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applying to department different from POI(s)


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Hi all,


I'm a little confused about what department to apply for--my research interests are fairly interdisciplinary (somewhere between materials science, chemistry and electrical engineering). As a result, my POI lists for schools often cover 2~3 departments (this is less of a problem at schools that are generous with their joint appointments).


I'd like to do my PhD in the same department as my undergraduate study (materials science), but does that mean I'm limited to mentioning materials science POIs in my SoP? Would it be really bad if I mentioned a POI from electrical engineering (who does materials research, but doesn't have a joint appointment) in my application for a materials science graduate program? Or maybe I should just apply for the department of my main POI/the department with the most POIs I'm interested in?


Thanks in advance!

Edited by propapanda
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I am running into this problem too since my interests are somewhere between computational biology, physics, and chemistry. Some schools have interdisciplinary programs with most of the PIs in my research area affiliated. I can usually find a phd program (whether it is biophysics, biochem, comp bio, whatever) with most of the relevant PIs affiliated at each school. I am not set on applying to the same department as my undergrad but instead am applying wherever the most PIs are. I think that you will limit yourself if you are set on applying to only 1 type of department which such interdisciplinary interests.


I wouldnt assume that you can work with PIs in other departments but this is sometimes allowed. I think your bet bet would be to contact the specific departments and ask about their policies on this.

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Thanks for your reply! It feels really disappointing to limit my list of POIs to one department, as you are doing, but perhaps it's the only choice. I know some schools are fairly open to PhD students working in labs in another department--ie, you can go to a lab's webpage and see that the students come from a variety of disciplines. I will certainly will contact the specific departments about this. 

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