Our books

Become a Fan

« Job-market query: applying widely or selectively by AOS? | Main | Did physicists show we're not living in a simulation? No. »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

PhD Student

Thanks, Marcus, for the post. I’m the reader mentioned above. I want to say a little bit more about my case. I attended a terminal MA program before enrolling in my current PhD program. My areas of interest lie in X and I don’t have much interest in Y. I tried to be interested in Y but didn’t succeed though I took three courses in Y before. One of my reasons for transferring credits is to avoid taking courses in Y again. However, my current program does not allow me to transfer more than one course from my previous institution which makes it inevitable that I will take many courses in Y again. This really frustrates me. Anyway, I don’t want to sound like I have a bad feeling about Y.

PhD Student

Hi, Marcus. I wonder if you could say a little bit about how you managed to transfer to Arizona? That may help those who consider transferring. Thanks!


PhD Student: would they allow you to take non-Y classes instead, given your background? You might petition to see if they would allow a substitution. You wouldn't take fewer classes, just different ones.

FWIW, I was able to petition out of a few things in my PhD program. E.g., we were supposed to take a Master's exam after finishing the MA coursework, to see if we merited admission to the PhD program. I was able to petition out of the Master's exam, based on the strength of my coursework, and jump straight to the PhD program. I was also able to alter the language requirement to get it to fit my interests better.

PhD Student

To RexII: No, they don't allow me to do that. I have to take courses from a variety of subfields. Besides, the courses for next semester mainly lie in Y. I don't have many choices then.
That is why I'm considering transferring to programs in Canada or UK where I'm not required to take many courses.

Michel X.

PhD Student: How many courses are we talking about in the first place? While some Canadian programs may require fewer courses than their American counterparts, that's mostly for students coming in with a Master's degree. They also fund you for a much shorter period of time.

I didn't transfer. But FWIW my (Canadian) education featured 20 (philosophy) courses and a thesis as an undergrad, six courses and a thesis as a Master's student, and ten courses as a PhD student (plus a further 20 audits and two reading groups). That's 36 courses and 3 theses. Some of the courses I took for credit were repeats. Most students don't audit quite as much as I did, but otherwise my philosophical education was pretty typical for Canada.

I don't think it's really in a program's interests to grant too many transfer credits. This is because the point of coursework isn't just to beef up one's philosophical education (although surely that's part of the point). Rather, I think a big part of coursework is giving the student some time to explore new subfields, to give the student lots of practice developing their research and writing skills, and to ensure the student's integration into the department community (peers and professors alike) and professional network. It helps to introduce department members (especially potential committee members) to the student in question. Rushing through a program hampers at least those last few goals.

Starting over at a new program may be a little annoying, but it sort of restarts your funding and research clocks too, and gives you more time to cultivate your AOCs, to present and publish your research, etc. And it can give you a chance to get a head start on the dissertation, depending on when you transferred.

What makes the most sense to me is to grant transfer students exemptions from requirements (e.g. breadth, logic) that they clearly fulfilled at their prior institution. In theory, that should then free up the student's course selection a little.

PhD Student

Michel X.: I didn't do my undergrad in philosophy. But, for some special reason, I have already spent five years in grad school and taken 20 grad courses in philosophy. My current program requires me take another 12+ courses. That is what annoys me.

Michel X.

I see. But if you were to transfer, you'd have already done a full year of coursework where you are, plus however many courses are required at the new program (unless it's in the UK). Wouldn't that total be pretty close to the same?


PhD Student, I could totally get why you are annoyed about being mislead. However, it seems to me not the best option to switch programs, especially not to one in the UK or Canada (if course work is your only reason for switching). I mean, if you get into Toronto or Oxford than okay. Most other programs do not have great placement records, and unlike the US where non-top schools prepare you well for teaching jobs, UK programs do not. I am not sure about Canada. Anyway, my guess is that by the time you switch you will have eaten up a lot of time with the transfer, and then you might not be in as good a place to get a job. If you want to save time I would just start working on your thesis early so you can get that done is less time than most. It's your choice, of course. But that is my 2 cents.

PhD Student

Thanks for those replies. The basic idea is that I have to spend another 5+ years if I choose to stay at my current program. If I transfer to another program which allows me to transfer some credits, then it seems that I will also spend 5+ years in grad school. Though the completion time will be the same, there will be a significant difference if I can end up in a better program.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Job-market reporting thread

Writing Service