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Changing PhD programs midyear - is it done?

Minh T

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I've finished the master's portion of a ~5 year humanities PhD and have decided to leave my current program and try to start a different one at another university that is a much better fit for my interests. I am pretty confident I'll be accepted when I apply (the faculty in my target program know and like my work, it's a really solid fit, I'll have strong letters of recommendation from folks in my current program, etc.) but the application deadline for fall was December '12, and I'm loathe to have to wait until winter to apply for Fall '14 when I'd be ready to start at the new university in Fall '13 if they'd let me.


Should I contact the Director of Graduate Studies (or someone else?) in my target program and ask them if there's any possibility I could apply now and start in the fall, or even next spring? I'm afraid to ask if such a thing is so unheard of that I'd look foolish for inquiring... Any help would be appreciated!

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If you want it badly enough to say you cannot tolerate another year of waiting


then ask


and the longer you go not asking, the less likely a transfer will be possible.





As a side, i have seen transfers across numerous faculty, but usually its related fields - from socio to anth, or phil of mind to psych, not something like say med to law.

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You can ask, but expect that the answer is likely no, especially if you are in a field that does not accept transfer credits from other programs.  (For example, in my field unless there are exceptional circumstances - usually an advisor leaving University A and going to University B and negotiating for the students they bring - you don't so much as transfer from A to B as you do apply to B and start over.  At most, you may get one semester of credit, but you usually have to take more classes and take their qualifying exams all over.)

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