Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

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Catria
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Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby Catria » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:51 pm

Since my parents didn't let me take the GRE on time, I couldn't apply at graduate schools in the US. That made me quite sad and embarrassed. :oops: :cry:

I think they will let me take the GRE if I wanted to transfer from a graduate school to another, but I will have to do so on my dime, though, since I'm already in somewhere and it's a fully funded position close enough to home for me to attend as a commuter. (For the record, I double-check the funding at the schools I want to apply to before I go so far as to file applications) Plus I will have to do research concurrently with my coursework.

I know, I will probably have wasted a year in a Canadian MSc program if I elect to apply to transfer to an American PhD program by then. Do you have any advice in such situations? Surely planning ahead will make the entire process much smoother.

TakeruK
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby TakeruK » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:47 pm

I'm not really sure what you are asking?

If I remember correctly, you are a Canadian student (in Quebec?) and you were originally planning to apply to some US schools. But from this post, it sounds like you are going to do a Canadian MSc program instead. And your plan is to apply to American PhD programs after your MSc?

I also did a Canadian MSc after my undergrad and I'm now in an American PhD program. Here are some thoughts:

1. It's normal to check the funding at schools before you apply -- as far as I know, most people do this, but in physics/astro/planetary sciences, all programs in Canada are fully funded, and all PhD programs are pretty much fully funded. It's also normal at programs in both Canada and the US to be doing coursework at the same time as research!

2. You don't "transfer" to a PhD program (in the US or Canada). The only "transfer" I know of is for a Canadian MSc student to transfer directly into a PhD program at the same school, with the same supervisor (i.e. similar to a direct entry PhD but you do it after 1 year of MSc -- this will prevent the need for a MSc thesis defense).

3. When I applied to PhD programs last year, I applied along with anyone else who was going directly from undergrad. The only difference is that I submit an extra transcript from my MSc program (and I explained why I was only getting a MSc from my current grad school -- normal in Canada, a bit abnormal in the US).

4. You should expect to have zero courses / credit transferred from your MSc program. If you are lucky, you might be allowed to not take some classes at the US school, but you generally have to take other courses instead (this is better than nothing). It's rare that you would be able to take a fewer number of total credits. In addition, most Canadian MSc programs require about 4-6 courses, while US PhD programs require much more -- which means that even if you can transfer some courses, it won't make a big dent in the total courses you have to take.

5. However, while you might not get anything credited "on paper", I've found that my prior grad school experience has helped me deal with the different expectations / work style of a graduate student easier. I hope that this extra experience will help me be more productive in the coming years, but we will see.

6. Actually, all of the above was assuming that you meant you wanted to finish your MSc program (assuming it's 2 years) before going to a PhD. But I suppose you could just apply to PhD programs next fall and quit your MSc after one year. I would not recommend this -- I think quitting grad school is generally a bad thing to have on your record. If you don't want to wait 2 years before starting your American PhD, then I recommend taking a year off and apply for Fall 2014. If you want to improve your chances, it's probably a good idea to try to get a research position during the year "off". Talk to profs at your school now for help / making connections. You can also use the extra time to prepare for the GREs.

7. Do you know why you are certain you want to go to a US school? I remember you mostly from a thread about Tufts, and I don't really think Tufts is necessarily that much better than many Canadian schools. I think it's only worth it to go through with all the international student stuff if you are going to get an opportunity that isn't available in Canada. I don't think Tufts will provide that (unless you also have other, better, schools in mind). If you're not aiming much higher, then there are still a lot of quality astrophysics programs in Canada -- especially McGill, Toronto, and UBC; but also McMaster and UVic, off the top of my head. Why not stay in Canada, make life simpler, and potentially get your PhD faster too? [I don't mean this as an attack against your goals of an American PhD -- instead, I mean for you to consider why exactly do you want to go to a US school]

Finally, I almost hesitate to say this, since I do not know the full details on your family situation, so I am making some assumptions in this next paragraph. I am a little troubled by your comment that your parents "didn't let [you] take the GRE on time". You are the only one responsible for your career, so it's not very effective to blame anyone else on your ability to take the GRE. I do sympathize though, my parents were also not initially thrilled to learn that I wanted to do grad school after my BSc (and especially since we grew up on the west coast and all the MSc schools I looked at were on the east coast). If it makes a difference, I am also from an Asian-Canadian family (I think you mention that somewhere), so I might understand how it is difficult to reconcile your own goals with your family's. Or, I might be way off in my assumptions! (if so, sorry!) In any case, if you want to talk about it further, feel free to send me a PM, it sounds like we might have a lot in common.

Catria
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby Catria » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:07 am

There may be multiple reasons to even want to transfer from a graduate school to another, ranging from a supervisor retiring (a sabbatical is another matter), a supervisor's research grants being axed (no prof is immune to that, not even the profs at the best schools) or deteriorating conditions at the current school.

But, if I complete a Canadian MSc in full, I will have access to much better PhD programs than Tufts. Johns Hopkins, UIUC, Rutgers, Penn State, Brown, U Virginia, U Wisconsin in the US (plus maybe another Ivy League school that isn't HYPC), U Toronto, McMaster (not sure about UBC) McGill back in Canada.

blighter
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby blighter » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:20 am

A better PhD programme than Tufts? Holy ***!

bfollinprm
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:15 pm

blighter wrote:A better PhD programme than Tufts? Holy ***!


HAHAHAHAHA! That's impossible, everyone knows that. Silly Catria.

TakeruK
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby TakeruK » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:28 pm

Catria wrote:There may be multiple reasons to even want to transfer from a graduate school to another, ranging from a supervisor retiring (a sabbatical is another matter), a supervisor's research grants being axed (no prof is immune to that, not even the profs at the best schools) or deteriorating conditions at the current school.

But, if I complete a Canadian MSc in full, I will have access to much better PhD programs than Tufts. Johns Hopkins, UIUC, Rutgers, Penn State, Brown, U Virginia, U Wisconsin in the US (plus maybe another Ivy League school that isn't HYPC), U Toronto, McMaster (not sure about UBC) McGill back in Canada.


Both statements are definitely true. I should have said that a student-initiated transfer in grad school doesn't really happen. If a prof is moving, you don't usually get a say on where to go -- you either choose to move with the prof to where-ever he/she is going or you stay behind. A retiring prof shouldn't be an issue since profs won't take students if they plan to retire before the student finishes, unless unexpected circumstances come up. Generally, a retired prof will can still advise their students but not do anything else (committees, classes etc.), sometimes as a prof. emeritus. Even if this doesn't happen, it's likely the student will be asked to find someone else at the same school to take over the project. In rare cases, a transfer may be possible I guess. Again, I was trying to speak in general terms -- transfers are not the norm/expected.

Definitely agree with your second point -- finishing a Canadian MSc in full will improve your chances when you reapply for more schools in 2 years.

Catria
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby Catria » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:49 pm

How would attending another school as a visiting student differ from attending it as a transfer student?

TakeruK
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby TakeruK » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:04 pm

Catria wrote:How would attending another school as a visiting student differ from attending it as a transfer student?


If you mean that the situation I mentioned above is no different than "transferring" then you're right -- but I said that it's not a typical case (i.e. I don't see how you can plan such a "transfer").

But if you are just asking in general .. (i.e. what if the prof moves to another school and the student "moves" there with the prof, as a visiting student/researcher in order to complete the thesis work)... then the difference is that a visiting student will eventually get a degree from their home university while a full transfer student would receive a degree from the new university. The visiting student will also be subject to the degree requirements of the home university and would likely defend the thesis at the home university.

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quizivex
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby quizivex » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:38 pm

Catria wrote:How would attending another school as a visiting student differ from attending it as a transfer student?



VISITING: TRANSFER

(a) Eating : Drinking
(b) Conflagration : Fire
(c) Tufts : Ranking
(d) Sleeping : Dead

The answer is (d)... you don't come back.

Catria
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby Catria » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:51 pm

Is there any instance where study abroad could be workable in graduate school?

TakeruK
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby TakeruK » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:52 am

Catria wrote:Is there any instance where study abroad could be workable in graduate school?


Many graduate programs really want you to take courses from them, since they are the one issuing the degree and certifying you to the world as an expert in the field. So, it's rare to have "study abroad" programs in Physics/Astro like the way undergrad "study abroad" programs work (i.e. take courses in a different university at a different country as credit towards your home university degree). I haven't heard of one. However, I do know that in Ontario, most graduate programs participate in the "Ontario Visiting Graduate Student" program and allows you to take graduate courses at another Ontario university for credit at home if you get approval at both schools.

But, as a graduate student, you may participate in "summer schools" or "winter schools", which are more like symposiums or seminars (could be a few days to a few weeks long) hosted by another school or research institution to learn about a specific topic (although generally not towards your course requirements). In addition, you might have collaborators at another institution and your supervisor might send you there for a semester or two to work. Again, these opportunities generally are geared towards your research work rather than coursework though! (while undergrad study abroad is more coursework oriented.)

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Andromeda
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby Andromeda » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:45 am

If you want to spend some time "abroad" just to say you did, honestly just take a semester or year off and go do it (either traveling or work holiday visa or whatever). No one will mind and instead people will find it interesting in an interview situation- I know this btw because this is exactly what I did.

Seriously, if you just want a semester abroad type thing that's my advice to you.

Catria
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby Catria » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:40 pm

TakeruK wrote:
Catria wrote:Is there any instance where study abroad could be workable in graduate school?


Many graduate programs really want you to take courses from them, since they are the one issuing the degree and certifying you to the world as an expert in the field. So, it's rare to have "study abroad" programs in Physics/Astro like the way undergrad "study abroad" programs work (i.e. take courses in a different university at a different country as credit towards your home university degree). I haven't heard of one. However, I do know that in Ontario, most graduate programs participate in the "Ontario Visiting Graduate Student" program and allows you to take graduate courses at another Ontario university for credit at home if you get approval at both schools.

But, as a graduate student, you may participate in "summer schools" or "winter schools", which are more like symposiums or seminars (could be a few days to a few weeks long) hosted by another school or research institution to learn about a specific topic (although generally not towards your course requirements). In addition, you might have collaborators at another institution and your supervisor might send you there for a semester or two to work. Again, these opportunities generally are geared towards your research work rather than coursework though! (while undergrad study abroad is more coursework oriented.)


Thank you. So graduate-level study abroad is often no more student-initiated than a transfer from a graduate school to another.

TakeruK
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby TakeruK » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:55 pm

It depends on the advisor too. For things like symposiums and winter/summer schools, in some cases, the advisor says "hey, this would be a good opportunity for you" but for some advisors, it's up to the student to bring up the topic and/or ask for permission/funding to go.

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sphy
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Re: Transfer from a MSc in one university to a PhD in another

Postby sphy » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:06 am

quizivex wrote:
Catria wrote:How would attending another school as a visiting student differ from attending it as a transfer student?



VISITING: TRANSFER

(a) Eating : Drinking
(b) Conflagration : Fire
(c) Tufts : Ranking
(d) Sleeping : Dead

The answer is (d)... you don't come back.


Ha ha ha! Humor at it's best. :lol:




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