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Transfering from PhD program to another...


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Hey All,


I am blessed to be in a fantastic program, but for a variety of reasons, I would rather be in another.  Was wondering if I could share my story in the hopes that someone who has transferred programs (or not) could provide some advice...


Fall 2012 - contact and meet with POI and lab.  Meeting was great (believe me, I've been to enough awkward meetings to know when it doesn't go well).


Winter 2012 - Apply to a variety of psych PhD programs.  Rejected from POI's school, but get accepted into a much higher rated one (I know these rankings are a bit arbitrary, but to give you an idea, the one that rejected me was in the US News 40's and the one that I am in now is in the teens).  Don't hear back from POI above.  Accept the higher ranked school.


Fall 2013 - Start current program


Feb 2014 - realize that I would be much happier at other school (complicated and don't want to bore with details, but I'm sure of it) and email POI to ask about 2014 or 2015 availability.  POI writes nice message stating that it's too late for 2014 and that she isn't sure of funding for 2015.  A bit vague, but not necessarily discouraging.


Anyway, as is so commonly stated on this forum, what are my chances?  I'm well aware of how rough the admission process can be for "new" students, but have no idea about folks who have completed at least a year at another program.


Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

Edited by guitargeorge
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Well, I can't tell you a ton, but I can tell you: you would not be a transfer student. There's not a way to transfer like there is in college, you'd be applying like everyone else would. I can tell you that I've also heard that unless you have a big reason (family death, or something similar), quitting a program after a few years and applying elsewhere is seen as a red flag, and something that you would need to explain. So basically: I would suggest you really assess whether you maybe are experiencing some cold feet with your current program, or whether your research focus/personal needs have changed enough that you're willing to go through this whole process again, knowing that you might be burning bridges at your current program, and that it's possible you wouldn't get into any others.


Sorry for being a bit of a debbie downer.

Edited by bre333
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My bad.  I screwed up the dates in my original post.  Made edits to make things more clear.  In terms of why I'd like to switch, it's mainly for family reasons - though in the end prefer the research direction of the other lab. 

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Well, we all have ideal programs and top choices, but when you accept another offer, you essentially are making the decision to move on from that as a possibility as you have committed to completing a PhD in a different program/institution.  It is generally perceived very negatively in the community and can make it even harder to get in a second time than it was the first time.  I would just let it go.  Usually when people say extreme circumstances I have heard the most acceptable ones without burning bridges and having to make awkward explanation are things like mentor dies or quits, or other things like program loses accreditation.  I would be very careful about your current program finding out you are window shopping other programs after accepting their offer and being in their program. 


I'm not well versed on the subject, but generally what I have heard is that this is a dangerous move.

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