Within my field, I have strong interests in two subfields. Those two subfields are quite different from another though. There is also no overlap between the two fields. (assume all of this)

The department I want to apply to offers two PhDs.

  • a general PhD (PhD A)
  • a quite specific PhD with a focus on one of my subfields (PhD B)

I am now considering to highlight my subfield A for my application to PhD A, and my subfield B for the (more specific) PhD B. I am applying to the same department though. Is this a viable strategy? Will the department notice my two very different statements and look on them rather bad? My fields are very diverse within the field, but they are, nevertheless, in one and the same general field.

  • 2
    I would be surprised if they didn't notice. You should explain in your statements that you are sending two applications, and that you're not trying to game the system but are genuinely interested in both subfield A and subfield B. Hopefully, this will turn your non-viable strategy of hoping they don't notice into a viable strategy. – Peter Shor Apr 11 '16 at 2:23
  • Thank you, but how is what you suggest different from my strategy? So you would not 'highlight' one field more than the other, but present it as me having an interest in both of them equally in both statements? – M. Fingers Apr 11 '16 at 11:57
  • What you want to do is make sure they don't think you're tailoring your statements to the programs just in order to get in, and that once you get in you'll try to transfer to whichever of the programs is your real interest. Mentioning both applications in your statements and saying that you're interested in both is one way of doing that. Sending two completely different statements and not mentioning either in the other is not. – Peter Shor Apr 11 '16 at 13:36
  • well I didn't say I would not mention the other interest, i was speaking of highlighting one interest more than the other in my statement, according to how relevant it would be to the programme.Do you think I should be open about my two interests towards my references, or are they likely going to think I am not very determined for a PhD program?The thing is this: I have two interests I want to pursue in life, and I would not mind not pursuing one for a couple of years in order to do the other.I think its understandable and human, I am only worried about not looking as strong compared to others – M. Fingers Apr 11 '16 at 15:24

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