I have offers for a funded PhD at equally prestigious universities in the same country. One is the university I did my undergrad (and doing my masters) in, with a "rising star" PhD supervisor that is very well known in my (small) subfield. The supervisor at the other (new) university is more senior, known in the field but not extremely popular. In academic terms, it is clear that I should stay at my current university. However, I have heard many times the advice that it is good to change university for personal and academic development. From a personal point of view, I would feel excited to move university (and city). I am aiming at an academic career and so I feel that it would be too risky not to take the top supervisor at my current university (since this would give me stronger LORs and connections). I have asked PhD students who know the advisors, and they all strongly encouraged me to take the one at my current university. They didn't do their undergrad there, however, so they didn't have the experience I would have of being 8 years in the same city and university... My questions are:

  • Should I stay at my current university with the top supervisor?
  • If so, how to mitigate the negative effects of remaining in the same city and school?

Thanks a lot!

  • Ask former students who completed their PhDs with these supervisors. They have informed opinions. We do not. Be sure you have a feasible backup plan for your career. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 12 at 9:21
  • @AnonymousPhysicist Thanks. I have added a reply to your first point in my question. (Of course, I have a feasible backup plan.) – mmm Mar 12 at 11:56
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    From a professional/academic perspective, there is no need to move for your Ph.D. To stay is common if you happen to do your undergrad at a great university. What you probably have heard and confused this with is that, ideally, you switch university after your Ph.D. for your postdoc/professorship (to avoid the perception of nepotism, etc.), but even that isn’t a rule set in stone. – gnometorule Mar 12 at 12:36
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    Actually, @gnometorule and others, there is value in changing universities as it gives you access to a wider variety of faculty and, hence, to a wider variety of ideas and approaches to research. It also helps you build a wider circle of contacts if you are attentive to that. But I've voted to close as too personal to have a good answer. The relative "weighting" of the possible supervisors is a subjective and personal thing. – Buffy Mar 12 at 13:45
  • @gnometorule Thanks. My field is not pure mathematics, but I was referring to things like this terrytao.wordpress.com/career-advice/study-at-different-places which applies to both transitions from undergrad to PhD and from PhD to postdoc – mmm Mar 12 at 14:31

A PhD starts a career, it doesn't define it.

There are benefits to moving, there are benefits to staying. Benefits aren't limited to now. You can seek those benefits later.

Move at some point in your career, not necessarily now.

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