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3 hours ago, Rliggs said:

Hey guys! Was hoping to get some advice on this:

I got into three different PhD programs, all that I really like. One of them (USF) accepted me, but gave me an offer without funding. I talked with a contact at the school to gauge what this meant (are mentorship opportunities the same? success with external funding? how successful have unfunded students been in the past at securing research and funding?). He seemed to be incredibly optimistic, telling me that many students choose to attend USF unfunded and all have eventually received external or school based funding (based on their hard work) and that there are plenty of research opportunities. I really like USF, but I have funded offers at other schools. Does anyone know if being unfunded is has terrible as I originally thought? Any suggestions? Is it worth the uncertainty? Do you know anyone who has done it? What struggles are involved? Any advice is very much appreciated! 

 
 

I can't speak to the experience of being unfunded at a program (neither directly nor based on someone else's experience), but the one consistent piece of advice I've gotten is to not go somewhere unfunded (from ~8 faculty members at an "applying to doctoral programs" panel at a conference who were all in consensus on this, my undergraduate mentor, my supervisors and coworkers at my two jobs (both research assistant positions so working with people who are phds), and my professors who wrote my letters of recommendation) so I feel like there has to be a reason for this. I first heard this at that panel and there was more discussion as to why that is, but that was last September, but I'm afraid I don't remember what was said now and after that I've just kind of always accepted the advice without asking for more information whenever I've been told that :/ Sorry I can't give you more concrete advice or answers, but I would say if you really like the other two that are offering you funding maybe focus on them since those offer more certainty.

Edited by wknd_worrier
typos

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On 3/17/2017 at 8:02 PM, Rliggs said:

Hey guys! Was hoping to get some advice on this:

I got into three different PhD programs, all that I really like. One of them (USF) accepted me, but gave me an offer without funding. I talked with a contact at the school to gauge what this meant (are mentorship opportunities the same? success with external funding? how successful have unfunded students been in the past at securing research and funding?). He seemed to be incredibly optimistic, telling me that many students choose to attend USF unfunded and all have eventually received external or school based funding (based on their hard work) and that there are plenty of research opportunities. I really like USF, but I have funded offers at other schools. Does anyone know if being unfunded is has terrible as I originally thought? Any suggestions? Is it worth the uncertainty? Do you know anyone who has done it? What struggles are involved? Any advice is very much appreciated! 

Personally, I would not go somewhere unfunded if I had other, funded choices. The intensity of a PhD program usually means you will not have any time to work. This means you would have to borrow not only for tuition, but also for living expenses (unless you have a spouse or parent or something you can live with who is able to support you). IMO it is not worth going into debt to get a PhD, based on the competitiveness of the job market and the amount you will make coming out of school with a PhD (e.g. it will likely take a very long time to pay back the amount of debt you will have). If I had to choose between going into a PhD program unfunded or just getting a job and putting my PhD dreams on hold, I would probably pick the getting a job part. If I had to pick between 2 funded schools and 1 unfunded, I would definitely go with one of the funded ones. This is just my opinion, so please don't take it as gospel. But I do want to preface it to say that it has been heavily influenced by advice I have received from my major professors over the years. All of this advice has pretty much been consistent with what the previous poster said. From what I remember, the reasoning for it has been due to a combination of the reasoning I have typed out here, along with this reasoning: that if a school really really wants you, they will find a way to fund you. You want the school you go to to look at you as an investment, be invested in your future, and treat you as a priority. Of the few students I know who went to programs unfunded, the main complaint has been that they have other peers who were funded at their programs and that it can feel like the funded students are given priority. But if everyone in the USF program is unfunded, that probably won't be the case - so take that with a grain of salt.

Good luck making your decision! I hope this helps! Again, this is just my opinion, so don't take it as gospel! ;-)

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I just made a very difficult decision. I turned down a top ten school in favor of another (not top ten). My next hardest email is going to be turning down a funded offer in favor of an unfunded offer.

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Has anyone else been extended an offer of admission to UIC's Criminology, Law, and Justice program? I'm hoping to put my feelers out ther and chat about the program with other potential students. 

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8 hours ago, Veronicat said:

Has anyone else been extended an offer of admission to UIC's Criminology, Law, and Justice program? I'm hoping to put my feelers out ther and chat about the program with other potential students. 

I have! I won't be attending but the graduate director there is really awesome. 

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4 hours ago, RoadtoPhD said:

I have! I won't be attending but the graduate director there is really awesome. 

Yeah, I have a call set up with him tomorrow to go over some details. I haven't made my final decision but I am definitely leaning toward the program. Plus, being in Chicago is definitely a bonus. :) 

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