Jump to content
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

An advise on changing a graduate school

Recommended Posts

Hi guys,


I have started my PhD in Canada last year but due to the life difficulties that I am having here I would like to change to a graduate school in U.S. In addition, I could not go along with my supervisor we had a lot of difficulties. Basically, each year 2 students drop his group :)


My question is that to change to a graduate school in U.S. from PhD degree, I know I would be questioned about the reasons. I could not tell the problems related with my supervisor but I can tell the living difficulties and personal reasons for me. In that case, if I can not get a good recommendation letter from my current institution, what will be my chances to be accepted a grad school in U.S?


I know transferring is not common and not an easy process but it woul be very useful someone who has an experience on this issue could share his stories or difficulties that she/he had.


BTW, I am keep in touch with some profs in U.S. but they do not know I have some problems with my advisor.


What do you think that if I skip this part of my life as a PhD and instead of that write research assitant or some related words that can cover my last year in PhD?


Thanks fot your thoughts and answers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't give advice on how to transfer, but I can tell you trying to "cover up" that you were in a PhD program by saying you were a research assistant (or anything else) will make you look really bad as an applicant. You should not try to hide things from the committees. It is dishonest and will make them question whether or not you can be successful and honest in your work. 

Knowing what field you're in would probably help the others to give you advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think you can actually "transfer" graduate programs. Every school wants to be sure that its graduates (who carry around the name of the school) completed exactly the program they prescribed. So, I think it's pretty rare to be able to "transfer", by which I mean being able to keep credits earned in your previous PhD program etc.


However, you can still reapply to a new graduate program in the US. Usually, PhD programs in Canada require you to have a MS or MSc first -- is this the case? Some US PhD programs will reduce some requirements if you come into a PhD program with a Masters degree, but many will not. So, reapplying and getting into a US PhD program will mean starting over, which is another 5-6 years. I know that in Canada, PhD programs where you have a Masters first (maybe from the same school, maybe not) tend to take 3-4 years.


I also think it would also be harder to get into a new PhD program after you've already started one than directly from a MS or BS degree. So you should definitely explain in your application why this new PhD opportunity will be different from your current program. As you said, you shouldn't give details about you and your supervisor (but you can mention something like "bad fit" etc.). Montreal is a big Canadian city that is not too different from other US cities on the east coast (other than the French) so if you apply to these schools, you might want to make sure you explain why this new place will be better for you. I guess you should also consider a new supervisor at the same school, but it sounds like the personal reasons are driving your desire to move more than your supervisor "fit".


You should definitely not lie about your status as a PhD student in your current program -- so you will have to provide transcripts etc. But you don't have to consider the last year as a waste -- it's a year as a research assistant in a PhD program, which is generally a good experience to have, so you can also put this on your CV or write about the work you did in your SOP etc.


Good luck!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I would use personal difficulties or a dislike of the area as a reason to transfer.  Most graduate professors will find that a weak reason, and furthermore - as TakeruK already pointed out - Montreal is a large Canadian city that, aside from the Francophone heritage, is pretty similar to most East Coast American cities.


I would make it all about professional fit.  It gets tricky if you want to do the same research but just in a different place, but you could say that the goals of the department and the lab that you are currently in don't match up with your professional goals or that the research focus you want to take is different now, and you would would like the opportunity to work more precisely in XX field as opposed to XY.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.