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How many faculty should a grad school have in my subfield?

  1. Sep 10, 2015 #1
    I'm looking into some grad schools (electrical engineering in the US) right now that I'll be applying to next year. My research interests are in a sub field that doesn't have researchers at many universities (as opposed to something ubiquitous like, say, control systems or signal processing), so I'm limited to those universities that have researchers in the field. Even then, some universities only have 2-3 researchers in the field. Should I set any hard cutoff regarding the number of researchers in the sub field at the university (possibly as a ratio of the number of researchers in that sub field to the number of total researchers, to account for campus population)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2015 #2


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    I don't think so. Is this 2-3 faculty, or 2-3 in the group in total? You should look at (a) the total size of the research group in the subfield (faculty to number of students and postdocs) (b) their profile. Look at the literature, see which groups are most active. A small but dynamic group is good. Too big, individual students get lost, but too small means that if someone you rely on leaves, you're in trouble.
  4. Sep 10, 2015 #3


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    In addition to what E.bar.goum said, it might pay to see if you can find out what the supervisory committees look like for current students in the field. Even if you're looking at a situation where your supervisor is the only person at that institution working in that area, he or she could have lots of connections that extend beyond the walls of the school. Grad students may have supervisory committee members that are external to the department or even the school. Those kinds of situations are generally fine. It's the lone wolf working in quasi-isolation that you need to be wary of, but such circumstances are fairly rare.
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