Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why Did I Choose the US for my PhD?

So, I'm from Brazil, but I'm going all the way to the US for a PhD. Why? Some people think I'm doing a mistake. And maybe I am, and I should stay in Brazil.

I could very well do a PhD in Brazil. If I do my PhD abroad, to be back in Brazil after I finish my PhD, I am expected to face a few hurdles. One, my PhD will not be officially recognized until I go through a long and expensive bureaucratic process, with uncertain results and timetable. Two, I will not have developed a strong network with Brazilian schools, professors, and researchers. And that may hurt my chances of a job once I'm back.

However, while doing my master's thesis, I noticed that there are very few works published by Brazilian researchers about the subject I'm interested. My research interest is very strong in other countries, but not in Brazil. So, if I am to get a strong education, I should go abroad to learn from the experts.

But there are many countries in the world. Including many with strong Marketing PhD programs. But I want to go to an English speaking country, since that's the language I can talk. I don't see myself living in a country without talking the language. That excludes top schools in places like Denmark.

Among the main English speaking countries for a PhD, it seems that US and Canada follow a style of PhD that is different from UK and Australia. PhD in US and Canada takes longer (about 5 years) and includes a heavy coursework, while PhD in UK and Australia are shorter (about 3 years) with no coursework. There are exceptions and other differences, but those are some important differences between those styles. (update: I had a nice feedback on PhD in UK and Australia, posted here)

I don't think I'm ready to dive directly into my dissertation research. I think following a coursework will make a lot of difference to me. It will take longer, it will be harder, but I think I'll be a better researcher in the end if I do my PhD in America. But depending on your degree of experience with research, how prepared you are, and what are your goals, that may not be your case.

For me, it makes sense to try a PhD in America. I only applied to US schools. If I could go back in time, I would have also applied to Canadian schools. Top Canadian schools are very equivalent to top US schools, and they should be on my list too. By the time I realized that, I was already too deep into the process of applying to US schools.

So, I applied to Marketing PhD programs in the US because that's a country with a very strong history of publishing about my research interests (something I could not find in Brazil), it is an English speaking country, its PhD style seems to be better suited to prepare me to become a researcher, and I ignored Canadian PhD when I shouldn't,

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