PhD in USA or Europe?

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Hello! I want to do a PhD in Particle Physics and I was wondering what is the difference between UK (and Europe in general) and USA doctorate programs. I see that at Oxford for example you can do a DPhil in 4 years while in USA you need at least 6 and I was wondering why is that. Is it more in depth in USA? Where should I focus on applying? The field I want to pursue is theoretical particle physics. I studied at an American university, but I am from Europe. My main issue is that I don't want to spend 6 -7 years on phD, if I can finish it in 4, as Oxford is as good as Caltech or Stanford in most of the rankings, so I want to understand the differences between the programs better. Thank you!
 

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  • #2
MathematicalPhysicist
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You can also finish before 4 years.

The time is the allocated time for your stipend, after that no more money...
 
  • #3
DS2C
US takes longer because it has no MS requirement to start. In the UK you need an MS before applying for a PhD program. So its not really shorter requirement. The US just advertises that particular amount of time because thats how long it should take for someone that is coming from an undergraduate. UK advertises their time of someone who already has an MS.
 
  • #4
ZapperZ
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Hello! I want to do a PhD in Particle Physics and I was wondering what is the difference between UK (and Europe in general) and USA doctorate programs. I see that at Oxford for example you can do a DPhil in 4 years while in USA you need at least 6 and I was wondering why is that. Is it more in depth in USA?
Please read this:

https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/the-us-graduate-school-system/

Zz.
 
  • #5
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US takes longer because it has no MS requirement to start. In the UK you need an MS before applying for a PhD program. So its not really shorter requirement. The US just advertises that particular amount of time because thats how long it should take for someone that is coming from an undergraduate. UK advertises their time of someone who already has an MS.
This is not true. Most of them are like that., but for example the DPhil at Oxford (and several other places) don't require a master. You do 4 years, the first one being research + courses, and the other 3 just research. So this doesn't really answer my question of why you need 2 more years in USA...
 
  • #6
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You can also finish before 4 years.

The time is the allocated time for your stipend, after that no more money...
I am not sure I understand what are you talking about. Where can you do less than 4, in USA?
 
  • #8
DS2C
The OVERALL length of time to complete a PhD after an undergraduate degree, in most cases, is the same. Neither is more "in depth" as you asked. Just had this conversation with a professor last week and in general the non-US universities require a masters before starting a PhD whereas in the U.S you can start after undergraduate completion. This is true for most cases, but you mentioned that not all of them in the UK are like that. So if you want specifics, why not ask the university? That link doesnt work for me either but it is a great write up on the matter.
 
  • #9
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The OVERALL length of time to complete a PhD after an undergraduate degree, in most cases, is the same. Neither is more "in depth" as you asked. Just had this conversation with a professor last week and in general the non-US universities require a masters before starting a PhD whereas in the U.S you can start after undergraduate completion. This is true for most cases, but you mentioned that not all of them in the UK are like that. So if you want specifics, why not ask the university? That link doesnt work for me either but it is a great write up on the matter.
I read about the program on their webpage, but it is similar with the ones in USA. First year classes, then research and you need to pick a mentor and all that. There is no place where they tell you what you do every year of research. My assumption was that the research in USA is more intense, as you need at least 6 years (I heard from my professors of people going up to 8-9 years as their experiments were not successful), but I have never heard of someone at Oxford to do more than 4 years of DPhil. So my question was mostly for people who did their phD in physics (any kind of physics) in USA or UK (preferably having knowledge of both) and can give me some insight that I can't find online (basically why you need at least 2 more years in USA).
 
  • #10
jtbell
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Sorry, but the link is not working.
It works for me right now.

In the US, a typical path is that students spend most of approximately the first two years with coursework and teaching introductory laboratories, as a teaching assistant. During that period they "hook up" with a research group and choose a dissertation advisor, and take a comprehensive exam that qualifies them for PhD candidacy. Then they become a research assistant and spend the remaining time working on their dissertation project, taking some more coursework (in my case it was one course per year), studying their research field, and helping their advisor or group with other tasks.
 
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  • #11
radium
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Usually what students would do if they wanted to study theoretical particle physics in the UK at a place like Oxford or Cambridge would be to start by doing a masters (part III at Cambridge for example) as their fourth year of undergrad and then go straight to doing a PhD. They don’t need to take courses because they already took them in their masters. Undergrad in the UK and Europe in general is also more specialized, since unlike in the US, you only take classes in your field of study.

If you were in the US, you may have taken grad classes during undergrad, but even so, theorists will generally spend at least the first year taking classes.

In the context of theoretical physics (it may be true for other fields as well), PhDs in Europe (or the UK at least) tend to be more structured than they are in the US. Some professors I’ve met from Europe said they liked the US system better since it gives students more time to develop independence. So while it may take the students longer to complete their PhD in the US, they will usually be much farther along in their research abilities than they would be if they had only spent four years.
 
  • #12
f95toli
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Don't make the mistake of thinking that different PhD programs are necessarily equivalent; they are not. The "rules" when it comes to what you need to do in order to get a PhD varies between countries and in many cases (especially in the UK) also between universities.
Here in the the UK a PhD can currently be 3, 3.5 or 4 years. If you do it over four years this may or or may not include a one year MRes; and you may of may not need a MSc to apply.

One important thing to remember is that whereas a short (3 year) PhD might be an advantage if you plan to work in industry (you finish faster and they generally won't understand exactly what you did anyway) it can be an disadvantage if you want to continue in academia since you are less likely to author/co-author good papers if you do a short PhD,. simply because you won't have enough time to get good results.

I did my PhD in Sweden and at the time this required a 4.5 year MSc degree to apply and the PhD itself was 4+1 year (5 years in total but you spent 20% of your time as a TA). And yes, someone coming out of that system will be "better" (and certainly more employable when looking for a post-doc) than someone who has done a British 3 year BSc+3 year PhD.
In fact, the fact the British students often struggle to find good post-doc positions abroad is a well known problem (and presumably one reason why it is now changing to a 4+4 year CDT based system )
 

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