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PhD Astrophysics, Europe or USA?

  1. Jul 4, 2013 #1
    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post! :)

    I want to ask you about the pros and cons of doing a PhD in Astrophysics in Europe or USA.

    First, I'm going to talk about my current situation. I got my bachelor's degree in physics two months ago, at University of Antioquia, Colombia. I have some experience in researching (presentations, posters, research groups, two ApJ papers, ...), so according to my former Professors it shouldn't be that hard to get admitted in different Universities and I hope it's true!

    Some of my former Professors have told me about the pros and cons of each option. According to them, with a PhD in USA I could get a job easily (academic or non-academic job, most of us know about the increasing difficulty to get academic jobs), this is why the USA Universities have better international ranks, more funds, etc. And to be honest, a PhD degree in Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley, bla bla bla, sounds really good :). The main issues with this option are: the PhDs are generally of 5 years!, and the scholarships (really fellowships) are ... scarce, so to speak.

    Now, respect to Europe and according to them again, job options are very scarce, inclusively non-academic jobs and probably I must return to Colombia, where a PhD in Astrophysics doesn't help to get non-academic jobs and the academic ones are scarce too. On the other hand, the scholarships use to be much better, and the PhD are generally of 3 years. For example, more specifically, is it a better option doing a PhD in 3 years and after 2 years of pos-doc in USA than a PhD in 5 years (USA)?

    So, with all of this in mind and appealing to your experience, what is "the best" option? I know that I must consider things like, what is the more productive University in my research field? Or where are the experts on the field? But I'm really confused and I must decide relatively quickly in order to start to do all the admission procedures. So, please just comment your opinion, I'll really appreciate it!

    With my best regards!


    Pd: Sorry for my English.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    That is true, but they usually require a master degree. Add both, and you are at 5 years again.
    Europe can be cheaper - the master degree does not cost much (~400-1500 Euro/year in Germany), and PhD positions are paid (enough to live from it). I don't think a PhD in Europe is worse than a PhD in the US.
  4. Jul 5, 2013 #3
    Thanks for your answer!

    That's true, but here in my local University, undergraduate physics takes 5 year unfortunately, so we must take courses relatively advanced (and sometimes useless), because of that some graduates students have achieved to get admitted in PhD programs in Europe directly.

    I don't think that either, inclusively in Europe are the most prominent experts in my research field! My only consideration about US is due to job opportunities, otherwise, I'd choose Europe without giving it a second thought.

  5. Jul 6, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Well, you can get a job in the US with a PhD from Europe, too (and vice versa).
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