I am a M.Sc. graduated from a developing country and I recently got admitted for PhD in one of the reputed universities in Canada (rank 20-30th world-wide), say university A. In fact, because of the compulsory military service I could not exit the country with an M.Sc. admission letter, so I ended up applying for the PhD programs. In general, I am completely happy to do my PhD in A and the university is considered a good place to research, however I thought that by doing research with great scientists there and completing a M.Sc. degree I probably would have a better chance of getting a PhD admission from a better university (e.g. a top-10 place), say university B. As I have an interest to work as faculty in future, studying in B may slightly increase my chance for my future carrier. So, I would like to know is it anything bad or immoral to express my idea to my potential advisor when I arrived in Canada? Please note that I would be perfectly happy to work as a PhD student under his supervision in case that he is unwilling of the downgrade but I fear that the proposal in itself burns the bridges or implies that I have not interested in doing research with him. All in all, I would like to know that what is the best (safest) way to express my desire to my advisor?

P.S: regarding the university policy, I checked and the university accept it if the advisor agrees.

  • You first need to check university A's policies on duplicate degrees. Many universities will not issue an M.Sc. to someone who already has one. May 11, 2017 at 17:43
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    I checked and the university does it if the advisor agrees.
    – user35129
    May 11, 2017 at 21:24
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    While getting a degree from a top school seems like a good idea, the process i.e. getting an advisor, relocating, atmosphere, getting a good topic to work on, making sure you get publications, graduating etc. might be a bit of hassle. If you are planning to stay in Academia after your PhD, at least in some fields, the advisor (his/her name) might carry more weight than the ranking of the school.
    – The Guy
    May 14, 2017 at 17:44
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    Since a recommendation letter from A weight much in an application to B, you may want to be sure that your professor in A would support your plan fully and enthusiastically.
    – Greg
    May 15, 2017 at 2:54
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    I would recommend not announcing your intention upon arrival. Wait at least a month, maybe a semester. Build a relationship. Once you do that, this communication will happen naturally. May 17, 2017 at 23:08

2 Answers 2


Your wording here is perfectly fine for explaining your situation in university A. Your advisor is the one who works there and knows about internal dynamics of the university.

And also, name of the institution is important at a certain level. What values you as a scientist is the quality of your publications and thesis. Finishing a PhD in university B might be a challenge, but you can set your goal to make better publications than people who have PhD degree from B.

For the last point, there is always postdoc, which will probably be the most productive period of your life. You could finish your postdoc at university B and achieve your goals anyways.


You need to check policies of your university. In general, if you don't pass qualification exam you can be transferred to Master degree. Please make sure that is case with your university and program. It is important to do it before qualification exam. if your university doesn't have one. you need to consider dropping as an only viable option.

edit: In case that your university policies allow downgrading, you just need to be straightforward and communicate with you advisor clearly that you dont want PhD degree from the present university. One thing you should be aware, will change of institution affect you visa situation? you need to make sure this first to avoid troubles.

  • Thanks for your answer. As I stressed in the question content my main concern is the way to communicate my idea to my advisor. In fact, the university can downgrade my PhD to M.Sc. upon the agreement of the advisor.
    – user35129
    May 14, 2017 at 16:36
  • @CoderInNetwork ok Now it is clear, I will edit to include more.
    – SSimon
    May 17, 2017 at 10:43
  • However I dont comment on your decision to do so, I dont understand why people are commenting regarding this issue because that was not your question. Am I right?
    – SSimon
    May 17, 2017 at 10:48

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