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Programs Costs/Benefits of doing a PhD in another country (as an American citizen)

  1. Sep 25, 2012 #1
    I know this may have some wiggle room in terms of personal opinions and anecdotal evidence for one thing or another, but I was wondering what people here thought about doing a PhD in another country as an American (United States) citizen.

    I have been trained in a decent American public university for my physics undergraduate and I'd like to consider getting a PhD at a university in Europe, but one of my advisers recommended against doing so saying that "there's a reason people flock to American schools for grad school."

    Honestly, I think he may have a myopic view of the situation and I'm trying to diversify my feedback. It's my understanding that there are some phenomenal schools across the world and I am fairly certain that the top places to research a given field are not all in one country. I am not 100% committed yet, but I am strongly considering BSM phenomenology.

    I do *not* know if I will want to work in America after my PhD or in Europe, but where ever it is I would prefer a culturally dense location (it doesn't have to be the *biggest city, but I would like a serious symphony orchestra in the area, etc). It was sort of implied that it might hurt me getting a degree in Europe and returning to America to look for work, does anyone have experience in hiring and know this to be the case or have any other relevant experience with this?

    Also, assuming it is viable to go to another country to study...how should I investigate the university systems I am less familiar with? I have heard of the Ecole system in France...but I think I need to speak French. Similarly, I am very interested in a handful of major German universities...but I do not (yet) speak fluent German.

    Any and all advice / experiences you have to share would be awesome!
    Elwin
    [edited for a blatant grammatical fail...more may be present, sorry if they are!]
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2012 #2
    Speaking as a European citizen "flocking to the US for grad school"...

    PhD's work very differently in the old continent. A very large portion of schools require you to have a masters (which are for the most part paid out of pocket in the EU) before even considering you for a PhD, and thesis topics are generally predefined, so when you start your phd you know exactly what you'll be working on. Because of this, they don't normally last more than 3 years. On the bright side I think the stipends will allow you to have a higher standard of living than at most US schools that pay around $15-20k/year, especially in Scandinavian countries(at least 36000€ is what I've heard).
     
  4. Oct 2, 2012 #3
    Thank you for your response, I don't have a ton of resources to draw from so any information is appreciated. I would absolutely love to try living in Scandinavia if I could, I'd definitely need a few trial weeks in the winter to make sure I could handle it, though.

    Let me know if there's anything else that comes to mind that you think I should be aware of.
     
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