I am applying for US PhD's this December. I have a BS in mechanical engineering and an MS in artificial intelligence. The common advice is to mention advisors you would like to work for in the statement of purpose. However, I have a question of whether those advisors necessarily have to be in the department I am applying to. My background is in mechanical engineering, so I am planning on applying to the mechanical engineering department. However, my desired field of research, robotics, is very interdisciplinary, with many robotics researchers commonly being in the computer science department. Is it ok to mention those potential advisors in my statement of purpose, or should I stick to only the faculty in the department I am applying to?

  • What country will you be applying in? What degrees do you already hold?
    – Buffy
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:39
  • @Buffy I am applying in the US. I have a BS in mechanical engineering and an MS in artificial intelligence. I'm not sure if I meet the course requirements for entrance to most computer science departments.
    – tonyd629
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


Note that the US is pretty "lenient" about changing field for graduate study. Most students start the program with only a bachelors so there is a lot of potential to pick up some advanced topics along the way.

Also, it isn't really necessary to name a potential advisor at all as they probably aren't the one responsible for your admission. (The exception is when they "hire" you into their lab, which is more of an European concept.) But it won't do any harm to note that you have some knowledge of the research of several people, even if in different departments. This is especially true for interdisciplinary work.

Just make sure that your SoP focuses on your hoped for research direction and, if interdisciplinary, then that you express some knowledge of what that entails. Keep it forward looking and mention career goals as well as educational ones.

But you don't have to tag them as possible advisors, so much as people from whom you hope to learn from and gain advice. The advisor choice will come once you meet a few people and they meet you.

Also see: How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in Country X?

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