How do I switch fields?

Date: November 2016


How do I go about switching fields? What happens with my funding and plans to take the A-exam very soon?


Ready for a Change


Dear Ready for a Change, 

Occasionally students change research directions or advisors and wish to formally transfer to a different graduate field. The Graduate School permits this but it does, of course, require the support of the new field and usually involves some advance planning. Some graduate fields review such “program change” requests only as part of their regular admission process and may request test scores, letters of recommendation or other materials. Other fields may simply expect to see that you have identified a new advisor in the field. In all cases it’s important to discuss the impact to both your funding and completion timeline.

To officially begin the process, complete and submit the student program change (R1) form. If you’ve already identified a potential advisor in the new field you can inquire about new requirements, schedule for degree completion, and funding. The financial aid package (fellowship, assistantship, etc.) that came with your offer of admission resides with your original field and may not transfer so if you are admitted to a new field your funding package may change. You’ll want to clarify how many semesters, and the start date, of any funding being offered by the new advisor and field. If you have an external fellowship sufficient to provide full support through the completion of your degree completion, you might not have any changes in your funding plan.

If your case is more complicated than this, or if you have questions, contact me and we can talk through the process. My number is 607-255-4603, and my email is



Jan Allen
Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs