5 Reasons You Should do Your PhD Abroad

Leestijd: 4 min · Door Academic Positions

Have you ever considered doing your PhD abroad? There are several major benefits to going abroad to earn your doctorate.

More Opportunities

As you start to narrow down your research interests, you may find that there are only a small number of universities in your home country that have PhD programs in your field or faculty that work in your research area. Applying internationality will give you more options in terms of both programs and potential supervisors. Additionally, if your research requires access to certain museums, sites, libraries, archives, or equipment, studying in another country might facilitate your access.

Better Funding

It may be significantly cheaper to do your PhD abroad. Tuition fees vary widely across the world, especially at the doctorate level. PhD students in Germany and Sweden for example do not have to pay tuition fees. In addition to saving money on tuition, you could actually get paid to do your PhD if you study overseas. In many European countries (including France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Norway) PhD students are seen as employees rather than students and so they are paid a monthly stipend. This is markedly different to the US or UK where tuition waivers and stipends are not guaranteed and often only available to top students or at top schools. Additionally, you might qualify for certain scholarships from your home country or in your destination country that are specifically for students studying internationally.

Shorter Time to Degree or Better Structure

While the basic elements of a doctoral degree are the same around the world, every country has a slightly different program structure. The best structure for you might not be the one in your home country. 

  • Time to degree-Many European PhDs take three years to complete compared to five years or more in North America.
  • Teaching-In some countries, PhD candidates are required to gain a certain number of hours of teaching experience, while in others they focus entirely on their research projects.
  • Coursework-Most PhD students have to take a course or two during their degree, however in the US and Canada students typically must do two to three years of coursework before starting their dissertation research. While this gives them a more in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, it also increases the length of the doctoral program.
  • Lab rotations-In some countries it is common for first year PhD students to rotate through two to three labs in their first year to decide which lab they want to do their dissertation work in. Students who already know what they want to research might prefer to start working on their project and should look for PhD positions that are project specific. Students who don’t know what they would like to research would benefit from a program that has students rotate through multiple labs their first year.


Widen Your Network

One of the perks of doing an international PhD is the chance to broaden your network by making connections in a new county. On a personal level, you will get to meet people and make friends from all over the world. Doing a PhD internationally can also help you if you want to work outside of your home country after earning your degree.

Embrace a New Culture

Studying internationally will allow you to gain a global perspective. You’ll be exposed to new ideas, teaching styles and academic cultures. You might even get the opportunity to learn a new language. While English is the lingua franca of research, it may not be the local language. Learning the local language will not only help you navigate your new country, it could also help you in your future job search. Many universities offer free or significantly discounted language courses for their doctoral students.

Door Academic Positions  ·  Gepubliceerd 2019-02-12

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