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At this point, I understand I have posted on this website a fair amount. This time, my post will take a step back from discussing my other difficulties to something that will be sadly relevant in the near future. Long story short, I am a fourth year Ph.D student in Experimental Psychology who was admitted back in Fall 2020 with a Master's (also Experimental Psychology). The university specifically wanted more students in each of its Psychology Ph.D programs (clinical, experimental, I/O, and school) pre COVID. 9 months ago, there were rumors that funding cuts for graduate students would eventually hit 0. Recently, after I overheard a meeting where faculty thought me and the other students were out of earshot (and no, I did not go out of my way to eavesdrop), its finally here.

It turns out that the reason this happened as fast as it did was twofold. The first reason was that the clinical program did not take any students in the recent two years. This year it was a faculty made decision due to uncertainty regarding funding in the coming years. Two years ago, students who were accepted also did not enroll on purpose because there was no first year funding.

The second was that my university was awarded $60k in grant money that was meant to go towards the graduate students. However, that money was somehow lost entirely by the university (not my department).

Here is why I am making this post now. I am slated to graduate this academic year and this news will become public come November 30th. However, what are the possible consequences of this action before I defend sometime in early 2024 (expected since I am 1/4 through my data collection at the moment and have 20 research assistants I am about to train and recruit)? One of my external committee members is a clinical faculty and is a full professor (all of my other ones are full professors too). Some in my department (Experimental) already left due to the first year funding cuts. What else could happen that may affect my progress in a capricious manner?

In case anyone is wondering where, all I will say is that it is a university in the mid Michigan area that had a lot of great faculty. All four of the Ph.D programs were the reason it went from an R3 to an R2 in the first place.

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    That is very open ended question. What are we supposed to answer? A list of all the bad things that could happen? That would be a very very long list, and most of these possible disasters will not happen. Oct 7, 2023 at 7:11
  • Do the funding cuts affect you (near to graduating), or just people who were hoping to start courses?
    – toby544
    Oct 7, 2023 at 8:58
  • @toby544 It looks like the funding cuts are fling to affect everyone in the clinical program, which includes those who were going to start courses.
    – zzmondo1
    Oct 8, 2023 at 7:45
  • @MaartenBuis I know it is. However, I'm looking at realistic stuff like professors leaving (and when that could happen).
    – zzmondo1
    Oct 8, 2023 at 8:07
  • A halfway decent university will try to do their best to allow students who are now enrolled to be able to finish. But a decline in quality is inevitable when a program is in the process of shutting down. Good professors may leave, and who wants to invest time and effort in a program that is about to close down? So finish a.s.a.p. and get out of that department. Oct 8, 2023 at 9:38

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I suspect that you will be fine since you are about to finish. Talk to your advisor to gain assurance that your funding will continue this academic year. The faculty has a vested professional interest in making sure that people already committed to the degree can have a safe and happy completion.

Even if money is cut it will most affect incoming students who will find no open slots. It might also affect RA funding, especially if those aren't also doctoral students, so you might have to scramble a bit. Try to develop a proactive plan to deal with fewer RAs.

Your advisor can probably give you the best information, but, again, the faculty will have an incentive to assure that advanced students finish. The university as a whole does also. Dumping students isn't a good public relations move.

You also have, perhaps, an opportunity to do something with someone on your external committee in the worst case.

I also hope you are looking for the next job at this point. If not, then it is time to start.

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