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After some bad experiences in a master's program, I decided to become a PhD student in the same program. My plan was to finish a paper and leave as soon as possible, meanwhile earning the recommendations that my bad early experiences prevented. That's basically been the situation for a couple years now - longer than I ever expected. At this point, I'm finally finish my projects and I've presented at a couple conferences. I genuinely like the professor I'm working with now. However, I never intended to specialize in this research area; the idea of doing my PhD in this area is very disappointing to me. And (selfishly?), I very much want to move to a new institution.

At this point, I'm not sure what to do. My ideal situation would be to finish my current projects and move to a new institution to work in a field I was more excited about. However, I'm afraid that if I reveal my desires the professor I'm working with will try to sabotage me. I'm also concerned that leaving now will look strange on a graduate application: why admit a quitter? I'm also starting to feel a little old to be starting a new program.

I'd really like to just be done with all this, but the question I keep asking myself is, "Why get a PhD in something you're not interested in?" Maybe, though, there are good reasons.

I'd appreciate any advice you may have.

1 Answer 1

Nothing is preventing you from trying PhD in another laboratory at least one or two times. It is appropriate, in some cases may be recommended and is usually accepted as a normal case.

Maybe if it is an adjacent laboratory next door, a potential new supervisor may not want to conflict with your former supervisor, but this seldom expands outside one institution, and even there largely depends on personalities involved.