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Is a PhD in the USA worth for an european Master student?

  1. Oct 26, 2013 #1
    My name is Federico, a physics student from Italy who is thinking to apply to some universities in the USA for PhD program in theoretical particle physics.
    I have a couple of questions since I don't understend really well how the higher educational system works in the USA.
    I have already batchelor graduated in April 2012, and currently I am undertaking a Master of Science degree in Italy, from which I plan to graduate in mid July.
    Am I still eligible for applying for the PhD program?
    Also, how long does a PhD program usually take in the USA? (think for example as Stanford, Harvard, MIT or Berkley)
    I ask this because PhDs usually take 3 to 4 years in Europe, and are always attended by Master graduated students, while as far as I can understand in the USA usually one gets from the undergraduate straight to the PhD, which takes longer: up to 6-8 years.
    I am particularly concerned about spending/wasting the first couple of years of the PhD re-learning advanced topics (for example non abelian quantum field theories, introductory sting theory or supersymmetry) I do already know from the Master of Science.
    Could you tell me if this is the case, or if is it possible to shorten the PhD programs, for students who already have a Master degree?

    Thanks for the advices...
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2013 #2


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    Yes, most US programs will accept students with an MS in that field. You will be allowed to skip courses that you have already taken - if your department approves. In my case I had to bring in text books and tests, in addition to the official transcript and course descriptions.

    But you will be required to take additional courses - but if you are working on a PhD it will be certainly true that you love going to school!

    The average time for a PhD is around 5-6 years; I've only know a couple of people that finished in 4/4.5. Six years or more is common.
  4. Oct 26, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the clarification.
    Do you think it is fine to email the department befor applying to ask if they let already master graduated students to skip already taken courses?
    I really don't want to waste 2 years re-studying things I have already done in europe
  5. Oct 26, 2013 #4


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    Certainly - they will already have a policy on this. You may be able to find out online.

    When considering programs, be sure to include the University of Michigan.
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