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Programs Getting two PhD in SAME subfield

  1. Aug 22, 2012 #1
    After getting a PhD in high energy theoretical physics at one institution, could you apply and go to another institution (perhaps with higher prestige) for a second PhD in theoretical physics? Or is this technically disallowed?

    I suppose this will infuriate your first PhD advisor, and would probably not write a letter of recommendation for you. Any other problems?

    The reason I am asking this is because
    1. My portfolio of published papers is not at all indicative of my interests.
    2. I would like more time to learn, which I think is implicitly discouraged as a post-doc.
    3. I am at a 2nd class institution, and would like to obtain a PhD from a top-tier institution to improve chances at getting tenure-track.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2012 #2
    I doubt any institution would admit you for a Ph.d. in the same field. There's no point.

    As far as 3), if your institution isn't "top-tier", then you are better off focusing your efforts at doing what you can to make your institution "top-tier".
  4. Aug 23, 2012 #3
    1. It is possible to change your research area as a postdoc. List on your statement of research interests what your true interests are (as well as the areas you have experience), and try to find postdoc positions with some overlap (or at institutions which also do work in the area you are interested in). While it can vary from group to group and position to position, typically you branch out more as a postdoc than you did as a PhD student.

    2. Why would you think that?

    3. I imagine having two closely related PhD's on your CV would be a net negative.
  5. Aug 23, 2012 #4


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    I would agree with the others. I don't think any institution will admit you for a "do-over" Ph.D. instead of some other qualified candidate without a degree. I guess you could technically withdraw from your current Ph.D. program without getting your degree and re-enroll in a Ph.D. program at another university, but I wouldn't recommend it. If you were to transfer it's likely to be a big red flag to future employers.

    I think it would be best that you try to find a post-doc more in line with your interests. I had a professor in undergrad who got a Ph.D. in chemical physics and switched to biological physics as a postdoc. I think that's a much more sensible route than spending another 6 years to get a degree you already have. Nobody will fault you for switching fields during a postdoc or two, but they will be skeptical of you getting a second Ph.D., especially one close to (or the same as) your original field.

    There was another thread (here) a while ago about a guy who was thinking about getting a second Ph.D. The response to his thread was not positive. If you find that your reasons for doing a second Ph.D. are similar to this guy's, it's a sign that getting a second Ph.D. is not a good course of action for you.
  6. Aug 23, 2012 #5

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    It's very, very rare to get two PhD's. The only case I know of is where the first PhD was in a country with a different system and a PhD was not the terminal degree.

    But more importantly, people don't get faculty jobs based on where they got their PhD's. They get faculty jobs based on what they have done since they got their PhDs.
  7. Aug 23, 2012 #6
    I could understand getting another PhD if it was in another field, but the same exact thing??

    Waste of time.

    Also don't be a slave to the rankings, you don't need to go to MIT or Caltech to be a great physicist.

    Focus on your own research, and things that actually interest you.
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