I am set to begin a MS/PhD in an engineering discipline at a top 5 program. I mention this because, despite the concerns I will lay out below, I am sure that I'll be able to make good connections through this department.

However, in my specific subfield the options are a bit limited. The sort of research I originally intended to focus on I would be able to conduct at this school. That being said, this field is very interdisciplinary and, after lots of preparatory literature search this summer, I am starting to feel my interests shift. I now feel that a different side of this field would probably fit me better, research for which would fall under a different department. The problem is that there is nobody who specializes in this particular concentration.

On top of this, the weirdness of starting a graduate program during a pandemic has me wondering if I would be better off deferring and possibly reapplying. My undergraduate record is pretty strong (high gpa, multiple publications, etc.) and I feel confident I would be able to get in somewhere. However, I worry that this coming admissions cycle will be brutal and if I am better off taking my current offer and trying to make it work.

Perhaps it would be best to go and, if I truly want to shift focus and cannot there, master out and reapply. To be clear, I would re-apply for a different engineering discipline.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks.

  • Tangential, but related: academia.stackexchange.com/q/110902/68109
    – GoodDeeds
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 4:02
  • Thank you for sharing this. Maybe I should discuss my concerns with a professor I have been in communication with over this summer before making any decisions. I am a little hesitant to due so though as I don't want to offend him.
    – user126867
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 4:44
  • This is about your personal preferences, and shouldn't be decided without considering what you would do during the deferral period. Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 4:44
  • Yes, that is also a difficulty here. Unfortunately I am not sure what I would do for the next year if I do not attend. I feel my options are a bit limited by the pandemic.
    – user126867
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 4:50
  • Commenting just to point out that after reading more literature your preferences might shift yet again. Go to a good department, do good work, graduate, and go on with life.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 15:33


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .