Would it make a negative impact on my PhD application if they get to know that I am already enrolled in PhD and now applying for another program in their University?

  • 2
    Short answer is yes. We do not usually accept transferring students readily. This usually indicates that a student is weak. There are of course, exceptions. Oct 31, 2019 at 20:21
  • I was an exception.
    – JeffE
    Nov 1, 2019 at 21:11
  • @Prof.SantaClaus not always. There are A-hole PhD advisors and many good students could fall prey to them. Smart ones are more likely to transfer out or change the field without loosing a chunk of their life. Example of A-hole advisor: there was a PI in my department who used to publish all papers from his lab as a first author and the department had a minimum of 2 papers requirement to graduate. Two of the students from his lab got out only after eight years and the department had to waive the requirements for them. I know many advisors being charged with racial descrimination/Title IX..
    – MAPK
    Nov 2, 2019 at 0:53

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can apply, just as anyone else. But yes, it is possible that people in your current program would take it as a negative. And, yes again, that the other university or program might rank you a bit lower if you already have a "suitable" position in a doctoral program. But I doubt that the last would be a large factor in most cases.

But there are a lot of reasons to switch. Some of them are very important. If you have a serious need to switch, either for personal or academic reasons, don't hesitate to explore your options and follow up on good ones. This is especially true if you don't think you have a good path to success where you are now.

People understand that others change their minds and their directions. They understand the need to move locations and situations. They understand that some qualified students are in a bad situation.


Not really. There are people doing more than 2 degrees at the same time. That is relatively common for people that want to end up at the same time with extra certifications and there are universities that offer a discount on the second degree's payments. However, it is understood such is extremely demanding.

If what you are planning is a switch on PHD and you care what others may think, then there shouldn't be a problem either, but I advise you to say (and only if you are asked) exactly that, that you wish to pursue 2 PHD's simultaneously, and then, when you are on the other you can say that it was indeed too demanding and need to drop 1 to be able to finish the other. Otherwise, you are the paying client of the university (most PHD's around the world are paid for by the student and only so few are by scholarships), so if you want to switch then there shouldn't be a problem. And in the rare case its not a paid PHD (whihc can be the case for some european PHD's) , then just check your universities regulations to see if there is any type of penalty.

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