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First of all, I'm sorry if this is off topic, I wasn't sure if I should post or not and couldn't decide based on the guidelines.

My situation is a bit unique. I go to a large state university (X) that is relatively well known in my field. It has its main campus in city A in the U.S., and a small branch campus abroad in country B. I spent 5 semesters in branch B, and have been at main campus (A) for a semester, a summer term, as well as this ongoing semester. I am currently applying to PhD programs in the U.S.

Here are the facts:

  1. My degree doesn't specify campus. Branch B is not degree granting, and my degree just says X university.

  2. I have only one transcript and one GPA. My transcript looks like this:

    • Fall 2013 - Campus A
    • Fall 2016 - Campus B
  3. My last 3 journal publications since I came to the U.S. bear a double affiliation with both campuses.

  4. 2/3 of my letter writers are from main campus in the U.S.

  5. Most importantly, I have no idea where I will spend my next (and last) semester. I might stay at A in the U.S., or I might have to go back to B abroad. Either way, it doesn't change my degree or anything else, just where I'll physically attend classes.

I'm quite concerned and confused about how to treat this situation on my PhD applications. Naturally, I'd enter both and upload same transcript twice:

a. X University (Campus B): Fall 2013 - Fall 2015

b. X University: Spring 2016 - Present

However, I do not know how to approach this since I'm technically and officially just a student of X university with my degree from there. More importantly, I have no idea where I'll be next semester! I also technically still have affiliation with campus B since I haven't internally transferred to the U.S., they're just letting me stay as long as I need for research. For my CV, I did this:

X University .... City A, State

X University (Campus B) .... City, Country B

Degree, Thesis, GPA, etc.

I don't want to get admitted somewhere only for them to realize I spent my last semester at B and revoke my offer for fraud or something like that. Most of my professors here in the U.S. said I just list X University, but I guess that's just because they fully understand my situation and how the whole branch campus thing works.

How do I make sure that this information is transmitted honestly and clearly to the admissions committee?

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    Unless branch B has very bad reputation, I don't see why people would care which branch of University X you have been studying the most. What are your concerns? – scaaahu Oct 12 '16 at 5:39
  • Most people wouldn't know B exists, it's very small. People from some research area would know about it due to the faculty there, however. I am just concerned with someone thinking I tricked them or something in case I go back to B next semester. For example, a university calls me for a campus visit and I'm like "oh, sorry, I'm out of the U.S. for the whole semester." That's my concern. – Ash Oct 12 '16 at 5:41
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    Being out of the country for a semester is not that unusual. My university heavily advertised their study abroad programs -- you went to another university for the semester, but were still officially enrolled at the home university. – Kathy Oct 13 '16 at 16:42
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As your professors suggested you can just list X University. This is the university that grants you your degree, it does not matter at which campus you studied. Since X University is willing to associate with the branch campus so strongly I would assume the campus has a similar reputation and as such I don't see how anyone would be deceived there.

At the same time I don't think it would hurt your application to mention that you studied in two countries and experienced two cultures. Having experience dealing with different customs may smooth your interaction with researchers from other cultures. You can for example make a brief mention (one or two sentences) in a motivation letter. Of course you should consider carefully whether there are more important things you could mention in those sentences.

If you insist on including this in your CV make it clear that it is a single degree. My personal preference would be to have this in a single line, for example:

X University .... City A, State and Campus B .... City, Country B

Regarding your transcript: Don't submit the same transcript twice. It will only lead to confusion and likely the assumption that you submitted the wrong transcript for one of them.

Regarding your publications: Don't worry about what affiliations are on there. It is not unusual to have affiliations to different departments of the same university on research work. Affiliations on your publications carry no weight in who granted you your degree.

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