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Topic: BSc and PhD at the same school?  (Read 8649 times)

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Offline interminable

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BSc and PhD at the same school?
« on: August 14, 2010, 04:29:13 PM »
I'm looking into doing my PhD, and most people have told me that it's a bad idea to do it at the same school that I did my bachelors.

I'm just looking for thoughts and opinions on this. Is it actually frowned upon? Professors at my current school have told me staying is fine - but their opinion is biased because they were trying to convince me to do grad studies with them.

Offline Biopolmonkey

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Re: BSc and PhD at the same school?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2010, 08:25:20 PM »
I think it partly depends on what you want to do and what university you go to. I am doing my PhD at the same university I did my undergraduate at - of the 7 other PhD students in my group, only 2 studied elsewhere. This is partly because my university has a well-respected polymer centre (my area) but retainment of undergrads is also high throughout the department. The people I know who have left having done both undergrad and PhD at my uni have had no problems in getting jobs, although some get sucked into staying for years and years through to post-doc and beyond. Personally, this is something I want to avoid.

Think about if you trust your university to give you a good PhD, are there people researching the science you want to do?  Can you stand to stay there for another few years?

Offline Borek

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Re: BSc and PhD at the same school?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2010, 03:58:05 AM »
Where are you? As far as I know there is nothing unusual with doing both at the same place in Europe, things look differently in US.
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Offline Yggdrasil

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Re: BSc and PhD at the same school?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2010, 11:02:07 AM »
People frown upon doing one's graduate and postdoctoral work at the same institution more than doing one's undergraduate and graduate studies at the same institution.  One advantage of going to a different institution is that you familiarize yourself with the different research techniques and approaches used at that institution as well as expand your network of contacts.  In the case of undergraduates, they may not have been able to interact much with the faculty in the department, so even though they stay at the same place they can still learn about new research and meet new people.  However, if you stay I would definitely recommend going to a different institution to do your postdoctoral work.

The quality of the program in your specific field also matters with you decision to stay or go.  If your current institution has a well respected program in the field which you wish to study, no one will fault you for wanting to stay.  However, you should still apply to other top programs and if the opportunity presents itself to study at a university with a significantly better/more prestigious program, you should seriously consider doing so.

Offline Doc Oc

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Re: BSc and PhD at the same school?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2010, 11:32:32 AM »
I agree that the standards between US and Europe seem to be different, the US seems to be much more opposed to this than European institutions.

When I was applying to grad programs I was told that it's considered a form of academic inbreeding to go to the same university where you did your BS and get a Ph.D.  I even spoke with a faculty member at my alma mater and he told me that they don't even look at applications from people who have done their undergrad there.  It has to do with what Yggdrasil is saying; you're supposed to be trying to expand your knowledge and view of your field.  If you stay at the same institution for too long you become very indoctrinated by one line of thought and don't learn to see things in different ways.  However, as Biopolmonkey said, if you're at a top tier university or the specific program you're in is very well respected then I think there's more likelihood that people will understand why you wanted to stay.

That being said, the institution where I did my grad work universally encouraged undergrads to apply for the grad program there and no less than 25% of all incoming graduate classes were comprised of undergrads that had gotten their degree there and had planned on staying with the same prof that they did undergrad research with.  None of these people seemed to have any problem getting jobs or postdocs.

So the bottom line is that I was told one thing and did it, but then watched the opposite thing happen and work out for lots of people.  To be honest, the availability of jobs and postdocs seemed to be more influenced by economic conditions than anything.  Lots of grad students from my program locked up good industrial positions without postdocs a few years ago.  This year everybody took a postdoc, there isn't a single person I can think of that got an industrial position.  I will say that moving around and seeing different places and institutions is very cool, I have enjoyed it a lot and encourage everybody to do so (although I understand not everybody is in a situation where they can manage this easily).

Offline interminable

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Re: BSc and PhD at the same school?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2010, 02:01:22 PM »
Just for some general background then.

I'm in British Columbia, Canada at Simon Fraser University, and was leaning towards doing graduate work with this professor:

http://www.sfu.ca/chemistry/groups/Ye/

Most people in the industrial lab I'm currently working in until December have told me that's it's better to broaden my perspective outside of those I've seen within my current university.

I really don't know anything about how to know if a field is respected at a given university though.

My general stubborn point is my dislike of change. I don't want to switch to UBC, let alone leave the province. :P

Offline macman104

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Re: BSc and PhD at the same school?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2010, 03:19:10 AM »
Another important thing to consider is that you should be at a school with at least a few faculty you could see yourself getting your PhD with.  If you only have 1 or 2 that you would enjoy working for, you may want to reconsider.  Things may not work out, you may not get into that professor's lab, or you may get there and hate working for them, so having options available in terms of faculty is important.  My undergrad professor (in the US), flat out told me that he would reject my application if I tried to apply to the school for my PhD.  He said it's important to build my network, and see chemistry being practiced in other places.

Offline tamim83

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Re: BSc and PhD at the same school?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2010, 04:47:35 PM »
I am currently at the same place I did my undergraduate studies for grad. school.  I am visually impaired and need some family support (for things like transportation) so I stayed close to home for both grad. school and undergrad.  Although I don't necessarily want to stay here (at Pitt) after graduation, I am going to mainly look for jobs in Pittsburgh for the same reason.  My second choice is other urban areas that have decent public transit.  I can't go to a small college town or a campus in the middle of nowhere since I can't drive.  I understand why you would want to go somewhere else, but it is not as easy for me to pick up and move.  I have some other issues apart from vision that complicates things as well.

It is a bit unusual for people to stay at their undergraduate institution for grad. school but not unheard of.  As said before, if you want to do a post-doc you should definitely look elsewhere. But for grad school, if you are really content with staying where you are, go for it.  Make sure you do know of a couple of professors that you want to work for just in case and you should be fine. 

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