My PhD is self-funded and I probably change in 2016. Can I apply for a grant now and then change my PhD later?

Does it legally or ethically force me to stay and finish the project?

Or my Prof can hire another PhD student after me to continue working on that project?


Let's put it this way: I have a self funded position and everybody including my Prof know that I'll most probably leave next year but I want to get some money as long as I'm here (before changing).

Can I apply for a for example 2-year research grant and quit after a year or it obligates me to stay and finish the project?

  • 4
    It depends on the terms of the specific grant, so you'll have to read them. Of course you can't be forced to work on the project (unless slavery is legal in your country) but if you change topics or institutions, you may or may not be able to keep the rest of the money. Jul 7, 2015 at 19:37
  • " Of course you can't be forced to work on the project"... that's exactly the question. If I apply for a grant and get it I'll have a contract to finish the project. Isn't it like that? and if so, I'll not be able to quit and leave my current university. +1 btw! Jul 8, 2015 at 1:20
  • 2
    Contracts don't work like that - what you describe would be, maybe not slavery, but at least indentured servitude. A grant contract would more likely say something like "You work on this project, and we pay you." If you stop working on it, you stop getting paid - that's all. Worst case, you might have to return some of the money you were previously paid. They're not going to throw you in jail. Jul 8, 2015 at 5:32

2 Answers 2


Of course you are not forced, nor obliged, to finish your current project.

But it might very well be that, depending on your grant conditions, you will have to pay back the grant money, fully or partially, when you do not finish the project.

Furthermore, it might be wise to try to keep being on good terms with your current professor and colleagues. This is most likely achieved by involving them in your decision and motivations (which you might already be doing, as you write in your question).


You are self funded, so you have no employment contract. You can quit at any time. However, this might not look so good on your CV. You should try and avoid burning bridges with your current supervisor, since a good reference from them would be beneficial.

  • 1
    The question is about whether accepting the grant involves any obligation, which you haven't addressed.
    – ff524
    Jul 7, 2015 at 19:36
  • 1
    @ff524 Actually I think I'm a little confused by the question. My interpretation was that the grant was specifically at another university.
    – MJeffryes
    Jul 7, 2015 at 19:40
  • @ff524 is right MJffryes! I want to know if getting a grant legally prevents me from changing my university and getting another PhD position Jul 8, 2015 at 1:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .