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Does a Canadian doctorate pose professional risk?

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Hi, I've been accepted to the University of Toronto's Department of Political Science. I'm a comparativist/ Russianist. I like the program a lot but have some hesitations about pursuing a Canadian degree in a US-centered market. I've been accepted to American programs but find Toronto's to be a good fit and want to examine its pros and cons.

Here are my basic assumptions:

- Canadian schools lean qualitative. US schools lean quant. Both offer both.

- Job-market aside, Toronto can place TT and post-docs just as an American university can. (The issue is the visa.)

Here are my questions:

- Will a Canadian PhD pose professional risk In an American market?

- Will I (as an American citizen) be eligible for federal and private grant opportunities to the same degree as if I were at an American university?

Thank you for your insights.

Edited by MeowMeowMeow
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- Will I (as an American citizen) be eligible for federal and private grant opportunities to the same degree as if I were at an American university?

Being not in your field, I can only answer this last question. I would say both yes and no. The technical answer is "no" though.


I would say "yes", because most Canadian schools (including U of T political science) will fund domestic and international students to the same minimum level: http://politics.utoronto.ca/graduate/financial-support/. Note that you will be paid at minimum, a stipend of $31,400 because you will have $16,400 in tuition and fees, leaving you with at least $15,000 take home (Canadian students are paid $22,400 because they have $7,400 in tuition and fees, leaving them also with $15,000 take home). This usually means that departmental funding or school funding will supplement whatever external awards you may not be able to get as an international student.


However, I would also say "no" because there are definitely many awards that are only available to Canadians. I remember seeing many of these when I was in a Canadian school (awards that span all fields). I also know that many American sourced awards are only for Americans studying in the US. I think the biggest/most common award you will apply to at Toronto will be the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS). It is a provincially funded award that used to be administered provincially, but starting this year, the province simply provides some amount of money to each School, and then the School decides how to distribute the award between its own students/applicants. You would basically be competing with other U of T students (from all programs) for the money. When it was provincially administered, there was a quota on how many international students may win the award but I am not sure if that still exists with the new school-centered system.


For the OGS, the deadline was Feb 24 2014 for your program, so if you didn't already apply to it, you missed it this year. Note that most Canadian schools will also require all of their students to apply to all awards possible so starting next year, you will have to apply to the OGS each year. In my Canadian MSc program, winning a OGS means an increase in stipend of about $3000 above the minimum funding level. But with your increased international fees, I am not sure if you winning a OGS will mean you will get any increase in funding (i.e. they may replace your department/school sourced top-up for international fees with your OGS money). 


You will not be eligible for the national level awards from the SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), similar to the NSF but focussed on Social Sciences/Humanities only. The U of T financial support page mentions many department and school-funded awards, and usually these awards do not care if you are Canadian or not. You will be limited when you seek awards from external sources though.


Hope that made sense/was helpful. If you are seeking to move into Canada permanently, note that, unlike the US, Canada does have an immigration pathway for PhD students (you can apply to become a permanent resident as early as after 2 years in the PhD program [if you meet other criteria] and as late as 1 year after PhD graduation). But given the context of your question, it sounds like you want to find jobs in the US in your field (which I have no idea about!) Good luck :)

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Hi Takeruk, thank you for this informative answer! I am actually a Canadian permanent resident so may be eligible for some of these federal opportunities. At any rate, it's so helpful to see them clearly written out like this.

I am curious, also, about American opportunities. For example, I recall trying to apply for a Summer FLAS award back when I was doing my undergrad at McGill and not being eligible, per McGill being a Canadian institution. Wondering if anyone's had any experience with this funding juggle and whether it is worth it?

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While I don't know the particulars of how the Political Science department is viewed abroad, I'm inclined to say that University of Toronto's reputation is strong enough to serve you well in an American job market. If you were looking at a different school in Canada, my advice would probably be different, and I had to decline one offer for just that reason. University of Toronto is an internationally recognized school, though. (You'll find most people in your cohort will know what place UofT has in the global rankings.) I got a Master's degree from them, and I have found that it opens a lot of doors. Aside from that, the experience was wonderful! I would have loved to stay and do my Ph.D. there.

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