Go to Hong Kong for PhD vs. stay in Europe for Masters

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Hi everybody, I have been thinking about this topic for weeks, without getting a definitive answer...

I am a physics student in Heidelberg, Germany, just graduated with my Bachelor. I have worked on a research project in Hong Kong (from which I'll likely have my first publication) and have a chance to continue for a PhD there directly. The Prof is very well known in his field and I think is very supportive and the working environment is good. (Of course I also think the field is pretty cool). So generally it sounds like a very good plan to me, I also know several recent graduates from this group who got good post-doc or industry positions in Europe/Asia pretty soon.

However, the "name" of the university of course is not on par with the top schools in US/UK(/CAN).
If there are chances, I would like to stay in academia for a bit after a PhD, if not go industry at some point. Also, I would actually really like to move to Canada at some point in my life (best get permanent residency or citizenship over there). So I was wondering if doing this PhD now in HK would be a limiting factor to any of those career/life plans or if it would be better to stay in Germany for the Master and then get a PhD in Canada (but then of course, I would start from scratch).

I hear many different opinions, some say its good to get going with my academic career as soon as possible, especially if the Prof is well-known and I already can (co-)publish a paper there, some say the name of the uni is not a perfect starting point, people will prefer to hire from a Uni in Europe/North America.

My feeling was it probably does not matter so much as pro/con arguments are balanced, but I was wondering if anybody thinks there will be a huge difference for future career chances? Thanks for any opinions!
 

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Choppy
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It's difficult to make a call on something like this. Generally, in my experience, a university's name doesn't seem to carry the weight that some people seem to ascribe to it. What tends to matter the most is what you accomplish during your PhD, as well as your supervisor's reputation and connections, not to mention your own ability to network. So you want to choose a PhD based on where you think you're going to perform well and accomplish the most.

That said, if your goal is eventually to come to Canada, doing a PhD here is more likely to generate an academic network here.
 
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Thanks for your reply, that already helped a lot!

So from your experience, its more about my work and accomplishments and network... However, I heard people saying that it is still possible to get a Post-Doc after a PhD in many places if you do good work. Is that always an option, or not knowing anyone (in Canada as example) would make it much harder to get to this point?
 
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Choppy
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If you do good work, I don't think the fact that you're coming from a university in Hong Kong specifically would be much of a disadvantage. That said, it may be unlikely that people in Canada will have heard of the specific school, and there is an advantage to residing within the country in job competitions.

And just because you've already put in some time on a project there doesn't mean that you're going to be that much further ahead, if that's the driving factor for you. You're going to have to climb a learning curve for your PhD anyway. What would make the difference, for me, is if you really, really like this project and this professor and see a bright future for yourself in that work.
 

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