I am an upcoming Ph.D. student at some university in US. But I am thinking about reapplying due to the following reasons:

  1. A recent project I am doing made me realize that the topic I was working in that project is the one I am truly interested in. However, as I checked my program’s website, no one in my upcoming program is working on that sub field.

  2. The project also made me realize I have more potential and am capable of going to a better program. I was almost certain a with much better background this year, I am able to get into the next level school with high chance. So this might be another reason I wanna reapply.

Now that I haven’t officially started the program yet,

  • I am wondering if there is anything more I can do apart from telling them I wanna reapply after the program starts.
  • Should I go talk with them about it now or should I wait?

If I talk with them now, will this damage my reputation and they might tell other schools about it?

  • 1
    I have rarely encountered a project that I was unable to be interested in. Just saying...
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 14, 2023 at 12:52

2 Answers 2


You can simply say that you are not interested in pursuing their PhD program anymore, and don't have to give an answer to "why not?". It does happen, since students often shop around in numerous programs. Even if you committed to a program, you can still pull out, and probably say "I regret to inform you that I cannot pursue the program due the family issues." Recall, many of the best candidates often pull out, and each program knows that there's a good chance another program wants them and may offer a better stipend/salary/benefits package. Thus, good candidates also carry a high risk not committing.


Being proactive and having the conversation now will serve you better in the long run. I did a similar thing recently and decided to apply to another program that was advertising for PhD students at a different university than where I am now for my masters/PhD. I think it's best to go where you're best supported and you will learn the most from your faculty/peers.

I was advised by my masters advisor that I should in fact look at other universities.

  • But if I talk with them, will they let another university know?
    – Anonymous
    Jun 14, 2023 at 15:11

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