department is #1 and well respected in the US and abroad
  3. Location: Not located anywhere near I'd eventually like to end up
  4. Curriculum: more practice based, no real focus on research (but I would supplement w/ research electives, and pursue research opportunities) and would leave will a great skill set for practice
  5. $?: Partial tuition scholarship
  6. Really great job placement/post grad placement.

School B:

  1. Faculty fit: Well aligned with my interests, large faculty with breadth of different research interests, most of which are interesting to me
  2. Department reputation: not as well known as School A for my department, known for other departments
  3. Location: Located where I'd eventually like to end up
  4. Can tailor curriculum very, very closely to my interests, would get experience in research
  5. $?: No money (I would try to get a RA or TA position but am worried that 20 hrs/week would hurt my studies when I could be attending school A and receiving a scholarship for no work.
  6. Good job placement/post grad placement, partially because of its great location

So I guess the big questions are, does it matter as much that faculty fit is not great for School A if it's for a masters program and not a doctoral? I know the stakes are certainly higher for doctoral. Also, I would find it difficult to turn down money and a better known department, for no money at a lesser known department--even if I do feel that School B's fit may be better. Which one would you choose? Thank you in advance for any advice!!!

Edited by cocorosie
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Hi. I'm not quite sure what field you're in--I'm in the life sciences, so my advice is coming from that perspective. I don't really have a full decision to give you, but here are two questions that came to mind.

Could you go get a free masters (using the time you gain from the extra funding to be really productive and produce papers, posters, and professional contacts) from A and then apply for your Ph.D to B if you decide you'd like to go that route?

If you decide that a masters is what you want, would your job prospects be better or worse for having had lots of teaching / RA experience?

Good luck with your decision--it sounds tough, but it's also (and kick me if you want to for saying this) an awesome problem to have. :)

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Hi. I'm not quite sure what field you're in--I'm in the life sciences, so my advice is coming from that perspective. I don't really have a full decision to give you, but here are two questions that came to mind.

Could you go get a free masters (using the time you gain from the extra funding to be really productive and produce papers, posters, and professional contacts) from A and then apply for your Ph.D to B if you decide you'd like to go that route?

If you decide that a masters is what you want, would your job prospects be better or worse for having had lots of teaching / RA experience?

Good luck with your decision--it sounds tough, but it's also (and kick me if you want to for saying this) an awesome problem to have. :)

thank you! this is very helpful. (don't mean to sound ungrateful as it is a good problem to have :) ) if i choose A, i'm definitely going to try to do as much as possible outside of the courses to get more experience and find mentors who have similar interests. (and p.s. wouldn't be free, but something is better than nothing!) i think if i decide i don't want to pursue a a PhD, the job prospects would be better at A. best of luck to you!

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I would go with B. If you can afford the financial sacrifice, location and connections will be key for industry position if you go that direction.

Sounds like A would be better for academia track.

For me, location is very important...

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