I'm in a situation that I'd love to hear some second opinions on. I am a second semester senior at a well known engineering university. I was never interested in going to grad school during my first three years of undergrad. After an internship, I realized that I might want to go to grad school but didn't apply to any by the deadlines because I was hoping to get a job in industry. When no opportunities panned out, I approached a professor to do undergrad research in his group this semester in the hopes of getting a recommendation letter for future applications. Once we talked, he mentioned that he had a PhD position available and asked me if I would be interested. Once I learned the details (the funding was coming from an external company that I would have a good chance of getting a fellowship from), I was extremely interested and said that I would join his group to pursue my PhD.

Now that I have accepted the offer, I am starting to have reservations. I believe that I would love the research and the coursework, but I'm not sure that I want to stay at my undergrad university for that long. Would it be beneficial to go somewhere else? If so, how should I go about considering other universities? How should I let my potential advisor know about the doubts I am having? Any insight more experienced people could provide would be extremely helpful!

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    Are you looking for a career in industry or academia? In a previous question it was noted that there is some taboo to doing this in academia - you are expected to get a diversity of experiences a bit - but some people do it with no issues. I think it's a bigger issue that you will have had all your research experience in one lab, not just the institution. If you aren't planning on academia long term none of this matters. If post docs are common in your field you might be able to leave for a postdoc.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 9, 2017 at 1:48
  • In addition to what Bryan said, also consider any options for joint research projects if any are available, especially those that let you go work at other institutions. Feb 9, 2017 at 1:51
  • (and if you just want a survey of opinions, I was accepted at my undergraduate institution; when I declined to go elsewhere, the head of the admissions committee effectively said "We'll miss you but now that your decision is in I can tell you I would have advised you to go elsewhere." - I didn't get the impression this was because he thought I chose a better school, or my training would be better elsewhere, but that someone somewhere else who would be put off now would not have reason to be)
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 9, 2017 at 1:51
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    Thanks for your help Bryan and Halfway. I am much more interested in a career in industry, so I am not quite as concerned with the taboo around staying at my current university. Of course my mind could change over time, but I am very interested in this project for the industry exposure and practical applications of the end work. I'll definitely look further into PhD internships and working with collaborators at other institutions in order to travel and gain some new experiences.
    – Jape056
    Feb 9, 2017 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


I am in a very similar situation. I'm at my undergrad school for PhD. I would say that it's more important to be in a place where you feel you are going to be happy and productive. There's no point going to a new place if you're not convinced you'll be able to get a good PhD out of it. If you are productive and publish good research it won't matter where you did your undergrad. I would also suggest looking for internships in industry or applying for travel grants to visit collaborators in other institutions to get some diversity on your CV. Hope that helps!

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