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transferring from one graduate program to another school


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Um. Transferring in grad school is not like transferring in undergrad. You don't "transfer", for the most part--you apply as a first-year student all over again, and maybe you're allowed to transfer in some credits. (My dept allows you to transfer a grand total of 3 credits, or one class). This is pragmatic--the point of a grad degree from a specific school is that you received your training from that institution. Your abilities and success as a working professional will reflect directly on the quality of your grad dept.

But poor research fit does happen. How far are you into your program? A lot of people who switch (like me! and I even switched disciplines!) do so after 2 years, leaving the first program with a terminal master's degree.

You will need letters of recommendation from your CURRENT program, not just ones from undergrad. They can attest that you are an awesome grad student and that your leaving your current school is not due to inability to handle the material but simply poor fit. You'll want to explain in your SOP how you determined the first program is in fact a poor fit--chances are you didn't think so when you agreed to attend, after all. This is actually a *great* way to frame the academic journey/how I got into my research topic section of the SOP! So be sure you are cultivating relationships with profs at your current school.

Also, be sure to talk with the DGS and your current advisor about your misgivings. Sometimes poor research fit only seems like it. Maybe the faculty would be willing to work with you to keep you? In my case, they were prepared (and did) approve me to continue on to the PhD at what turned out to be my MA school, with the understanding that my dissertation would be flexing the usual boundaries of medieval theology a little (or...a lot, as it is turning out. Thank heavens I am no longer in theology). Maybe your profs can come to a similar type of arrangement for you?

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Thanks for the reply. I just saw your post. I don't know about talking to my current school about the issue. I don't think my school or any other school would like to hear that at all. I just started the program with the promise to do the research I wanted but after 2 months I realized that known of the faculty is interested in my research area. Also I hold a master degree so I have rec from graduate level study. I don't know also about asking any of my current prof for recommendations.

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