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Grad School in same college, different department?


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Hi all,


I am a current undergraduate switching fields. I recently got admitted to one of my college's PhD program (very well ranked in the field). I've heard that it's not advisable for students to get all their degrees from the same school, but it seems like that advice applies to mostly people remaining in the same department.


What are your thoughts on staying at the same school but at a different department for a PhD?




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I think this would be okay.
Before I graduated from undergrad, I had a conversation with one of my professors about the graduate school process in general. He said that our department simply refuses to admit its own undergrad students into the PhD program. The reason he gave was that there simply wasn't very much more that the department could offer you as a graduate student that it didn't offer you as an undergrad-- you would have already taken most of the classes (undergrads could and did take grad-level courses in our department), made use of the department's best resources, and forged all of the professional connections that you could during undergrad. He also argued that it's generally better for students to expose themselves to as many new ideas as possible, and that meant enrolling in programs at other schools and working with a different set of faculty.
All of those are legitimate points, but they only really apply if you're staying within your field. My professor was absolutely right that there wasn't too much more that my undergrad entomology department could have offered me as a PhD student. But (and this is a hypothetical example) if I suddenly decided that I'd rather work on plants, I'd bet that there was a lot that the plant science department at that same school could have offered me.
So, I think you should be fine if you decide to stay at the same school. But, if you have offers elsewhere too, don't immediately count them out. Sometimes a change of scenery can be quite nice! If you stay there for a PhD, you'll be spending ~10 years in one school and town. Could you see yourself doing that? If so, and this really is your top choice, then go for it!
If you do stay and are looking at an eventual career in academia, I would advise doing a postdoc at another institution later on, though. It goes back to the whole idea of exposing yourself to new perspectives.
Edited by zabius
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thanks zabius! I do really like the program and city, but I think I would feel pretty tied down to live in the same place for so long!! On the plus side, it will be closer to family (drivable, whereas most of my other options aren't really drivable).


One thing I'm concerned about is what people would think when they see "University of XXX" twice on my CV (Bachelors, Doctorate). I'm unsure if I want to go into academia at this point, but it remains a viable option, and I certainly don't want to hurt my chances!


- clamofee

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When I see degrees on CV, it's something like

PhD, 2016, Planetary Science, University of X

BS, 2011, History, University of X


So, I think it would be clear that you were in different programs even if you stayed at the same school.

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Guest hopefulfool

This is not a problem at all since you are going to a different department, but I would strongly discourage those thinking of staying in the same department for undergrad and graduate school. 

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