I'm currently a college junior and looking to apply to grad school for CS in the fall. I'm currently choosing a thesis advisor for next year but would love some advice.

One of my options is a HCI professor who I've been working with since freshman year, but she'll be on sabbatical next year. She said she'd be willing to advise me, but I don't want to give her extra work while she's taking time off.

Another option is a professor who I haven't worked with before w/ a different research area (more systems focused), but I've heard really great things about her from other students. She also said she'd be happy to work with me, and I'm pretty interested in branching out/trying new things.

In terms of applying for grad school, will it strengthen my application to have worked with the same professor all throughout undergrad? Or is it good to show some variety of experiences? I'm having trouble because I'm also not sure which area of CS I want to pursue in the future, but it'll probably be something at the intersection of HCI and AI like Human-AI interaction or intelligence augmentation.

Any general tips/advice on how to handle this situation would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  • 4
    A sabbatical isn't usually time off from work. It's time off from teaching, so a professor can focus on research and possibly travel to visit collaborators for a longer period than normally possible. So, if this professor is willing to supervise you during that time, don't be concerned that you're infringing on her holiday. May 2, 2021 at 6:20
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    I agree with the comment of @astronat. I can‘t give any clear advice on what you shold do, however, it won‘t be to your disadvantage to work with the same professor you worked with for a longer period of time now. Especially when searching for a thesis advisor, it is good to know what you are getting into (in my opinion).
    – pbaer
    May 2, 2021 at 7:12

2 Answers 2


There is hardly any basis here for a distinction. Both are good. Both are willing to work with you. Both will provide a valuable experience.

You could just "flip a coin", actually, and reach a good outcome.

But once you decide, make a firm commitment and stick with it. Don't break contact with the other prof, however. Both can be valuable as letter writers.

Having worked, closely with more than one prof is probably more advantageous than working with only one, but it is, I think, a marginal effect.


I think you should decide between these (both good) options on the merits of the experience - the technical aspects and the mentoring possibilities. The fact that you have worked with one of the professors (a plus) but that she will be on sabbatical leave (perhaps a disadvantage) may be one factor in your decision.

I don't think you need consider any possible small effect on your eventual grad school application.

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