27 October 2011

Choosing a grad program, the short version

Sometimes you have to simplify.

Deciding on a grad program is a complicated choice. Do you pick based on the institutional name? The program? The advisor? Here’s a way to simplify your decision.

Which program will pay you the most?

Money talks, bullshit walks.

I’m not saying you should choose only by that criterion. But it is a quick way to shake out who wants you the most.


Prof-like Substance said...

Yes, don't worry about what program you are the most comfortable with or which potential PIs have a good track record with students and mentoring. Go for the money! It's just 4-whatever years of your life, what's the worst that can happen?

Miss MSE said...

Caveat: Pay you the most, relative to how much you will likely be spending in rent. The same dollar amount will get you very different distances in the Rust Belt versus California.

Zen Faulkes said...

PLS: I repeat, "I’m not saying you should choose only by that criterion."

It's an "all other things being equal" argument. And all other things are rarely equal.

Prof-like Substance said...

All things ARE rarely equal, which is why I think chasing the money would absolutely not top my list. In fact, I can say that with confidence, given my own grad experience.

I'm not saying that the starving student look is a good one, simply that I would put FAR more weight on the benefits of a program and lab to my potential career than I would on gross dollar amount (which is complicated by cost of living and other factors).

Dr. Dad, PhD said...

Honestly, money shouldn't really play into it at all. In my opinion, once you take it out of the equation you can really evaluate the different programs/environments you're applying to.

While some places may pay you a bit less, there are MUCH better signs of support than simply looking for the cash...