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Advice about Transferring


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Hey everybody,


I was just wondering if anyone had any advice about transferring? Many people have told me that it is ok/acceptable to transfer to a new program after finishing a masters, but I have doubts that it is really that easy. How do you go about the process? At what point do you discuss it with your current advisor? Are you expected to get a recommendation letter from your current advisor (that seems awkward)? 


I am a first year grad student (been at my university for 6 months, i.e. longer than the fall semester) and I just don't feel like it's working out. I'm not making any decision now, because I know it is still too early. But when the time comes, I would like to be able to make an informed decision. I haven't found that much information about the transfer process online, especially for the Earth Sciences. I feel like subspecialties are so small, that it would difficult to transfer without burning bridges. Would it be advisable to only transfer if switching to a new field (like ocean chemistry to atmospheric chemistry, or something like that)?


Thanks, and Happy New Year!

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I can't speak to your field at all, so take this for what it's worth - but you might find this interesting. Duke university provides an SOP example from someone who is doing just this, transferring from one PhD program to another. It might provide some inspiration about how to frame the whole thing, and how doing so (at least in this case which is not in your field) for this student meant moving to a program that has a perfect fit with a very specific project. Have a look at the statement by Samuel Shearer:



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  • 3 weeks later...

In my experience it is, in fact, that easy. To some extent, I would argue that it may be more or less expected. For example, geology has a particular emphasis on building a diverse background. Not so much in terms of focusing on many disciplines, but exposure to different places and ideas. As the saying goes, "the best geologist is the one who's seen the most rocks." I see that you're a geochemist, so you may or may not be as field oriented, but the point I think is still valid. Moving around will ensure that you aren't "indoctrinated" by one school of thought, experience different labs - each has it's nuances even if largely the same, and ultimately the broader your experience the better you look on a resume - especially for industry. Furthermore, the the break from a Masters to a Phd is sometime used to "refocus" your research now that you probably have a better idea of your interest than when you were coming from undergrad. Of course, if you're sitting in a top lab and the adviser and research is a good fit, moving just for the sake of moving is silly in my opinion.


I've had quite a few  "should I stay or should I go" conversations with multiple professors, and really I've just parroted back what every one of them seemed to agree on. 


Hope that helps

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