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I am a freshman PhD student at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore doing research on Computer Networking. My question might appear a bit out of track in this forum, still I felt like putting it. My point is a lot of people say that I should have done my PhD somewhere in the US, as if doing PhD in a country itself will make you a great researcher. Albeit my university provides excellent infrastructaral facilities, my supervisor is very friendly (and sincere at the same time), the above issues depress me at times. Do they mean that I could get more value after my PhD from a US university (I am not talking about MIT, Stanford grade, there are plenty of not so good ones.) even if I do good research here in NTU, specifically when I apply for a postdoc/assistant professorship (which may be in the US?)

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One of the reasons I know many students are told to come to the USA is the large presence of English in the business and academic world. A great deal of science literature in all countries is being published in English, and sometimes it is easier to get those papers that aren't in your native language translated to English. Being bilingual in English and your native tongue is thought to be a major benefit. That plus the huge number of institutions helps to make the US a good place to study for foreign students. I'm guessing the sole fact that there are so many institutions here in the US is still why it is more commonly suggested as the English option? I'm not sure. There also seems to be a good deal more funding though different governments to send students here than for some other countries. I don't see why studying in Singapore would be a bad thing; as an American, that is a place that I'd love to go, even just for a few weeks. As far as electronics go, you're in a great place to learn. However, since I am not bilingual and because I know there are exceptional programs in my field here in the US, I'm staying here for PhD.

 

I would highly recommend applying for a post-doc in the US if you're feeling okay with being far from home a bit longer. There are places here doing some pretty cool things. :)

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Thanks for your elaborate reply. For language, I feel I have almost native command of English, and now a days, after being away from hometown for so long I am more comfortable in English than even my native tongue. Additionally, for your information, English is the official language of Singapore and my medium of communication since I don't know Mandarin. So it's absolutely easy to travel/study/work in Singapore even if you don't know any other language (unlike Japan & some European countries). The country is excellent if you can bear the humid tropical climate. Good luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am a freshman PhD student at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore doing research on Computer Networking. My question might appear a bit out of track in this forum, still I felt like putting it. My point is a lot of people say that I should have done my PhD somewhere in the US, as if doing PhD in a country itself will make you a great researcher. Albeit my university provides excellent infrastructaral facilities, my supervisor is very friendly (and sincere at the same time), the above issues me at times. Do they mean that I could get more value after my PhD from a US university (I am not talking about MIT, Stanford grade, there are plenty of not so good ones.) even if I do good research here in NTU, specifically when I apply for a postdoc/assistant professorship (which may be in the US?)

That's an excellent query. I too applied in NUS this year (still waiting to hear from from them) but in spite of its reputation, considered it mostly as the 'safety school' for a few reasons like the provision of funding is not very clear cut and separate application for funding and admission is bound to scare people away while the US schools are very clear about funding both during application, during interview, even in offer letter. The ranking of NUS and NTU are very high (so is of Honk Kong university of Tokyo University), but not higher than the mainstream US schools (even those that are not Ivy league). Also sometimes you have to sign some contract to work in Singapore after getting your degree in order to get the funding (at least that's what I heard). So these are very obvious reasons for making US the number one destination for international students. This lack of clarity regarding funding is not the feature of only Singapore. Most of the European and Australian universities are not very clear about funding either (except for the German or Austrian programs).

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think most of the US vs. elsewhere debate is based upon the assumption that an American PhD confers more prestige & quality than a PhD from anywhere else. I doubt that is true (hey, in 10-20 years we might all be publishing journal articles in Mandarin and doing our postdocs in the Far East, given the economic growth in China & India compared to the West), but perceived opinion is a powerful thing.

 

Some specific advantages to doing a PhD in the USA that I can think of include:

(a) It is probably easier to get your paper published in a high-impact American journal if you are studying at a well-known, American university.

(B) Because of that "do your PhD in the USA" mentality a lot of high-flying researchers end up in American universities for their PhDs & postdocs. If you want to network with future academic stars from around the world it will be easy to do so in the States.

© The work-culture in grad school is a lot more vigorous in the USA than it is in a lot of other countries. I can't speak for Singapore, but compared to the UK you'd be working much longer hours in the States. Longer hours --> more research done --> more publications/experience/data, at least in theory.

 

I

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Thanks for your answer. I know there is a stereotype of Europe being kinda laid back and less hard work even by equally skilled people. As for Singapore, I see the environment as an extremely competitive and healthy one although can't draw direct comparison with the US itself. Guess it depends a lot on particular student and supervisor.

Edited by swagatopablo
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