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Applying to Different Program After MA?


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I am currently in a Top 15 PhD program finishing up my MA degree.

I have developed research interests that are outside of my department's sub-fields and would like to apply to a few different programs this fall. I was initially going to go to my chair and be honest about going elsewhere. However, another student has warned me that he will likely react badly to my decision to leave the program. I have a prestigious fellowship that makes me attractive to other schools, but also means that my current department will be angry if I leave.

I am not wanting to leave due to personal issues with any of the faculty. My interests have shifted substantially and after a series of meetings with professors I've realized that I need to seek mentorship in a different program.

So here's my conundrum: I need at least 1 recommendation letter from my current program. However, I'm afraid that if I go to my chair he will "black list" me for the remainder of my 2nd year.

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Is there any way that you could get a mentor or two from outside of your program and just remain in your current one? Having an outside reader is pretty common, so you could probably bring in someone else pretty easily for your dissertation committee. You might also see if your department has any exchange programs with other institutions. My grad department did and students could spend a semester or year at another institution, working with the faculty there. You might want to see if there's an option like that available to you. I suggest both of these because you seem worried about getting a positive recommendation out of your current program.

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