Pursuing a PhD Abroad: Benefits and Challenges

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In summary, the conversation discussed the differences in the structure and duration of PhD programs in different countries, particularly between Germany and the US. It was mentioned that in Germany, a Masters degree is required before starting a PhD program, while in the US, the Masters program is often integrated into the PhD and can take longer. The question was raised about the possibility of skipping coursework to reduce the time needed for a PhD, but it was mentioned that in most US graduate departments, this is not allowed. Some participants also shared their personal experiences with transferring credits from a Masters degree. Overall, it was noted that policies and requirements vary among different schools and departments in the US.
  • #1
SchroedingersLion
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Hey guys,

I am a German physics student in my masters studies. In Germany, we have a 3 year B.Sc. and a 2 year M.Sc. program, and both are needed to start the PhD, which usually takes around 3 to 4 years.
I wanted to do my PhD somewhere far away, but now I got to know that in the US, the PhD takes at least around 5 years, because it has most of the masters program integrated, which is why they usually start after the B.Sc.

Now I wonder if you can usually skip parts of the course work to reduce the time needed for the PhD in such a case?

If not, do you know countries where the PhD usually starts after the M.Sc. (just like in Germany)? Canada, Australia?

Best regards
 
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  • #2
The duration depends more on advisers and the policy of particular institutes than on the country, I think. In Japan, physics PhD starts after M.Sc. but the PhD students often don't get paid and it's probably difficult without significant preparation in language and culture.
 
  • #3
SchroedingersLion said:
Now I wonder if you can usually skip parts of the course work to reduce the time needed for the PhD in such a case?

Most graduate departments in the US that I have had any interaction with do not give incoming graduate students any benefit of the doubt when starting their program. In other words, you'll most likely have to retake most if not all of your coursework. I had a Masters from a well respected department, when I went for my PhD, I was only allowed to transfer in 2 classes and that was after I passed their comprehensive exam.

Frankly, it is a money making ploy and boosts their degree numbers.
 
  • #4
Dr Transport said:
Frankly, it is a money making ploy and boosts their degree numbers.

How does a more stringent requirement boost degree numbers? It seems to me that at best it's neutral, and can only go down if the requirements cause someone to drop out.

Money making for whom? As far as I can tell, anyone who could possibly benefit is far away from the people making the decision.
 
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  • #5
Dr Transport said:
Most graduate departments in the US that I have had any interaction with do not give incoming graduate students any benefit of the doubt when starting their program. In other words, you'll most likely have to retake most if not all of your coursework. I had a Masters from a well respected department, when I went for my PhD, I was only allowed to transfer in 2 classes and that was after I passed their comprehensive exam.

Frankly, it is a money making ploy and boosts their degree numbers.

I'm very familiar with a couple of universities here in the Chicago area. Both of them will give you more than just credits for 2 classes for your Masters degree. I think one of them even gives 24 credits towards one's PhD.

But these are Masters degree from an accredited US institution. I do not know how they will evaluate a Masters degree from an institution outside of the US.

I think the moral of the story is that here in the US, it very much depends on each individual school policy, or maybe even each individual department policy. If you want to know if your Masters degree will get transfer credits, then contact each individual school or look at each individual school policy.

Zz.
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50 said:
How does a more stringent requirement boost degree numbers? It seems to me that at best it's neutral, and can only go down if the requirements cause someone to drop out.

Money making for whom? As far as I can tell, anyone who could possibly benefit is far away from the people making the decision.

When students are on research contracts, the department gets the tuition paid by said contract, so having a student retake a bunch of courses is a profit maker.
 
  • #7
Dr Transport said:
When students are on research contracts, the department gets the tuition paid by said contract

The university gets paid. The department gets only a fraction. That's what I meant by the distance between the beneficiaries (the university) and the decision-makers (the department). This is also by no means universal: I am right now reviewing a grant proposal where the grant pays the student's stipend, and only the stipend - the university waives the tuition of all grad students. So there's no incentive to drag it out.
 
  • #8
At many schools you can either petition or test out of courses. I know a fair number of people (myself included) who did this for several courses.
 
  • #9
Hey guys, thank you for your answers, seems like it would have been better to go to the US without the M.Sc :D

radium said:
At many schools you can either petition or test out of courses. I know a fair number of people (myself included) who did this for several courses.
What do you mean by 'petition out'? Might be my bad English^^

Do you know about the trends in other countries? In Cambridge, UK, the PhD is said to last '3 to 5 years'.

Speaking of Cambridge, do you know anything of the possibilities to do the PhD in an elite university, like, is it easier to get a PhD position than say, a Bachelor position?
I thought the chances are close to 0, even with very good grades, but recently a colleague just started in Cambridge and he has worse grades than me. However, I know that his M.Sc. professor got him a semester abroad at the MIT a year before he finished his M.Sc. , so maybe there is a lot of strong contacts going on.

Regards
 
  • #10
SchroedingersLion said:
do you know anything of the possibilities to do the PhD in an elite university, like, is it easier to get a PhD position than say, a Bachelor position?

Why would you think that? The people getting PhDs are a subset of the people getting bachelors degrees.
 
  • #11
Vanadium 50 said:
Why would you think that? The people getting PhDs are a subset of the people getting bachelors degrees.

Because there should be less people applying for a PhD than for a Bachelor, because for a PhD you need to have a Bachelor AND you need to be highly interested and motivated. But this might be compensated by fewer PhD positions, so I don't know.
 

Related to Pursuing a PhD Abroad: Benefits and Challenges

What are the benefits of pursuing a PhD abroad?

Pursuing a PhD abroad offers a variety of benefits, including exposure to different cultures and perspectives, access to renowned universities and research facilities, and the opportunity to network with international experts in your field. Additionally, studying abroad can enhance your language skills and make you more competitive in the global job market.

What are the challenges of pursuing a PhD abroad?

While there are many advantages to pursuing a PhD abroad, there are also some challenges to consider. These may include cultural and language barriers, adjusting to a new academic system, and being away from family and friends. It's important to thoroughly research and prepare for these challenges before making a decision.

How do I choose the right university for my PhD abroad?

Choosing a university for your PhD abroad can be a daunting task, but there are a few factors to consider that can help narrow down your options. These may include the university's reputation and rankings in your field, the availability of funding and scholarships, the research opportunities and facilities offered, and the location and cost of living. It's also important to consider your personal preferences and goals when making this decision.

Can I transfer my PhD program from one country to another?

Transferring a PhD program from one country to another is possible, but it can be a complex and lengthy process. It's important to consult with your current university and potential new university to understand their policies and requirements for transferring. Additionally, you may need to obtain a visa and fulfill any language or exam requirements in the new country.

How can I finance my PhD abroad?

There are various options for financing your PhD abroad, including scholarships, grants, loans, and funding from your university or government. It's important to research and apply for these opportunities early, as they can be competitive. Additionally, some countries may allow international students to work part-time while studying, which can help cover living expenses.

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