I applied to a not-so-well-recognized university for my PhD studies. The reason behind it was that one of my undergraduate professors moved to that university for some financial benefits.

I have been working in the research proposal for almost one year, and it got accepted. The problem is that I would like to continue with my studies, but I know that if I continue in that university I would not get many academic chances, and I will be obtaining my doctoral title just for the sake of getting the certificate and nothing more. Actually I would like to move forward to other more respected university with my research proposal. By the way this is my own work and is not related to any on going project from my supervisor.

How I can tell the professor that I would like to still have the professor's help in matters of getting recommendation letters? so I can move with my project to a more well-respected university? I just do not know how to mention that I feel that my academic future will be jeopardized if I decide to stay at this university. It's not a big deal for the professor, who already has a stable academic position.

How to deal with this situation? I do not want the professor to get pissed off with me or to burn any bridges.

  • 4
    Just be honest. Mar 20, 2014 at 14:40
  • 2
    For best diplomacy ask questions. "Where would be the best places for me to...?" "Who would be able to give me recommendation letters...?" "Do you think...?" etc. Mar 20, 2014 at 15:29
  • 2
    A good advisor and mentor will want what is best for your career as well as theirs. If you're going to be unhappy sticking around, you're not going to be of much benefit to that advisor.
    – aeismail
    Mar 20, 2014 at 16:46
  • 2
    Write great publications and you'll be able to get a post-doc at a famous university.
    – gerrit
    Mar 20, 2014 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


My personal recommendation would be to say you're trying to complete your PhD with a university that specializes in your field of study/research. I would also recommend a certain level of honesty (not saying their school isn't as respected, just that you're trying to get into a school that is well known and respected for your specific pursuit.)

Most people working in education understand and respect the pursuit of knowledge, not that they aren't unhappy about losing people, but they either respect you, or they don't. Either way you must do what's best for you.

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