Which of these two sentences is correct:
- I am studying PhD at the university.
- I am studying PhD in the university.
Should I use "at" or "in"? Or is there no difference?
In the above, both sentences are wrong. Inserting for a between studying and PhD would make sentence 1. correct. Sentence 2. would still be wrong, as in is the wrong preposition to use in this case:
This is not to say that the construction in the university is inherently wrong. There are certainly some contexts where this would be the correct form to use. For instance:
It is not always easy to come up with a rule to determine the choice between at and in. Some cases are clear cut, as in my first round of examples below. Others are not always so, as in my second batch of examples, for speakers tend to leave a lot of things implied in speech and in writing. Hopefully, you will be able to infer these rules from my examples.
In academic contexts, use at when referring to the institution in general or to a specific one. Note, however, that one would use in for graduate school or college (largely American context). The construction in university is also correct (largely British):
I should point out that in college and in university are rather colloquial constructions, but that's why they're used in everyday situations! In more formal contexts, it would be better to use at college/ at university.
More examples using school, department and faculty both explicitly and implicitly. Generally, in is used for department, while at is used for faculty:
NB: I did not look up information from any grammar book. These are just examples I came up with based on my experiences as a native speaker, general observations of usage, and what sounds right!
In the UK we'd be most likely to say:
Furthermore, the the would be dropped if we weren't emphasising a specific university.
"In the university" would usually be understood to mean "physically inside the university buildings".