I am currently a Ph.D. student of business at University X. Although my professor is great and well-known in the field, their offer was explodable and I had no time to think about it and wait for my other results (because of my situation and some personal pressure I accepted it), also the rank and placements of the university are not that good, so I was not sure about University X from the first moment. Also, I am not happy in this city at all and it is affecting my performance. I want to know my options, Can I transfer to a better university and city? or Should I drop this program and reapply? Do I have to pay back my tuition (I know that I do not have to pay back my stipend) if I quit this program? Also, I am kind of worry about the reaction of my professor and the university. I deeply appreeciate it if you help me.

1 Answer 1


Regarding a PhD: Generally speaking, it is common for people to realize that the chosen PhD is not the right one for them after they worked on it for a while. You should reflect and be sure about why you want to change your PhD.
It could be a phase; any PhD will test your endurance and persistence to finish it. A lot of my co-PhDs were really frustrated during the PhD and some wanted to quit. Some didn't and were happy that they hadn't. Some others did and were happy with their decision too.
I only know one person who quit their PhD and started another one at another Uni. However, that person didn't finish the second either and dropped out in the end.

Regarding Uni and Ranking: Ranking/Prestigiousness is not everything. Your supervisor is more important. I did my PhD in a field, where the world-leading scientist(s) is/are in Belgium. He is far more influential than his counterpart at Harvard/MIT. If you did a PhD under him, you have a guaranteed assistant professorship (or at the very least countless post-doc offers) job afterward.

Regarding changing: Commonly, you cannot take your research and move to another Uni and finish it there. I doubt it is possible, but there might be some odd cases where it was done. So, I believe that you would need to reapply for a new PhD.

Regarding Tuition: That depends on your founding body/contract, and I advise you to read it yourself and, when in doubt, look for legal advice. Some Unis have student unions that help with that. FYI: In the Uk, for instance, you don't need to pay anything back.

Regarding supervisor: Talk to him and be honest, that you are not happy, and you want to move somewhere else. They are professionals and won't hold a grudge against you. Just be sure you pay attention to how you deliver it.

  • Thank you so much for your time and answer. Since The first two years of the program are mostly studying and passing some courses, I have not delved into my research yet, and I am open to changing my research direction toward other university faculty members that have mainly common interests with me.
    – m sh
    Mar 30, 2023 at 16:04

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