A PhD student writes:
Is there ever any license for switching graduate (that is, Ph.D.) programs twice? I transferred from a (barely) unranked program to one in the top 40ish range after two years at the former. I am now in my second year at the latter. Several factors conspire to make me question the wisdom of staying put, however.
First, the new program’s major faculty member in my AOS retired, the possibility of which I was not warned about beforehand. Second, I feel I’ve developed considerably in the past year—for instance, I gave a well-received paper at a graduate conference about my AOS at a top university. Third, I would be deeply unhappy with a non-research job, which is mainly where my program places its Ph.D.s.
What are my options? Having already transferred once, am I tainted in the eyes of the higher-ranked programs I might now like to apply to? Is it tacky of me and disrespectful to my current program to entertain the thought of leaving?
This is a topic on which I have insufficient evidence to even venture an opinion. Readers?