It is PhD student recruiting season, so there are a whole bunch of folks trying to decide whether to accept offer A, offer B, or what’s behind door #3. As they weigh the pros and cons of living in city P or Q, one factor many consider is whether the Professor they plan to study with will remain on faculty through their placement in their first job. I explain here why that is the wrong question to ask.
The appropriate question is this: do you believe that Professor X will want to take you with her when she departs for greener pastures? Her potential departure is a benefit, not a cost: few faculty you want to study under depart one department only to land at one less desirable. Further, if she wants to take you with her, then she is going to be willing to work with you from afar should you decline the offer and remain where you began. She might not be able to officially direct you, but she has colleagues who will be happy to “stand in” as your official Chair. Why? Because she wanted to bring you with her.
So, how good are you willing to be?