Earn your graduate degree abroad.
Choosing to graduate abroad can prove to employers that you’re flexible and culturally mobile. Many employers also think studying abroad gives you great maturity and a breadth of experience that makes you stand out from other candidates. The job market is generally highly competitive, and studying abroad may potentially enable your application to stand out from the pack. With the current economy, it is often helpful to do whatever you can to attempt to distinguish yourself among your peers.
You could gain confidence by learning the ropes in a foreign city. Your time in a new environment may also make you more independent and cultured. Your ambition could help you become a global citizen, and you will most likely learn new communication skills—both cultural and interpersonal. In our global economy, an awareness of the wider world outside your home country can go a long way. Just think of all those international businesses looking for clued-up employees, with an understanding of different cultures and how the world works.
Guide to PhD abroad.
A good PhD should push the boundaries of its academic field. Sometimes that means going further afield as a student, which is why thousands of postgraduates choose to study their PhD abroad each year: seeking out the best expertise and facilities for the doctoral research they want to do.
You’ll have plenty of options to choose between for an international PhD, from historic universities in Europe and America to ambitious and high-tech institutions in Asia or Australasia.
Wherever you’re thinking of for a PhD abroad, our guides will help get you started with clear and up-to-date information on universities, fees, funding options, application requirements and student visas.
Step 1. Reasons you should do your PhD Abroad
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. In addition to saving money on tuition, you could actually get paid to do your PhD if you study overseas. In many European countries 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. However, we recommend you to ask advise from our education’s counselor.
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.
Step 2. Location
PhD study in Europe. Europe’s historic and world-renowned universities have always been home to leading scientists, artists and thinkers. You’ll be welcome to follow in their footsteps as a PhD student.
Modern international students often pay surprisingly low fees and study within generously funded higher education systems, with ground-breaking research opportunities supported by the European Union’s flagship Horizon 2020 scheme.
The diversity of opportunities in Europe is matched by a robust system of qualification recognition and credit transfer, meaning that your degree will be internationally recognized and accepted. European PhD programs often also include a range of additional training and development opportunities (this, after all, is the continent that invented the modern doctoral degree).
You can also learn more about the European Higher Education Area, ECTS credits, PhD fees and Visa requirements.
PhD study in America. The appeal of the USA alone makes North America the world’s most popular study destination, with thousands of international students attracted to its prestigious graduate schools and PhD training programs.
But there’s more to PhD study in America than the United States. Canada is also a very attractive option, with liberal, multicultural campuses and generous post-study visa options for graduate students. Elsewhere the universities of Brazil and South America are emerging as international research centers in their own right.
You can also learn more about the differences between European and American PhD programs before applying.
PhD study in Asia. From distinctive and diverse cultural traditions to cutting-edge technology and urban innovation, Asia has plenty to offer as a venue for PhD research.
Regions like Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea are already well-established as higher education hubs, whilst countries like China, Saudia Arabia and India are seeking to expand their university systems – and the numbers of international students they host.
PhD study in Australasia. With globally-ranked higher education systems and unique research opportunities across a range of subject areas, it’s no surprise that Australia and New Zealand are popular destinations for postgraduate study.
Both countries are keen to welcome international PhD researchers, and this is reflected in their visa arrangements and funding schemes.
Step 3. Doctorate Degree Programs
Before you send off your applications for your desired PhD programs, consider the following things that you might need take time to prepare:
oA statement of purpose
oYour university transcripts (undergraduate and/or graduate)
oGRE/GMAT Test results
oTOEFL score of 6.0 or higher for English taught programs
oThree letters of recommendation
oThree to four years of academic research or involvement
Do you need publication to apply for a PhD program?
The short answer is no. Publications are not required to apply for a PhD. The longer answer is that the admissions committee wants to see that you have the potential to become an excellent researcher. While publications are one indication of this, they are not the only way to show that you have strong research skills. Presenting at undergraduate conferences, volunteering in a lab, winning research awards, or doing an industry internship also show your research aptitude. If you are involved in research as an undergraduate or Master’s student that leads to a publication, think of it as a nice bonus rather than a need-to-have.
There are two major ways to earn a doctorate degree abroad; you can apply for a full-time PhD programs directly through a foreign university or you can apply for an exchange program to study abroad for as short as a summer session or as long as a year.
It will generally take about three years to earn your doctorate degree abroad. Your semesters of coursework will build toward your final dissertation, which is an in-depth research presentation that will discuss, analyze, and support a theory you select with the university’s approval. Summers will still belong to you during most doctorate degrees, so you can use this time to get some extra work done to get ahead for the next semester, or take it easy and catch up on traveling. You could also spend the summer at a new location digging deeper into your research and PhD studies.
After you spend your hard earned money and three to four years of your life earning a PhD abroad, then comes the question, “Where are you going to work?” Doctorate degrees will open doors in the following fields, among others, government, consulting, academia, health, finance, law, and the nonprofit sector.
Before you make a decision, be sure to check out all the scholarship opportunities available for students who decide to earn a degree abroad too.
Step 4. Apply and prepare
Applying to earn a degree abroad will take a few more steps than your run-of-the-mill application to a local university. The most important step for prospective students is to express their interest in the program and touch base with an advisor early on.
Keep conscious of application deadlines and requirements, as degree programs abroad will vary in their prerequisites and demands. Some colleges/universities may require proof of English fluency (such as IELTS, or TEOFL), and others may need proof of financial standing.
Don’t get bogged down in the paperwork, just chip away at it piece by piece!
Once you’ve been admitted to your dream college/university, get all of your ducks in a row back home to prepare for your international move. Sort out your bank account, apply for the proper visas, buy some good walking shoes, pig out on your favorite meals, et al. After classes begin, try hard to not be too distracted by the cultural sights and sounds surrounding you. You are there to study, after all!