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[ECE][PhD] Change Research Interest or Transfer?


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Hey guys,

First important to say that this forum feels like home! Thanks for sharing your opinions, it's good to know there are out there as many people having similar situations to yours.

My situation is the following: I am an international ECE PhD student at a university ranked ~25 in the US. I have a tuition waiver for the first year but no RA. It would be possible for me to afford the expenses of the Spring and Summer terms but I definitely want an RA or TA for next year. My problem is that i cant find a research match as the one who has the closest research interests to mine is not taking PhD students anymore. I am left with one of the below choices:

1. Change my research interest and work with an available professor (not sure about this since i dont wanna rush decision)

2. Try to transfer to another university, this way i may hit 3 at a time (Better univ - RA - Research match) but will have to apply again (recommendations..)

3. Try to arrange some internship in the summer term from which i can earn like 5k to help myself financially (although this does not entirely solve the pb)

4. Wait until done with my coursework (end of this year) and then search for an advisor

Please share your opinions. For 2, is it frequent for universities to accept transferring PhDs? Does this undermine my chances of being accepted? (there's a little info concerning that on the web)



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research interests are not defined in neat little boxes. You'll find that there is a certain amount of overlap even between seemingly unrelated areas. What you can do is look at your interests and how they fit into the big picture. Then go to the professors with somewhat different interests with the mindset that you're going to bring something new to their group. Think of it as pitching an idea to venture capitalists, you should address what you want to do and emphasize how it can benefit their interests.

As for getting a TA-ship, generally those are handled slightly differently than RA-ships so you should ask your department about that.

regarding your choices, I don't think you have to pick just one, you can talk to professors, talk to your department and look for internships at the same time. I don't really know anything about transferring but I'd imagine that you'd want to be very careful about how you phrase things (to your current school and new school), the research community is small and you don't want to burn any bridges.

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