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Yes, get it in writing! I have learned this the hard way, and have had to learn again, many times both in and outside academia. Trust no one lol. It isn't real until you have something on paper. Even though I know this, I still didn't do the right thing when I recently negotiated a contract. They told me, "we never put X in our contract, but...." I just didn't want to be a pain and make a bad impression on people I would be working with, but I totally accept that this part of my "deal" might not be kept.

As for what to do now for the op, there doesn't seem many options. I mean you could apply out, but by the time you transfer (if you get in) you would have lost a year anyway. Also, if you don't get accepted you could make a bad impression at your current institution.

Trevor Hedberg

In a lot of cases, the problem isn't that departments intentionally mislead people with information like this. I expect that's what happened here. The fact that the department approved a credit transfer in the past does give some reason to think they would do it in this case, which is what the DGS reported. But most likely the past case was significantly different from the current one in ways that weren't obvious. Or perhaps the members of the department just voted differently. Maybe there were new hires that were not at the institution (and thus did not vote) when the prior case was decided. These things happen, unfortunately.

At this point, I think the only thing to do would be to plug along at the current institution. I gather that the programs must have been judged similar in quality by the inquiring reader if this issue was the deciding factor in which one ought to be chosen, so I don't think it'd be worth the costs of trying to transfer somewhere else.

PhD Student

Thanks for all those replies!

To Marcus: Really thanks for posting this. But I wouldn't say that I have been misled. I only received some incomplete information.

I do think it helps to take more course. The reason why I want to avoid taking more courses is that (for some special reason) I have already spent five years in grad school and taken 20+ grad courses, so I really want to speed up.

To Amanda: Thanks! I will definitely keep the "get it in writing" lesson in mind in the future.

As for applying out, you mentioned that "if you don't get accepted you could make a bad impression at your current institution". What if I try to apply out without letting them know, it that a red flag?

To Trevor: You are right. I wouldn't say that they misled me intentionally.


The concerned reader should realize - as should everyone in the profession - that sometimes definitive answers cannot be given to questions like the one s/he asked. When I took my first TT job, they said I could get "credit" for prior service at other jobs, but that it would not be determined until after I started the job. This "credit" would shorten my time to tenure. I had no choice but to trust them (and hope). It worked out fine for me. But a number of years later, a new colleague was denied prior service credit. The practice had changed, even though formally the policy was still in place. Our new colleague was very disappointed.

Marcus Arvan

PhD student: my mistake and apologies. I've changed the title of the post to more accurately reflect your concern!


Well you could try applying out without telling anyone. It *might* raise some flags to not have letters from your current institution, but I think most committee members would understand. The bigger problem is philosophy is a small community, and word gets around. I think there is a decent chance your efforts would be uncovered, which might be awkward. It is all a risk benefit calculation though. You have to think about how bad you want to switch and how vengeful your department members are. Sadly I have seen some pretty vengeful philosophers, although many are not, of course.

PhD Student

To Amanda: Thank you again for the advice. I think I should definitely make a risk benefit calculation before making my decision. Besides, do you think my letter writers in my former institution will feel awkward if I request them to write letters for me again?


Hey PhD Student - I think that can go either way. If you get along with them well it would probably be fine. On the other hand not all academics are the most reliable. Not a easy situation....

PhD Student

Update: Finally, my program "approved" my request for credit transfer. But they only allow me to transfer no more than one course from my previous institution. Don't know what they are thinking exactly.


One course? That is weird. Better than nothing I guess.

PhD Student

Yes, totally weird. It does almost nothing to help me to speed up. Back in the admission season, I told the DGA that the reason why I want to transfer credits was that I want to speed up because (for some reason) I have already spent many years in grad school. It seems that I cannot achieve that in my current institution.
I'm sorry if I sound like complaining.

Marcus Arvan

PhD Student: I wasn't able to transfer much into my program either. I understand it, but think it's a bad kind of policy. I'm going to write a post on it tomorrow!

PhD Student

Thanks, Marcus! I really appreciate what you have done for early-career philosophers.
Thanks Amanda for all the replies!

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