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Last spring I was accepted into a fairly selective master's program in the US (I'm American). I had to take a summer "refresher" class for the program, which I recently completed (~ two weeks ago). Halfway through the refresher class, I discovered a master's program at a different school (in the UK) that I am much more interested in. I hadn't considered applying to schools outside of the US, so of course I didn't notice this other program when I was originally applying to grad schools. I want to apply to this other program in the UK before I get too deep into my current program (I'm taking one class for the fall semester in my current program). My question is: does the fact that I am transferring affect my chance of acceptance into the program I am applying to?

I know I can't transfer any credits. That is fine with me. This other school is more prestigious, with much more research in my areas of interest, and would ultimately open more doors for me. I am just worried that attempting to transfer so shortly after committing to a different school will reflect poorly/decrease my chances of acceptance. How is this typically perceived in the academic world? Is there a certain way I should bring this up in my personal statement? I don't want to burn any bridges, but I want to do what's best for me. For what it's worth, one of my letters of recommendation is coming from a big name in the field (and they have close ties to the school I'm interested in).

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Note: this assumes that your current program is course-based, and that you have not made a supervision agreement for some kind of research work.

I do not think this will cause any problems, especially if you have been in your current program only for a few months. Many people drop out of study programs, both undergraduate and graduate.

There are some websites that say that changing graduate programs includes some challenges, but they mostly refer to losing credits, losing assistantship positions, etc. which you are probably already aware of.

Your target university will evaluate you mostly based on your qualifications and suitability for the program. I do not think they will see your few-month refresher course as a problem. If you have not started some supervision relationship with anyone in your old university, then probably no one at your old university will care much either.

It is good to mention a good reason for wanting to change programs in your cover letter, but I do not think you need to spend too much space on that. After all, you are telling your target university that you find them better than the old one: that is not going to bother them.

About how "the academic world" will see this... the academic world is not going to care at all. They probably will not even get to know it.

Just apply and see what happens: if they accept you, then it was definitely not a problem.

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  • Thank you! You are correct in assuming that the program is course-based and that I do not have a supervisor. I feel better about my decision now :)
    – 1two
    Oct 1 '20 at 17:27

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