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Applying to two different departments at the same school


Lantern
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I am interested in applying to two different departments within the same school. I have been working on two separate SOPs, and have been planning to apply to both departments for months now. Just recently (with the deadline rapidly approaching) I started to wonder if this is going to look like I don't have focus. The thing is, I do have focus. I would be extrememly happy to do either program for graduate school and for a career afterwards. But I don't know if it will look bad to have two different SOPs both saying "this is really what I want to do" when, in fact, they're two different things. One program is straight up marine biology and the other is marine policy. Does everyone else really only have one thing that they really want to do?

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Thanks so much for the link! I tried searching the past forums thinking I had seen something a few months ago, but couldn't find it. Sorry to re-post a similar topic.

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I am interested in applying to two different departments within the same school. I have been working on two separate SOPs, and have been planning to apply to both departments for months now. Just recently (with the deadline rapidly approaching) I started to wonder if this is going to look like I don't have focus. The thing is, I do have focus. I would be extrememly happy to do either program for graduate school and for a career afterwards. But I don't know if it will look bad to have two different SOPs both saying "this is really what I want to do" when, in fact, they're two different things. One program is straight up marine biology and the other is marine policy. Does everyone else really only have one thing that they really want to do?

I also have applied to two departments in one school. The second department was recommended to me by a professor n the first department. She recognized that I was already focused on one area within the broader scope of her department. The second department specializes in that particular area. I would think marine policy is an more focused area within the broader area of marine biology in general. Similar pattern?

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I also have applied to two departments in one school. The second department was recommended to me by a professor n the first department. She recognized that I was already focused on one area within the broader scope of her department. The second department specializes in that particular area. I would think marine policy is an more focused area within the broader area of marine biology in general. Similar pattern?

Lastdazeman, thanks for replying. I think my situation is a little different than yours. In your situation it definitely seems wise to apply to both departments. The problem in my situation is that I would like to focus on something different in each department. In both I would be working with marine fish, but in one I would be studying aquaculture, and in the other I would be studying migratory patterns of pelagic gamefish. I would be absolutely thrilled to do either one, and if I could personally express this to the adcom, it is possible that they would understand, but I can't exactly put in my SOP, "this is what I REALLY want to do with my life...or this!" Now I am leaning toward only applying to one department.

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Lastdazeman, thanks for replying. I think my situation is a little different than yours. In your situation it definitely seems wise to apply to both departments. The problem in my situation is that I would like to focus on something different in each department. In both I would be working with marine fish, but in one I would be studying aquaculture, and in the other I would be studying migratory patterns of pelagic gamefish. I would be absolutely thrilled to do either one, and if I could personally express this to the adcom, it is possible that they would understand, but I can't exactly put in my SOP, "this is what I REALLY want to do with my life...or this!" Now I am leaning toward only applying to one department.

I did the same thing as you and applied to 2 different departments/colleges within the same school. I would be SUPER HAPPY studying both topics & devoting my research to them (generally similar, like yours; much of it will be the same, including methodology, but different enough topics). If this is seen as lack of focus...well, I don't know. I went for it anyway. Just wanted to let you know that you're not alone. :)

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Lastdazeman, thanks for replying. I think my situation is a little different than yours. In your situation it definitely seems wise to apply to both departments. The problem in my situation is that I would like to focus on something different in each department. In both I would be working with marine fish, but in one I would be studying aquaculture, and in the other I would be studying migratory patterns of pelagic gamefish. I would be absolutely thrilled to do either one, and if I could personally express this to the adcom, it is possible that they would understand, but I can't exactly put in my SOP, "this is what I REALLY want to do with my life...or this!" Now I am leaning toward only applying to one department.

It is due on the 8th or after, email the departments. See what they say. Some schools will have no idea about you applying to more than one department. Some will only let you apply to one on the online app. Email the one you care about more and ask, "I am very interested in your program, would it reflect poorly on my application if I applied to this other department too?" Tell them what you're interested in their department, tell them the other department you're considering, and let them infer that it's a similar project from a different angle (that's possible, right?). I mean make it clear that you care more about that department. Some people will care, some won't, but some programs definitely would mark you as an "unserious student" if you apply to two programs in two different disciplines.

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Thanks for your opinions, everyone. Just thought I would follow up and post what I did and why incase anyone else reads this thread seeking advice. I decided to apply to only one program. I probably would have followed jacib's advice, but the deadline for the department that I didn't apply to was today, so discussing it with the department wasn't an option for me at this late date due to the holiday. About a month ago, I had mentioned it to the chair of the other department that I did apply to, and it was definitely possible. But I hadn't mentioned to her that I wanted to study two very different things, so I'm not sure how that would have gone over. I also wasn't feeling very positive about getting accepted to the department that I didn't apply to, because I had contacted several professors there and no one got back to me. In the department that I did apply to, I got very helpful and positive return emails. Hope that makes sense.

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I took the other route and applied to 2 departments at two of my schools. I'll let everyone know how that works out for future reference. Mind you my situation is a little different as I want to study the same topic and it fits in both departments.

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