I read the thread about PhD students transferring to a different school. How far into the doctoral program can or should such a transfer be done?


  • 1
    This is gonna get closed as a shopping question, but pretty much all schools allow students to apply for new admissions even if they are already accepted elsewhere.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 23:21
  • what's a shopping question?
    – Roy
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 1:50
  • I have seen students following a head-hunted professor transfer with their basic exams accepted, or with one accepted, and the other still to do. I think that ABD would be too late -- in this case, it would make more sense to finish up and defend at the original institution. // If you are still in your first year or two, just apply fresh. You might want to bring in some transfer credits, but basically, as a PhD student, you are responsible for learning what you need to learn. So, in the new school, you would not waste your time re-taking coursework you're already solid about. Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 5:23
  • The shopping question is: "Can anyone suggest schools with doctoral programs which allow such transfer?" -- we don't do lists on stackexchange.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 14:25
  • 4
    You read "the thread" on PhD students transferring? Maybe you could link to it?
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


There really aren't "transfers" at the PhD level as there are with undergraduates. What might happen at best is that you:

  • Get some credit for coursework done, or for core-course requirements (like stats, etc.)
  • Rarely, a student can come in with their MA/MPhil and waive coursework and advance to candidacy.

But everything at this level is ad hoc. Sometime, students can switch programs -- especially if it's in the context of their advisor moving from University A to University B and taking their students with them, other times it's impossible.

It's all up to the university, the program, your advisor, and the alignment of the stars in heaven.

Otherwise you apply as a new student and start off at zero. Most students who do this do it in their first or second year, it becomes much harder the more advanced you are.

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