Is a 1 hour train commute too much for college? Is it worth it?

I plan on eventually transferring schools from where I currently go. The only nearby university with a Ph.D program in my field has a 40% transfer acceptance rate and I’m not too confident about chances as a result of that. The second closest university is one hour away from where I live. There is decent public transportation system where I am. The train has Wifi and tables. And a student ID allows me to ride it for free. I can study and do work during the commute and don’t need to worry too much about driving. If it matters, the commute is between Salt Lake City, Utah and Provo, Utah. Specifically to the University of Utah. I don’t have the money to move out of state. I also don’t own a car.

Depends upon how you use your time on the train. If the train is quiet & tables are available, you should be able to get a lot of work done during the commute from Provo to SLC.

But, I am a bit confused about your status. Are you an undergraduate student or a PhD candidate ? Or ?

P.S. Driving time from Provo to SLC is just 45 minutes; the train might take longer due to a stop or two along the route. An hour on the train can be very pleasant, relaxing, and productive. Hopefully, you can schedule all of your classes in four days.

Many folks in major cities around the country have one hour commutes.

Only you can answer this one my friend - if you are ok 2 hours each day then ok. But don’t forget you have to park. Then u have to get from the train to your destination. What if you have late night study groups ? Is there a train to get you home.

You say you cannot move out of state. How bout closer to the school you’d attend ?

Btw there are colleges with very low OOS tuition.

For me, I wouldn’t commute like that. But this is not about us. It’s about you. So it matters what you think.

You can often set up your schedule so that you aren’t going 5 days a week but only 2-3.

From where I live, many students take the light rail or bus to campuses around the metro area. It can take 30-60 minutes, and many do it every day (pass also included in student fees for all metro schools).

If you were to drive to school, you’d have to actually drive and then find parking and then hike to the classroom.

1 Like

Be sure to consider the full commute time…if the train time is 2 hours you still have to take the time and find a way to get from your house to the train and from the train to where you need to be on campus (and vice versa).


It looks to me like an hour from Provo to Murray on Frontrunner then another 30 mins on the Trax red line to the U. I don’t think Trax is easy to work on, maybe you can read a bit if you get a seat, but typing would be tough given how jerky it is. Best case is probably 2 hours each way door to door. That’s a very long commute unless you only have classes 2-3 days a week (having said that I did about the same in middle and high school and survived, so you can get used to it).


I’m an undergraduate student right now.

1 Like

Yes, it’s worth it. Where you are, your only good options are BYU and the U of Utah, pretty much. I don’t know if Utah Valley has what you seek, but they’re pretty low level. Westminster is another option but it’s small and expensive, plus the train doesn’t go straight there. I’d say that if you want the education (and the U and BYU are the two best options), and your only choice is the U, do it, even if it’s a two hour each way commute. You can work on the train. Try to chunk your classes into 2-3 days/week, as recommended above. But really, what’s your alternative? No degree? Working 60 hrs/wk at a crap job to pay for a room in a house in SLC, while going to school? Buy a car with money you don’t have? I’d take the commute to the U.


I second being honest about the actual time spent commuting. My parents used to tell people they commuted by ferry and the trip was 35 minutes, but the reality was that they had to drive to the ferry, park the car, walk to the terminal and the onto the boat, spend 35 minutes on the boat, then walk or catch a bus from the boat to their office. All in all, it was about 1.5 hours from when they left their house each day to when they actually arrived at their office, and the same amount going back. Our of three hours of commuting, the actually ferry rides each way made up less than half of time spent.

It might still be worth it, though, especially if you don’t have other options and no spouse/kids waiting for you to get home. I just agree with the idea that you need to really be looking carefully and honestly at the commuting time so you know what you’re getting into.

So funny opinions to me is where your used to living. In Chicago many, many students travel at least this long each way. If it makes it affordable and you can get work done and if you use your time wisely sure. No problem. As one stated, have a plan if you need to stay late and the train schedule. I also bet you if you go on the school’s Facebook group or the like that someone is actually on that train or driving to school. Connect with those people. Good luck with school.

I also lived at home and my bus ride to school was 45 minutes but it was social hour the whole way. Lol


I agree with others that it doesn’t sound too bad. I used to commute an hour and a half each way to work on a bus, and I didn’t mind because I could read without interruptions. My son commuted an hour and a half on the train each way to high school, and that was OK, although not great - it was a crowded commuter train and the initial plan of studying en route didn’t always work out too well. If you haven’t done a door-to-door dry run yet to see what the trip is actually like, that would be a good idea, to make sure there aren’t the kind of surprises people mention above.

1 Like

If I’m reading this correctly, you want to transfer, as an undergrad, into a college that has a PhD program in your field.

Is that because you plan to eventually apply to that PhD program? Or simply because you want to attend an undergraduate college that has a PhD program in your field because you think it will mean a better undergraduate education?

If it’s because you want to eventually apply, you should consider the fact that being in an undergraduate program may not give you much of an advantage when it comes to getting into a graduate program at the same school.

Regarding your question, the hour commute is doable, but comes with the risk of weather or mechanical delays. It would be much better to rent a room close to the school you’re attending.

But It sounds like you will either live somewhere free (like with parent(s)) or you have a family, job, etc. that makes the commute preferable or necessary. That makes sense and having free public transportation to and from school is huge.

I had a friend in graduate school who rented a cheap room near school but only stayed there a couple days a week or when he had a late night study session or social event with the department. Otherwise, he would make the drive home to his family. I had another friend who commuted from her parents’ house and would crash on peoples’ couches. That got old pretty fast.

1 Like

I can’t get a Ph.D at my current university though. The highest degree offered is a Master’s degree. So I will need to transfer eventually.

You seem to be misunderstanding the connection between undergrad and PhD programs. With the exception of some joint degree programs, they are two completely separate things. Students don’t normally get their PhD at the same place they go undergrad. You apply to PhD programs separately, just like you apply to undergrad from high school. Getting a PhD from a different school than your undergrad is not considered transferring, it is normal.


As me29034 points out, your undergrad and graduate degrees are separate.

You won’t be transferring into a PhD program. You will apply to a PhD program and that can be anywhere. The vast majority of people…I would say pretty much everyone…does it that way. I can’t think of one person in my doctoral program who had done their undergraduate work at the same school.

If you’re happy at your current undergraduate college, stay there and then apply to the PhD program that’s close to your home if that’s the one you want to go to. Apply to the other PhD program, too, if you want.

Again, attending a college doesn’t really give you an advantage for getting into graduate school at that same college. And, in fact, most people will tell you (me included), that it’s a really good idea to attend different colleges for undergrad and graduate school.

1 Like

I actually took the Frontrunner last time I was there from SLC to Provo; it was pretty quiet on both levels, and the wifi was fast. I got a good amount of work done. I would say go for it if the commute is the only thing holding you back.

1 Like