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Applying to two grad programs at the same school?

  1. Aug 11, 2011 #1
    Is there anything "wrong" with applying to two programs at the same school, in different departments? Is this looked down upon in any way?

    I'll be applying for grad schools in the next few months, and I'm quite interested in an interdisciplinary area of research. Maryland has a "Chaos Group," and I think I'd like to do research in that area. http://www-chaos.umd.edu/ is the website for the research group.

    They collaborate with several departments, including the Physics department (which would be a natural choice for me, since I'm a physics undergrad) and applied mathematics.

    Nonlinear dynamics and chaos is listed on both the physics page (http://umdphysics.umd.edu/research/experimental/74-nonlineardynamicsexperiment.html) and the applied math page (http://www.amsc.umd.edu/research/research_group_websites.html) as research areas.

    So, if I wanted to do work in that area, would it make sense to apply to both the physics grad program AND the applied math grad program? Or is there a pitfall there I'm not aware of?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2011 #2
    The only issue would be if people perceive you as unfocused. And some schools might possibly prohibit you from applying to more than one program at once.

    That said, I think most likely this won't be a problem.

    I often thought you could earn a PhD in Logic through a Logic program, a Mathematics program, a CS program, or Philosophy.
  4. Aug 11, 2011 #3


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    From what I've noticed during my admission time, some universities seemed to assume students might apply to two different departments. I honestly am not even sure a department would even know you applied to a different department on campus.
  5. Aug 11, 2011 #4
    Some schools actually forbid applying to multiple departments, so you should just check. I know UCLA is one such example. But I can't imagine that there are many schools that don't allow it, seems pretty unfair.
  6. Aug 11, 2011 #5
    There's no general issue that I know of. You might want to check with the graduate school to make sure that there isn't any sort of weird "gotcha" issue with that particular school.
  7. Aug 13, 2011 #6
    I don't think you would be perceived as being unfocused since you're applying to work in a group where more than one department is actively involved. In fact, the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center actually encourages applicants to apply to multiple departments if the center is their main interest.

    Some schools within universities don't allow applications to more than one department. The engineering school at Columbia is like that. Although they've smartly placed both the Applied Physics and Applied Math programs are in the same department.
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