I am considering doing a PhD in a great lab/with a great advisor (and already convinced the PI). But I got in another program rather than the supposed program with the name of my subject of study, e.g. EE/chemical physics vs physics. I was worried as a rookie whether this degree would put me in an inferior position in the future competition. Regarding the circumstances in academic positions or industrial ones, how much does the degree name affect job hunting?

  • 2
    Which country is this about? Apr 30, 2019 at 11:02
  • we cannot predict job market future here but I predict your question soon to be closed if you don't rephrase it in a clear way. You can become chemistry professor with a PhD in phyiscs, much more unlikely the other way around or with a engineering PhD degree as you lack theoretical/experimental background. There are reasons why in Germany only distinct faculty can award a Dr. Ing or Dr. rer. nat. Not sure about US... Apr 30, 2019 at 11:08
  • This is mainly about the US (and possibly China). I understand that you must get the corresponding training to be qualified as faculty. And I am going to be working in a pure physics lab and will definitely get the corresponding training. The problem is only that the degree name isn't physics.
    – Jason Tao
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:18
  • @user847982 Sorry that this question needs clarification. I think what's going to happen is I will receive training as a physicist, working as a physicist and my advisor is in the physics department. Only my ultimate degree will have another name. Will that cause people to put discrimination on my job application?
    – Jason Tao
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:27
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    Possible duplicate of Just how important is university prestige when completing PhD? for the title question. There are also other questions about "can I get a degree in X but move forward in Y."
    – cag51
    May 1, 2019 at 12:01

1 Answer 1


In many cases it would matter only a little if at all. Many job offerings call for a degree in "X or a closely related field". Physics and Hungarian Literature probably don't qualify, of course.

But in any case your application for a job consists of more than just your list of degrees. You have a chance to tailor your materials to the job at hand and so can say (must say) why you are appropriate for the job.

However, there are exceptions. Some countries, notably Germany, have laws relating to the required degree for a job. Some professions, notably medicine, have expectations that are rarely ignored.

  • Thank you. That more or less provides some relief... I'm doing this degree in the US. I understand that academic positions should hire people according to their publication lists rather than their names. But is there really little resistance on this issue? And as you both mentioned Germany, do they have regulations like a physics professor must have a degree in pure physics? In fact I was deciding between going with a really good institution that offers another degree and a slightly weaker institution that offers a pure physics admission. I have chosen the first one.
    – Jason Tao
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:36
  • I'm not familiar with all the rules in Germany, but I think they are pretty strict that you don't call yourself an engineer unless you have certain certifications. Some states in the US also have such rules, actually.
    – Buffy
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:44

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