I have a question for a situation, but I'll try to keep it brief. Couldn't find any similar questions, but I'm not sure how to phrase the search either.

I graduated with my MS in Jan. 2014, just around a year ago. At the time, I was trying to relocate to a different city for personal reasons. One of the places I applied for a job was a University in the city I wanted to live in, call it 'City X'. I did NOT get that job, but it came down to me and another candidate so I was close. I ended up taking a position in the same place as the MS program, thinking I would work for a year (or so) and then try to relocate after finding another opportunity in city X.

Now, I have been thinking of obtaining my PhD and the same University in City X above offers it, so I applied about two months ago. I would LOVE to go to this school and get a PhD with this University. Based on past years, I expect the admission decision should come out in the next few weeks. I only applied to this school, given my relocation needs. I feel as though it is a coin flip whether I am admitted (longer odds than I would like personally).

Here's the dilemma though. Another research-related position (job) opened with the same University. This job would be great too! I should also mention that the person looking for the new hire might also be sitting on the Admissions Committee. My question is this: will applying for this job hurt my chances at being admitted to the PhD program (or vice-versa)? I don't want to risk ticking someone off and not getting either position. Is this an actual risk or am I being paranoid? I just want to keep my options open.

Given both offers, I would take the position in the PhD program, as it is a long-term goal of mine. Part of me thinks that I should wait for the decision from the PhD and then apply to the job. The job was just posted today, so I could get results from the Admissions Committee before the job search is over...theoretically. The other part of me thinks I should just apply and see what happens.

  • Do you know any professor at that university who you might be able to ask this question informally and privately, and feel out the culture?
    – D.W.
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:06
  • @D.W. Previously, I've exchanged emails with a professor after interviewing. I do think reaching out and asking privately is a good next step. Thanks! Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


First of all, apply for both. It is the best for you to be open to all the options.

However, if both applications goes through, I would recommend to choose the job; simply because you probably will get paid better on the top of learning about the research without the clock ticking. Also, you become a staff and not a student; and you will be treated more professionally.

You can always switch to the Ph.D. after working for sometime, knowing exactly what you want to work on; based on your research-based work experience.

  • 2
    (1) It's not at all clear that dual-applying to different positions is allowed or seen as okay. Certainly there are universities that only allow one to apply to a single department for a PhD, despite the departments being very independent. (2) Anyone who can get into a grad school can get some sort of job; whether or not this is better depends on the individual's long-term goals. Blanket statements to the effect of jobs being always better are dangerous.
    – user4512
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 22:09
  • 2
    (3) Some students are treated very professionally, while some employees are not. (4) It is not all all guaranteed that one can just switch into a PhD at any time. One always is competing against that year's other applicants.
    – user4512
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 22:10

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