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Does anyone have any opinions on whether or not it's a good call to accept an offer to a fairly new PhD program? I'm trying to choose between two Canadian schools, one of which is a well established university with generally good rankings but whose PhD program is very new and admits only 1-2 students per year, and the other is not as well known generally speaking, but is quite well established in my particular field (Religious Studies). The hiring rate of the grads of the second school is also known to be quite high.

Would it be risky to accept an offer to the better known school with the new program, or should I go with the lesser known university with the well established program?

Has anyone had any experience with attending a brand new program with a low yearly student intake?

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Yes, I think it could possibly be risky to go with a brand-spanin'-new program. My mentor steered me away from applying to one or two when I was forming my application list.

Then again, if the new program has something really strong going for it, still consider it. If you had a really supportive and somewhat well-known POI, s/he may still have plenty of success in helping to place you in a job after the PhD.

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I think it is best to make the decision based on the strength of the departments rather than the overall rankings of the school. I attended a school with a relatively new English program for my Masters. However, the faculty at this school were pretty established, so the program was taken seriously.

Edited by ZeeMore21
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A related question: What about a new Ph.D. program could be problematic? Let's assume that all of the faculty are well-established and have lots of research experience and publications. The only two problems I see with enrolling in a new Ph.D. program are these:

(1) Relatively few graduate students to share your experiences with.

(2) An unproven reputation.

(2) may be serious, but if one is able to get published, or otherwise do good work, isn't a program's unproven reputation mitigated by good individual results?

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A related question: What about a new Ph.D. program could be problematic? Let's assume that all of the faculty are well-established and have lots of research experience and publications. The only two problems I see with enrolling in a new Ph.D. program are these:

(1) Relatively few graduate students to share your experiences with.

(2) An unproven reputation.

(2) may be serious, but if one is able to get published, or otherwise do good work, isn't a program's unproven reputation mitigated by good individual results?

The unproven reputation may be the factor preventing you from getting professorships or good jobs afterward though. I think that's the main issue.

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The unproven reputation may be the factor preventing you from getting professorships or good jobs afterward though. I think that's the main issue.

Exactly. Jobs are hard enough to come by as it is. Schools with unproven reputations are risky business as far as the job market is concerned.

Edited by aselfmadewinter
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Exactly. Jobs are hard enough to come by as it is. Schools with unproven reputations are risky business as far as the job market is concerned.

OK obviously I have an agenda to push, and I'm looking at a new Ph.D. program for the fall. Can't good recommendations, documented research experience and good grades all contribute to offsetting this negative factor?

At risk of being too vague, approximately what percentage of a Ph.D. holder's graduate school affect his/her overall appeal to potential employers?

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I agree that strength of the professors you work with and the work you're able to produce is what is most important on the job market (or at least, that's my opinion about my field—I think rankings are a bunch of bull). But I think the other danger besides it being an unknown is that sometimes the kinks in the system aren't yet worked out.

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