I am a second-year Master student and will finish in 2022. Next fall, I am going to start a PhD in physics at my current university. The research topic will be the same as well as the supervisor. I like this topic and find it prospective. My supervisor is fantastic, and I like him as a human and professor.

However, I feel like I can get a better future if I finish PhD abroad (e.g. Europe or the USA). But I don't want to change topics. Honestly, I want to settle down in a foreign country, and PhD seems a good step. I should mention that I want to stay in academia, do research and become a professor one day. But scientific degrees obtained in my home country are not commonly accepted and regarded in other countries. I intend to reapply to foreign universities while being a first-year PhD student.

Moreover, I think that an additional year of research will benefit me in terms of experience and publications.

Another decision is to go to the industry for a year and then reapply for a PhD. The problem is to get a position in the industry and not stick too much to money. The latter will be a downside of getting out of the industry.

I should indeed talk to my current supervisor and ask him for a piece of advice. I am afraid that this conversation will not be pleasant for both of us. I don't want to burn bridges either. What reaction should I expect from him?

Is it morally OK to reapply to other PhD programmes while being a PhD student? Will admission offices (and professors) be sceptical about my application? What is better:

  1. Finish PhD in my home country and then do my best to get a postdoc position abroad
  2. Reapply to PhD abroad while being enrolled in another PhD
  3. Go to industry and apply to PhD after several years
  • 1
    The third option seems the worst. It can be hard to return for lots of reasons. Especially after "several" years.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:40

1 Answer 1


I cannot tell you which of your options is better, that is for you to decide. However, the second option is one I would definitely not recommend. You talk about burning bridges, well this would be one way to burn them.

You should talk to your advisor. Be open about your ambitions, it is only fair to them and to you. You respect him as a human and a professor, so don't 'use' him for one year and then leave. If you are honest it will not be an uncomfortable talk, since he doesn't want a demotivated PhD student. They can offer advice and help you more with your options, they can talk about possible exchange programs. After this discussion, you can decide which options is the best for you.

  • Actually, I think the second option is fine, but it depends on the field, perhaps. Do others depend on your staying? If not, what is the harm of leaving?
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 20:47
  • The missing option is applying to foreign PhD programs now, and leaving their current program with a Masters in 2022 as planned. I'm not sure where the 'extra' year comes from.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 20:59
  • 1
    @Buffy If feels (to me) not very ethical to start a PhD when you already know you want to quit after one year. I believe the first year is not the most productive year, so in that sense I think it is not really fair to an advisor.
    – Jeroen
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:06
  • @JonCuster Yeah that's a fair point, not sure why it's necessary. Perhaps they don't deem it possible get everything arranged before that time?
    – Jeroen
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:07

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