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Erasmus Mundus vs UIUC


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Hello Everyone,

I'm an International Applicant for the MS Bioinformatics at UIUC and currently working as a junior faculty at my Alma mater. My employer would fund my MS at UIUC on the condition that I secure the PhD funding immediately after MS and then work at my institute for 3 years. My seniors are also enrolled at UIUC with the sponsorship from my institute, but they're of the view that PhD funding is quite scarce at the moment.

I also got accepted for euSYSBIO MS in Systems Biology program at Erasmus Mundus with a scholarship nomination at KTH Royal Institute of Technology for the first year and my preference for the second year is Aalto University, Finland. If I accept the Erasmus Mundus scholarship, would my chances for pursuing PhD increase in universities with ranking higher than UIUC?

Which of the two choices should I opt for since my ultimate goal is PhD? I find UIUC to be the most appealing option as in two years the funding situation might improve. However, I think an Erasmus Mundus Nomination is an honor itself. Either of the options, do not guarantee me a spot in PhD but I'm ambivalent towards both the choices. Help!

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Congratulations on your Erasmus Mundus nomination! I cannot speak to the euSYSBIO MS in Systems Biology program, but I did complete an Erasmus Mundus degree in Food Science Technology and Nutrition. I had a fantastic experience, and I am finishing my PhD at a US institution now. I will advise you that Erasmus Mundus is not well known in the United States. That can be both advantageous and a disadvantage at the same time. The advantage is that no one needs to know any of the weaknesses of your program. For students from the US, international studies are a huge advantage. For students who are not US citizens, studies in Europe would still be considered good. The only real disadvantage of EM not being well known in the US is that not everyone realizes how big an honor it is!

Regarding your decision. I am glad that I participated in the EM degree program. I learned a lot just by living in several European countries, interacting with students from different cultures, and from teh courses offered. The degree was not nearly as demanding as most MS programs in the US. For the students for whome English was not their first language; I don't think they got enough feedback on their writing skills. In addition, I understand that most EM degrees are course based with a research portion at the end. Your academic weaknesses may not be identified and corrected as quickly as they would in a US based MS program. I whitnessed this in a girl from Indian who was nearly finished with her Erasmus Mundus program, came to work in my lab in the US for her research program, and was completely unprepared.

If I were you, I would apply to the program at UIUC. I would see what decision they make. This will give you an opportunity to get feedback on your previous studies, academic strengths and weaknesses, etc. I think it would be valuable if you were accepted, to ask if you could defer the acceptance for a PhD after you complet the EM degree program if that's what you decide. I'm sure you will succeed either way!

Best regards!

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Thanks! The feedback I'm getting from my seniors is almost the same as yours that UIUC would be the better option of the two. As far as your suggestion regarding deference of admission is concerned, I have applied to the MS program at UIUC, so if I had directly applied for a PhD I might have requested for it to be deferred. But yet again, thanks for your reply.

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