1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Does It Look Bad To Go To The Same School For Undergrad And Ph.D?

  1. May 7, 2013 #1
    Does It Look "Bad" To Go To The Same School For Undergrad And Ph.D?

    If the school that you're attending for your undergrad also has a Ph.D. program that interest you would it look bad on your curriculum vitae to have the same school listed twice? I've heard that you should try to go to a different school for your Ph.D. because it shows diversity. Is there any truth to this?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2013 #2


    User Avatar

    Yes, that's considered 'academic incest'. Some top schools (like MIT) won't even consider their own undergraduates for their graduate programs for that reason. You should go somewhere new, work with new people, make new connections, learn new ways of doing things.
  4. May 7, 2013 #3
    But how does it look to employers? Pretty much the same?
  5. May 7, 2013 #4
    I almost went to the same school as my undergrad for my Phd but I wanted a new perspective on things. I had some professors that were alright and others that I would take 10 classes from. To academia, I could see staying at the same school to be an issue because academia has their own little pompous world. It might raise questions if you were capable of getting into other schools or you don't like change. Academia is also very political, so if you can make relationships with certain professors they can open bigger doors than others.

    To employers it won't matter. Employers want your skills exploited and if you have the skills they need you're in.
  6. May 7, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    It's not really a major factor at all in my opinion.

    Factors such as the quality of the program itself, the instructors, the opportunities, your actual performance in the program, and even financial constraints are far more important.
  7. May 8, 2013 #6
    It's much more common (doing a phd in the same university) in Europe as far as I've seen. Seeing how most have to go through a masters first, unless they can afford to go elsewhere, they'll probably get more research contact with profs at their home institutions.

    It seems only American academics view this as a problem.

    Personally I don't see what the problem is. I went to the school in my country which houses the top Solar physics research group (publication and impact-factor wise, and the folks are a lovely bunch). Why should I have to go elsewhere if I wanted to do a PhD in this field?
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  8. May 8, 2013 #7
    The short answer is "yes, it does look bad." However, a few comments:

    The perception is there, but it seems as though it varies from school to school and field to field. Of course, counter-examples exist: Jordan Ellenberg. Dr. Ellenberg is a professor of mathematics at UWisc-Madison, widely and consistently considered one of the top mathematics schools for both undergrad and graduate studies. He obtained both his B.A. and his PhD from Harvard. Now, you might say, "Well, of course, that's Harvard!" but the complain about academic incest has been, from what I've seen, largely unconcerned with the quality of the institution and far more concerned with the relative lack of exposure a candidate with a single-institution education supposedly has.

    I'm not sure if there is a stigma attached to single-institution education outside of academia.
  9. May 8, 2013 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I know quite a few people who have both BS and PhD degrees from MIT - they all went straight through without leaving, too. So it might happen more than you think. I also did PhD and undergrad at the same school (NOT MIT). It hasn't seemed to hurt me yet. When I interview a candidate with a PhD from MIT I do NOT hold it against them if they also did undergrad there! I must say that I am in industry, though, as are the MIT folks I know. I do not know how academia views this in general. Most PhD's do not end up in academia, of course.

  10. May 8, 2013 #9
    My reason for asking the original question: I am pursuing my B.S. in physics at Indiana University South Bend. Indiana University, the main campus about 3 hours away from where I live, supposedly has a great astronomy program. I was just thinking that if it's a good program and it wouldn't look bad then heck, why not! It would definitely be convenient. Regardless, I still have lots of time to think about grad schools.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook