Recently, I have completed my PhD in Biomedical Engineering from a 25 - 30th ranked USA university and got a Post-doc offer from a 9-12th ranked USA University. To keep me, my PhD advisor offered me a non-tenured tracked Research assistant professor (RSP) position with 1.5 times of offered Post-doc salary. I will be funded through my advisor grant and need to conduct research related to the funded project. However, I will also have the independence to pursue my research interest and apply for external funding. I have a very good relationship with my PhD advisor and good publications in my PhD. Eventually, I want to get a tenure-tracked faculty position. What is best for me “stay in my current university as an RSP ” or “ get the post-doc position in the more reputed university”?

  • 1
    How are they different except in name?
    – Buffy
    Jun 28, 2019 at 11:41
  • 5
    Go somewhere else. Do something at least slightly different. Explore new areas. Show that you can grow and take on new problems.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 28, 2019 at 16:53
  • Don't compare their university ranks, compare their Biomedical Engineering rank. I think the chances are high that you won't feel it well on the 9-12th ranked University.
    – peterh
    Oct 16, 2020 at 9:01

4 Answers 4


I think you need to think about what that post-doc position can really offer you. Going from a 25th-30th University to a 9th-12th University isn't that significant, since the precision of ranking schools is iffy, at best. Therefore, think about what opportunities the post-doc will offer you: exciting research? Connections/contacts? Does the PI have a solid track record of post-docs getting tenure-track positions? On the other hand, being a non-tenure track research professor may be the better option if you think you can get enough data to apply for a grant. The bump in income is nice, too, especially given the high cost of education in the USA. I'm guessing you probably don't have student loans from grad school, but what about undergrad?

tl;dr- Post-doc:may lead to tenure-track job, possibly better contacts? Research asst prof: may lead to tenure-track job, but with better interim salary.


Similar to above answers, what do you really want from a post-doc? It should be a learning experience to get to a more senior academic position. University rankings is not everything (though I know the US thinks strongly of this). I think it is also important to consider the lab, what they offer, or their reputation. Many top famous professors do not work in the absolute top universities.

Your current advisor is offering you quite a good opportunity with high independence and applications to funding, both important and good to show you can do if applying for a higher position in future. This is in addition to the benefits you mention of higher salary and good relationship.

I would only consider moving if you think the new lab can offer you ideas intellectually that may allow you to develop something you are interested in, in future.

PS - on a personal note, I declined a position at MIT for a global top 40 university, as I was interested in the professor, rather than the institution. So my suggestion is partially based on my own experience.



  • Scientifically you will advance more if you change the lab (also grant proposal reviewers, hiring panels etc will pick on this if you don't change lab after PhD)
  • Position-wise it might be better if you stay with your former supervisor (if he is influential and might be able to get you a tenure-track position at the same department eventually)
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    "(if he is influential and might be able to get you a tenure-track position at the same department eventually)" -> If the advisor is that influential, they would also be able to furnish OP with a tenure-track position if he decides to change labs after the PhD. In fact, the stay at the other place would equip them with an additional argument. Jul 4, 2019 at 9:41

All I can say is it is not easy to meet a mentor who has both the faith in OP, the project that led to a successful bargaining position of OP and capacity to offer what he/she did for OP. I know the publication proves the capacity, but next lab performance... past is no reference point, based on my experience.

  • Not sure I follow. You are saying that the RSP job is the better choice because their advisor is great and things might not go so well in a different lab?
    – cag51
    Oct 16, 2020 at 16:03

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