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Dear academic community ,

I am currently enrolled in a PhD program in the discipline of Sociolinguistics. Even though I like my topic of research and I am doing quite well, I cannot get over the fact that the discipline that I am really passionate about is History. I wrote my Master's Thesis in History and ended with an excellent grade. However, I could not get a funded PhD position.

It is not that I don't like my current field, I do like it, but I took the possition mostly because it was fully funded and it seemed like a very good opportunity, also taking this position saved me from being deported from Germany as I am a non EU citizen and my visa was about to expire. When I am working on my project, I enjoy it, but cannot help but thinking that I would have been happier if I was researching something that I am truly passionate about. That's why I was wondering if it would make sense to pursue the PhD in History when I get this first doctoral degree. Would that make sense? Would I be even admitted to another program? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

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    Possible duplicate: is doing two PhDs a good path?. See also: Why is having multiple PhDs frowned upon?
    – cag51
    Aug 26 at 13:09
  • You don't say anything about long term goals. Is it just that you are comfortable being a student? Three doctorates? Twenty? Regret for what might have been is common, of course.
    – Buffy
    Aug 26 at 13:09
  • I'd like to certainly pursue an academic career and if possible conduct research in the field of History rather than in Sociolinguistics. Aug 26 at 13:10
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    Then why bother to complete the current degree? You are just putting off your future. Find a different program, perhaps in a different place.
    – Buffy
    Aug 26 at 13:15
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Let me suggest, pretty strongly, that if it is history that you see as your future, then find a way to study history. Perhaps you can do this with a local change, but it might require a move.

If you are very close to finishing the current degree (writing the dissertation) then I'd suggest differently and you just get it done. You can then evaluate your best path forward, whatever the field.

The purpose of a doctorate is to give you some guided practice in research in some narrow area of some field. The process of research between (some) fields is narrow enough that you don't need to go through the entire process again.

My doctorate is in math, but I switched to CS due to a poor market for mathematicians. I didn't require a different degree, but I did get some formal instruction, in a summer program run by some top people in CS. What I needed was the background, not the research process, even though CS can differ quite a lot from math.

The trick for the second option is to get a suitable job, in whichever field and to get some "space" to refocus your career.

But I doubt that a second doctorate would be the short path and suggest your efforts would be better spent elswhere. Even collaboration with historians by a linguist might be an option to get some papers done and build a reputation.

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  • +1. I would just add to make sure you do a realistic assessment of what your options will be post-PhD. As far as I know, the demand for historians and socio-linguists is not exactly high, so I would want to seriously consider my options before pursuing formal studies in either field (let alone both).
    – cag51
    Aug 26 at 15:55

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