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Switching Graduate Programs


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Hey guys,

Alright, so I am kind of in a dilemma. I was recently accepted to a program, I accepted their offer. I want to focus on alternative energy sources, this topic will draw upon more scientific principles than the social sciences. However, the program to which I am accepted into focuses on improving the environment mainly from the perspective of social sciences. For instance, instead of researching alternative energy sources, you would be researching how these alternative sources can have a positive impact on a community. I was recently on the university's website looking at programs under environmental sciences, and I came across the MES (Masters on Environmental Science) program which is for those without a science background but want to enter the field. This was the first time I had heard about this program, for some reason it was not listed under graduate programs when I applied.

Is there any way in which I can possible transfer to this program (they are in two separate departments)? I would rather switch now than switch later on. Do you think I would have to repeat the application process all over again, or will my current department transfer my application materials to the Department of Environmental Sciences? Also, I realize that I could probably get a similar if not the same job if I went through with my current program, but it is an MSc in Capacity Development and many environmental consulting jobs require MSc Environmental Sciences or MES (or anything along those lines). I mean if I am going to spend two years in school, might as well do something that closely relates to my interests.

Also, I feel bad about switching, I really don't want to come across as a jerk to my temporary advisor.

Edited by screamorange
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Usually, switching between programs in the same school isn't a big deal. I just did it (although I already put a year in the old program). Call up your adviser and explain the situation. I doubt you will come across as "a jerk" but, even if you do, it's your education. It never hurts to ask.

The other thing to do would be to look at the overlap between the two programs. First year coursework is usually pretty similar. It might not hurt to just stay the course now and get a better feel for things once you have put in some time.

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MoJingly is right. But the administrative issues around you getting out of the other program with a degree labelled by that program might require reapplicaiton and other bureaucratic stuff you don't have time for. Another good compromise: if you are doing a research project, could you get a second supervisor from the other prefered program so that you are, in effect, working in both programs at once? That way you'll have access to the insight of both faculty at once. It could be a nice balance and you'll be more versatile for doing a more interdisciplinary thing. P.S. don't feel bad about just learning about this other program. Many grad programs are notoriously bad at promoting themselves. They are academics after all, not advertising experts.

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