I'm an undergraduate student about to apply for a Ph.D program this year. I am interested in knowing whether seeking co-advising from a related, but different department (in my case I'm applying for econometrics but thinking about looking for co-advising from the statistics department) is seen as a thing to be encouraged in graduate schools in the U.S., or is it considered a violation of the division of departments?

Also, would it make sense if I mention in my personal statement that one of the consideration of my applying for this school's economics department is that it also has a very good statistics department, from which I can potentially seek co-advising? Would the graduate admission committee be happy to see this kind of statements?


It is perfectly okay to have a co-adviser from another department. Econometrics and statistics are very close areas and often students pursuing PhD in Economics and Industrial Engineering (such as Reliability Analysis) have co-advisers from Statistics.

Often acceptance of an applicant in the program differs from department to department. However, you may mention an intention for collaborating with statistics department in the research statement. Also, if you do things appropriately you may have scope to get into the statistics department as a PhD student and pursue your research in light of economics. In other words, you may have greater chance of getting into the university as a PhD student. You may have to inquire about the possibility with the Statistics department. I guess you have good background in both statistics and economics so this seems to work out for you.


Cooperation is normally considered a desirable trait in academia these days, and collaborations between colleagues is generally a good thing. So, there is some advantage to working with multiple people.

The challenge, however, in such situations, as in many others in academia, comes down to the problem of funding. Unless you're able to provide your own, in the form of an external fellowship, it may be difficult to convince an advisor in your "home" department to "share" you with an advisor in another department, unless the other advisor is willing to pick up part of the funding. Normally, this requires that the two advisors have already thought about and worked toward a collaborative effort.

On the other hand, it may be substantially easier (and in some departments, required) to obtain someone from outside the department to sit on your thesis committee. While these people are not formally your advisors, they are resources to draw on, and may satisfy your concerns about level of involvement, depending on how active you want the co-advisor to be.

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