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What's more important advisor or program ranking?

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I am torn b/w two programs both of which have professors doing research I'm interested in.  I'll list the pros and cons of my dilemma.


School A: Program is ranked among the best in the world, and I will be working with a very established, well known, and well networked tentured professor.  The one problem is the professor is known to not be the best advisor and to keep the students for a long time.  This can be mitigated by changing professors, but this professor is the only one doing the EXACT research I'd like, so I can do other things of interest but not exactly what I would like to do.


School B: Program is still world renown but just not among the top 5.  My advisor would be newer (an associate professor), but all the students seem happy with well balanced lives.  The school is international so I'm worried about my ability to network properly in the US (esp with a less senior professor), but the prof has connections in one of the places I'd like to live after I graduate.  The city is also more expensive, and I would have to TA (money on top of the stipend) in order to make a living wage (though I LOVE teaching so its not a big deal).  The program also requires less classes (which gives more tme to teach) and the professor is respectful of your time, so I'd definitely graduate sooner.  I also feel very comfortable with this professor and I feel excited to work with the lab as well.  There are also more professor at this school doing my research of interest so if I choose to switch I won't necessarily have to change my topic as drastically.


HELP!  I feel like there are enough pros and cons that I could convince myself of either.     

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Regarding school A: Where have this professor's former students ended up? Just because the professor is well-known and well-connected doesn't automatically mean that the professor's students will benefit. Is it possible that you could develop a passion for (get "hooked on") the sort of research that some other professor does?


Regarding school B: Be careful -- teaching, fun as it may be, can be an enormous time and energy sink. Does fewer required classes mean that you will not learn and develop as many skills as you would in the other program? As far as advisor is concerned, where will this professor's career be in ~5 years, when you are finishing your dissertation? Perhaps (s)he will have advanced in rank to "full professor" and will have a much larger professional network than (s)he has currently.


Based solely on the information in your original post, it seems like School B is the better choice.

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To answer some questions

The POI at school A, does have students getting internships and positions at great places.

The POI at school B is very likely to get tenure by the time I graduate (based on speaking with people at the program) and is well known and liked in the department. I considered fewer classes being a pro because I could more focus on research sooner. The POI is graduating his first PhD students this year so I don't know where his students end up but they seem to have good prospects (two of three of his MS students we on to get their PhD from MIT and the third stayed under him for his PhD)

Edited by OR PhD or Bust
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