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Programs Masters at current university, and then somewhere else for PhD

  1. Nov 18, 2009 #1
    I am a senior and I want to get my PhD in mechanical engineering. Until recently I was applying to graduate school to go directly for my PhD in what I will call Topic A. This semester I began working on a project with a professor in Topic B that is completely unrelated to Topic A. I am really enjoying this new project and I am considering going to graduate school to obtain my PhD focusing on this new field. However this new topic is not only unrelated to my previous interests but it is also very new to me. I have no prior research experience in this field.

    So I am considering staying at my current university to obtain my masters and continue working on my current project and then applying to other PhD programs after I have more experience in this field. My professor has told me that if I choose to do this he will fund my masters with an RA so I can continue working on my project.

    Now, staying at my current university is really not my first choice because I am ready to go somewhere new. Also all of the other schools I have applied to are ranked much higher than my current school. (this isnt that important to me, just stating a fact). So I am wondering, if I decide I really do want to study this new field would it be better to stay at my current university for my masters and then move or would it be ok to go to another university and try to get into this new field there even though I have already sent in my applications stating I am interested in the old field? I am still interested in the old field, I am just not sure which one I want to study more.

    A few other things. If I stay at my current university to obtain my masters I think it is unlikely that I will get any publications because what I am currently working on is really more of a design and construction project than a research project. This project is brand new for the professor and will eventually be used for new research, but if I only stay for my masters I am not sure there will be much that is publishable. Would this be bad if I have a masters but no publications?

    On the plus side, some of my undergrad credits will transfer to my masters so I wont have to take as many classes.

    And this project is funded completely by NASA and I wouldnt be surprised if there were some good networking opportunities.

    So which sounds like the best option?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2009 #2
    I would read and become more informed about your two research interests before making a decision. What opportunities will they grant you? Are the two related in some way and can you combine them? It is difficult to help you without knowing what areas of research you are interested in.
    Talk to lots of people: your advisor, students and faculty at your potential Phd university, etc.
    Just so you know, if you decide not to go to the universities you applied to for now and then later change your mind, it is likely that they will reject you the second time you apply. This happened to one of my Professors.
  4. Nov 19, 2009 #3
    Really? If I got accepted now and turned them down, you don't think they would offer again one to two years later. I can see why they might not accept me the second time, but do you think that would always be the case? What if I don't get accepted now?
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