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Accepted by two departments

  1. Feb 14, 2015 #1
    So I've been accepted by two departments at the same university for a PhD program. Department 1 offered me a TA, and Department 2 offered me an RA with a small fellowship. I would prefer to study in Department 1. But, would it be okay for me to ask Department 1 if I can enroll with them, but accept the RA from Department 2? And thus do research in Department 2 while studying in Department 1?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2015 #2

    Quantum Defect

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    First-off, congratulations!

    A lot of this depends upon the ways that the Departments get along. One possibility would be to work for a professor in Department 1 while being enrolled in Department 2 or vice versa. My wife was in this kind of an arrangement. She got a PhD in physics while working with a professor who had his primary appointment in Chemistry.

    You need to also think about which Department will be better for you after the PhD. If you really want to get a job teaching at a University in a Physics Department, you might have better luck finding a position if you have a PhD in physics.

    I would be careful, though. If Department 1 and 2 don't get along, you might potentially annoy people by asking the question. Tread carefully.

    Probably the more sensible way to look at this is to decide which research group(s) you would like to be in, look at the Departmental affiliation of the professor, and look at the current students (and recent past students) in the group, and see from which Department the students got their PhDs. Pick the Department to enter that looks like the best fit.
  4. Feb 15, 2015 #3
    Thanks a lot! I've been waiting and hoping for this to happen for a long, long time.

    My understanding is that as a Research Assistant, you are basically an employee of a professor and you help them on their research? But the research done under the RA doesn't count towards your dissertation?

    I would definitely rather be an RA than a teaching assistant, but I would prefer to study in Department 1 (a math department). However, I still find the research in department 2 (more applied research) very interesting and I think it could give me valuable experience and possibly good ideas for dissertation work.

    How would I go about finding this out? Seems no matter who I ask I would probably have to give my reasons for asking.
  5. Feb 15, 2015 #4

    Quantum Defect

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    I think that if you would really prefer to study in Department 1, you should do that. Being a student in Department 1 will not preclude you from taking classes, or doing research with people in Department 2.

    I really enjoyed teaching in graduate school, and if you are thinking at all about academia, this is an important thing to find out sooner rather than later (i.e. whether you enjoy teaching). I am not so sure about Mathematics Programs, but in most physical science PhD programs you will do some teaching in the beginning and do research for the rest of yout time as a graduate student. So, beyond the first few years, it does not make much difference.

    As far as sussing out the politics, you might talk to some of your current professors about your ideas of which offer to take. These people will know the two programs best; they will know you best, and they will probably provide better advice than anyone else.
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