I'm wondering what experiences people had who took up positions at satellite campuses, in particular of well-known and well-renowned universities. From what I see, satellite campuses are often the result of a merger with a small college and somewhat retain a focus on teaching and not so much research.

I'm particularly interested in to what extent positions at satellite campuses provide the benefits of working at the main campus in terms of working environment and research collaborations. Is the experience more like working at a completely separate institution, or merely in a different building at the same institution?

To give a concrete example: Often the satellite campuses don't have a graduate programme. Are the opportunities to (co-)supervise students at the main campus?

I'm looking mostly for experiences with faculty positions, but postdoc/graduate student experiences are also of interest.

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    Just to make sure we're agreed on terms, could you add a few examples of what you mean by satellite campuses? I suspect the answer is different for NYU Abu Dhabi vs Penn State Altoona.
    – AJK
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 0:29
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    I'm actually interested in both cases. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 0:35
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    There is likely to be a wide spectrum of answers. I would plan to research these questions separately for each position that interests you, and to ask about them specifically when you interview. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 1:27
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    The question at the moment is more whether I should apply at all, that's why I'm asking for people's experiences. Finding out at the interview that you shouldn't have applied at all wouldn't be ideal. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 2:42
  • Also worth noting: some of these departments will be in flux. I know some departments with very strong researchers even without PhD, and ambitions to add PhD program. But it can go the other way, too - small PhD programs can disappear. Both mostly out of your control. Before you apply, I'd decide if not having a PhD (even if there is still good research there) is a total dealbreaker. It doesn't have to be, but if it is, might rule out many satellite campuses.
    – AJK
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 5:29

1 Answer 1


I haven't worked at these campuses, but know some people who do pretty well. These comments are more in reference to regional satellite campuses, e.g. Penn State Altoona, CSU-Pueblo, UNC Charlotte. These are not the flagships, but have varying levels of research activity - some departments might have masters programs, or PhDs created to focus on an area that faculty specialize in, but not the generic PhD for the area.

To first order, satellite campuses should be thought of as independent from the main campus. You share similar funding trends and chancellor edicts, and some programs (e.g. faculty teaching/research awards) cross borders. But it is not common to co-supervise students at the main campus. Maybe this could occur if you had a really unique research specialization, so you were a critical collaborator, or if you were in the same city, or had a strong personal connection. But I don't think it is that much more likely that you would co-supervise a grad student as a satellite prof than as a prof at any other geographically convenient location.

What might be more common is that, as a research-active member of a satellite campus without a PhD program, you could supervise and train a Masters or undergrad student who then goes to the main campus. You might then continue to collaborate with the student and his/her new adviser.

Even things you might not expect can be separated between campuses, like journal access - satellite campuses may not have all the same journals as the flagship.

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    My previous affiliation had two satellite campuses not particularly far away. I went by one once when I was in the suburb it's in and attempted to log in on a library computer with my campus ID only to be told that I needed to sign up for a new ID from there.
    – trikeprof
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 0:56
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    @trikeprof Ouch - I was about to suggest access to library resources as a benefit to satellite campuses vs. similarly sized and accomplished schools not affiliated with a larger sibling.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 1:36
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    Yeah, the library resources thing sounded like it would be infuriating. Of course this is probably even more campus-dependent than other things. But from what I've heard I wouldn't take it for granted.
    – AJK
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 5:14

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