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French student looking for general information about PhD in the US

Clement Dufour


Hi :-) !

If everything goes well, next year I’ll have my Master’s Degree in Particle Physics. So I’ve started looking for information about PhD in particle physics, in the US .

Why in the US ? Because there are almost no PhD in this field of study in France; in the contrary there seems to be more opportunities in the US.

I’ve noticed that there are big differences between PhDs in the US and in France. When you want to study a PhD in France, you have to apply (quite similarly as a job application). You check official databases which list all PhD openings. Every PhD opening specifies a subject, which will be the subject you'll work on, during your whole PhD if you're selected.

In other words, you know in advance on which subjet you will work before applying, and your PhD consists in researching, and preparing your dissertation on this subject. You do not have to follow courses.

But in the US, it seems different, as it usually takes several years before you can work on your dissertation. So the first years of a PhD in the US look more like a french Master’s Degree, and I would really prefer not studying another Master’s Degree, again, before working on my dissertation ;)

After having spent a lot of time researching, it seems to be that the only way to apply for a PhD in the US, is through university websites, isn't it ? But then, from what I've understood, it's not possible to choose your PhD subject, in advance, right ?

So my question is (I know that it may seem to get off the beaten track) do you think that it could work if I send my student files (including my academic results, resume, etc.) to a researcher, a professor.. So that I could choose with him/her my PhD subject before applying ? And then, if I'm selected, directly start working on my dissertation without having to follow courses ? (as if I had already passed my oral candidacy or similar exam that PhD students have to take in the US, in order to work on their dissertation).

Thank you very much for your attention.


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