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I applied at two different PhD positions at universities X & Y a while back (both in EU, I prefer not to disclose identity for specific reasons, sorry).

I got into X and have been here for about 2 months, and I heard from Y a few days ago inviting me to interview with them. Y is more prestigious, and also many of my friends are there. (Note: Both positions had different starting dates, X was more of a start-earliest program, Y is for 2015 admits)

Considering I am more interested in studying at University of Y, would it be unethical for me to take up the interview with Y, after I am here for 2 months? (I am at X as a RA presently)

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No, there are no ethical issues. There is nothing unethical neither in keeping it confidential until you are officially admitted at University Y (and I think it's advisable).

The only not-so-good thing could be that if you built a relationship of trust with your current supervisor (but I suspect you haven't since it hasn't been long), this person might get disappointed to hear you leave. But generally, people understand the argument of higher reputation of the program.

Consider however, that University X might not reimburse the tuition you already paid and that you might encounter other administrative inconveniences.

  • 3
    You might not be able to transfer the courses, for instance, if University Y is really of a higher grade than University X. So that means you will have lost a year of your mid 20s to your pursuit of the greener grass. – StasK Sep 23 '14 at 2:27
  • A year and some money lost is still worth it for a better brand. With a better school comes the likelihood of a more visible advisor, better facilities, more competitive and higher quality research environment, better colleagues, better network, for a similar research output a higher likelihood of getting a better research job (reflected glory), and a higher likelihood of getting a vanilla industry or a liberal arts teaching job( because a Harvard grad always makes the hiring person look better than a XYZ State Grad). – Amatya Sep 23 '14 at 20:02
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    -1 "this person might get disappointed to hear you leave. " is rather an under-statement (having been in that position myself). It is likely that the supervisor has put significant effort into setting up the project, administration which is now entirely wasted. In addition, if this was an externally funded project, the supervisor may need to now find a replacement with less time and money now available for the project. The "golden rule" (do unto others) applies here. If you sign up for a project there ought to be some level of commitment to see it through. – Dikran Marsupial Mar 10 '15 at 15:43
  • That doesn't mean that you shouldn't move mid-project, if you are not sufficiently interested in the project, things may not turn out too well, but that doesn't mean there are no ethical issues. – Dikran Marsupial Mar 10 '15 at 15:45

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