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Entering a Bio PhD program but researching in an unrelated lab?


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I've been wondering about what happens to grad students that, at least for the biomedical sciences, join a lab that might be a bit removed from their PhD program.

For instance, a bunch of schools that have umbrella programs have faculty associated with the program from across the spectrum (from hardcore bio, to psychology, to engineering). 

So, if a person from a bio umbrella program joins a tissue engineering lab, for example, and their PhD dissertation is on that topic, is their PhD still in Biology, or would it be engineering?

 

I'm curious because even though I'm looking at umbrella programs, I sure would like the opportunity to rotate in a laboratory that might complement my undergraduate studies with something more translational, or even applied (the engineering part). Hence, I wanted to know what people in such a situation end up graduating with; I'd also be curious to know how often people apply to Bio PhD programs to get into engineering based labs (most engineering PhD programs don't allow non-engineering undergrad majors to apply).

 

 

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Does it really matter what your degree says? 

Well, I'm not actually sure if it does or it doesn't, but I'm also wondering about what decides what degree one is conferred.. That's why I asked my question. I guess since purely academic prospects are no longer guaranteed, one might want to be able to sell their education to different career avenues. Therefore, knowing whether, for instance, someone in a stem cell laboratory can get a PhD in Stem Cell Biology vs. PhD in Biology when they are in an umbrella program is something I'm curious to know.

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My advisors told me it literally doesn't matter. I don't know if all schools do it different, but I know the 2 umbrellas I applied to wind up giving you a degree in umbrella-program-name.

That's how my umbrella program does it. We also have concentrations so that can be put on a resume/CV as could the department if you so desire.

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