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need help to make a crucial decision regarding my PHD


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I am about to finish my master this semester and i was accepted in the PHD program in the same university for the spring semester. The problem is it is not one of the top university and I am really still thinking if I should go for it or not. I have not applied to other universities yet but i am afraid if i passed this opportunity i will not get accepted anywhere else, I am an international student and i need to get a research assistantship to study in the US. My advisor talked to me and he is willing to offer me funding and a scholarship but he wants me to make a decision in the next two day. I was thinking to start the program next semester and apply for other universities in the mean time and if i was accepted I will transfer. I do not know if I should tell my advisor about these plans as he might retract his offer, but I think I should be honest. What should i do????

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If you like your advisor, his research and you like your school enough, I would take his offer to stay. If you do not like your master's program and really want to leave that school, it makes sense that you want to apply elsewhere. But if you like it or feel ambivalent and your main motivator is university rank, I would not support giving up a sure thing for a chance.

Applications are a risk - you might get in, you might not. Even if you do get acceptances, it's not a guarantee that you will like your program or your advisor - as evidenced by a lot of the posts on GradCafe. Not to mention the time, energy and stress you'd invest in the application process. You could probably even shave some time off of your degree by entering into a program with which you're already familiar, versus relocating to another city/state/country and starting from scratch. It's a huge advantage.

I definitely would not share your plans to enter the program and apply to other places - your advisor might retract the offer because you'd be making it pretty obvious that you don't really want to be there. Unless his offer of admission & funding is on paper, he could take it back without consequence. Either way, he'd probably be insulted and you'd hurt your relationship with him, which might have a greater impact than you could imagine. Academia is a small world.

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I would second the first reply and add that it will be difficult to apply to other programs without letters of recommendation from your advisor, so I don't think you should try to keep secrets. If you didn't accept the offer, would you be able to stay until next fall without taking classes? If you do stay, would you be in a position to get involved with research sooner?

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