Jump to content

Stanford vs. MIT (PhD in Chemistry)


Recommended Posts

Hi all,


I've narrowed down my choices between MIT and Stanford for a PhD in chemistry. I'm looking to do materials chemistry and physical chemistry with some interest in inorganic materials. I'm having a hard time picking even though there are sort of clear signs in one direction, but I don't want to feel like I'm taking an offer for peripheral reasons.



2 professors I'm interested in, 2 I could live with

program is not as good in materials

fellowship offer for 3 years

beautiful weather

faculty seemed a bit uptight

requirements are less and seem less rigorous (no candidacy)



3 professors that I'm interested in, at least 4 more that I could live with

top program in materials research and inorganic chemistry

no fellowships

I've heard MIT is poor in terms of quality of life

housing is expensive, stipend is not great


I like MIT a little better, but Stanford's package is better. It kind of comes down to an out of nowhere pick at this point, but I'm looking for thoughts.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry too much about more/less money. Your PI should fund you at either institution. At the end of the day, you're not making any money anyway. You'll have enough to live comfortably. 


Having fewer requirements is certainly nice, but not something that will hold you back from completing your PhD or prevent you from doing great work.


Quality of life heavily depends most on your colleagues and your adviser. It sounds like you have quite a few options to choose from at MIT. This is important since you won't necessarily get your first choice.


No arguments about the weather, it just comes down to how much you care!


Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose it depends on what you want to do afterwards! I feel like MIT prepares you better for faculty positions, while Stanford prepares one well for industry careers in the area. The program is only as good as the professors there-- between MIT and Stanford, I think it might be comparing apples and oranges because they don't do the same kind of materials chemistry.

Edited by loginofpscl
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I faced a similar decision a few weeks ago when I was deciding between Harvard and Scripps (also for a PhD in chemistry).  This may not sound incredibly insightful or helpful, but when it comes to two great programs such as these, you have to go with your gut.  What that means is that it's best to ignore all of the "fringe" stuff, such as weather, institutional fellowships, differences in pedigree etc.


Pete Schultz gave me some great advice about making these types of decisions.  He told me that the only two things that matter are "the science and the people: what research will you be doing and who will you be working with and for?"  That may be too simplistic of a philosophy for most cases, but the general idea is that the best fit for you is exactly that...a place for you and your personal preferences.  Don't let things like rankings or ill-informed family members influence your decision because you will be the one living and working wherever you choose for the next 6 years.  


Therefore, I think the best person to ask about making this decision is yourself.  If you really feel that you're 50:50, you can always try the trick where you literally flip a coin and gauge your emotions (whether they be excited, apprehensive, or whatever) upon learning the "coin's choice."  Personally, I didn't have to resort to that because I grew more and more excited about Harvard every day to the point where I could confidently make a final decision.


Regardless of where you choose, know that you'll end up at a phenomenal school with one of the best programs in the world for the research in which you're interested.  It's a decision without a "wrong" choice, so don't stress and go with your gut.

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

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use