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I'm a doctoral candidate in Biomedical Engineering. I've finished my coursework and I'm in my first year of PhD research currently - I had 3 more yrs. to graduate. My PhD adviser has decided to move to another university (50 places lower-ranked). I will not need to be a TA after the move, and can fully concentrate on my research, a perk offered by my adviser.

Setting up the equipment all over at the new place will cost me 6 months. But since I can concentrate only on my research, I am expecting I will make up for it.

In my current university, there is no other adviser working in the same field as my current adviser. If I choose to find a new adviser at my current university, I may spend an yr. extra, learning about the new subject area. I will also have TA duties all throughout, which will ultimately push back my expected graduation date by at least 1.5 yrs.

I am unable to decide between

  1. a more valuable peer group at the current university (better overall experience and exchange of ideas) and
  2. earlier graduation possible at the new university.

Please share your advise and help me decide (I see the benefit of extra 1.5 yrs. towards post-doctoral experience, but I may be missing something).

  • I am reading other questions that aren't specific, but which received answers. May be this is not place for these things, as you pointed out. I got misled by the other questions. Anyway, thank you. Adieu Stack Exchange. PS: If there was a specific question, I could have procured data myself and made an objective conclusion. The problem is with experience-related ones. – user49605 Feb 23 '16 at 7:19
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    In my opinion, the research subject and the advisor are always more important than other factors. If it's the subject you are so interested in and the advisor gets along with you very well (this is extremely important, you would be surprised how many questions on this site are about sour relationship with the advisor), I would go with the advisor and do good research and produce excellent papers. Once you have those good research and papers, rank of the school becomes a much smaller issue. – scaaahu Feb 23 '16 at 7:26
  • Yes, I do share a good relationship with my adviser and I like the research area I'm pursuing (although not my primary interest). Perhaps, I'm being too picky. Thank you for that perspective. – user49605 Feb 23 '16 at 7:31
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    Consider option 3, move to a third university which has a group working in your area of expertise, a high ranking, and does not require you to teach. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 23 '16 at 9:53
  • It would be useful if you specified your post-graduation goals (Do you want an academic job? How strong are your preferences?). Also, perhaps you could compare the record of publications and placements for your advisor vs the Professor you would switch to... – Dawn Mar 4 '17 at 12:49
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Having a good advisor and working on a subject you're interested in are the most important things during a PhD in my opinion. I've seen many fail because they were fed up or just didn't click with there advisor for whatever reason.

Also consider your long term goals. If you moved, set up a new lab and worked closely with your advisor for the next few years, could that be the beginning of a research group at the new university, which you could be a part of? Otherwise if you're looking to move out of academia afterwards, does either university have partnerships or close contact with employers that you'd be interested in?

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Based on your description about your new situation I would like to suggest moving. Ihe cons of moving clearly outweights by the pros. 6 months is good enough against a 1.5 years delay.

And your risking also on losing a good adviser which far more important than a university you are in.

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