I plan to re-apply for a PhD in the US next year, but meanwhile, I decided to enroll in a PhD in my home country I read the similar post: Is it a good idea to stay an extra year at my masters institution while re-applying to PhD programs elsewhere?

However, I am wondering whether you should admit/declare (in your application), that you are currently enrolled in a PhD program or it is better to hide this information from the US universities? Thanks!

  • 8
    Why hide it ? there's no shame in doing a transfer ?
    – Suresh
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 8:34
  • 4
    Follow the golden rule (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule), if you think the US university would want to know this, tell them. Likewise you ought to tell your current supervisor that you are applying for a place elsewhere. Speaking as someone that had put time and effort into supervising a student that then left for a place at another university without telling me until afterwards, honesty is generally appreciated. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 9:37

2 Answers 2


I answered a similar question here: No, you absolutely must not hide it.

The application will request your complete educational history, with official grades and records from each institution. At the end, you will be asked to sign a statement that everything is true and complete.

Submitting an application that is false or has significant omissions is considered completely unethical. It's very likely that the institution where you're applying will eventually find out, and there can be extremely serious consequences.

If they find out while reviewing your application, they'll reject it immediately, even if you would otherwise have been accepted.

If they accept you into the program and then find out while you're enrolled, they may kick you out of the program, even if you're doing well. With a record of dishonesty, you will probably not get into another one.

If you enroll in the program and finish your PhD, and they find out about the false application years later, they can revoke your degree. You will almost certainly be fired from whatever job you have at that time, and you will not work in academia again.

So you really do need to include your current institution in your application. You'll probably also need a letter of recommendation from someone at your current institution.

  • I think I am in a similar situation here. I am really not satisfied with my current PhD and I am thinking to apply for another one. Is it OK not telling my current supervisor about this? I mean like both ethically and legally.
    – Anoroah
    Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 2:49
  • @imoutidi: That's actually a rather different question. I suggest that you post it as a new question. Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 4:40

No, you should not hide it.

Consider the alternative scenarios:

  • Unbeknownst to you, the supervisors know each other and find out that you are re-applying without informing either. This may leave you known as dishonest and cause lasting damage to your reputation.
  • The supervisors do not know each other, and you do get the new position. Your old supervisor will naturally find out that you leave, and likely be annoyed (he/she will hopefully have invested time in you). As for your new supervisor... are you going to keep it a secret forever? Is the previous place so bad you would rather have a gap in your CV? I hardly think so. Eventually, your new supervisor will find out — which may again be detrimental to your reputation, because if you suddenly leave place A for place B, who knows if you may leave place B for yet another place, again unannounced? If I were a supervisor, I would be reluctant to invest resources (time, effort, money) in someone I'm not sure would live up to commitments.

The only exception one might think of is if your old place is so bad that the association would actively damage your chances. But as a PhD student, I think that's very unlikely. In fact, if you were at a bad place but realised it soon enough to change, that could be interpreted positively and the bad reputation of a former supervisor need not reflect badly upon you.

So, no, in my opinion you should not hide that you are already enrolled elsewhere, ever.

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