6

Assuming I got a PhD in Computer Science from Oxford or Cambridge University, how would that affect my chances at becoming a professor at a top US university versus getting a PhD from a top US institution? Assuming also that I had US citizenship?

  • 7
    Career development all the way to tenure is not a given fact, just because you got a PhD. Let alone a professorship at a "top" uni. If I were in your shoes I'd be more worried with put the hours in, doing the hard work... then when you have a solid profile, don't let people use where you come from or where you got your PhD as an excuse to come in between you and your career goals. – posdef Nov 13 '13 at 23:19
  • 3
    In what (sub)field? – JeffE Nov 14 '13 at 1:42
  • 12
    This is a bit orthogonal to the OP's real question, but going from the US to the UK for a Ph.D. is a often a terrible idea unless you get a masters first. The US and UK systems are not set up to be compatible; typically British schools expect students to get Ph.D.s much faster than in the US in a way that US BA's don't prepare students for (and from anecdotal evidence, British BA's often don't either). – Ben Webster Nov 15 '13 at 3:22
  • Sound advice from @BenWebster, I concur. I also think it's a terrible idea to go from the UK to the US for postgraduate study, in general. Not only are the two systems virtually incompatible, but there's a lot of mutual ignorance between the two. (Sadly, even more ignorance of the British system in the US, I would say.) – Noldorin Apr 24 '14 at 22:13
15

I am an American who earned a Ph.D. at Cambridge University. A degree from Cambridge or Oxford is well-respected in the US - I was warned to avoid other UK universities as they are not as well known in the States. The one caveat is that all of your network for post-docs and jobs will be in the UK, not in the US. It was an amazing experience though so I would not want to discourage you!

| improve this answer | |
  • 7
    I would like to add that the two specific universities mentioned are largely regarded in the US as on par with the Ivy League. – Jonathan Landrum Nov 14 '13 at 17:27
  • 2
    Upper Ivy league, that is (Harvard, Yale, Princeton). The converse is more or less true as well. – Noldorin Apr 24 '14 at 22:13
5

In mathematics, I would say that British Ph.D.s are very well respected in the U.S.A. Probably more so than many US universities. The US citizenship is a plus, because it means that the university can avoid the hassle of H1 visas and Green Cards. But a major research university will probably not reject you if you don't have US Citizenship.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Just wanted to point out since no one else has yet. US PhDs are about 5 years, and UK ones are 3-3.5. Given this factor alone, US PhD holders are slightly more likely to have more publications and more teaching experience, which can make them competitive in the UK market. Inversely, a UK PhD holder may (depending on their work) have less papers/less teaching experience than the [presumably American] competitors for US postdocs. Again it depends on the person and the university, but it is a factor. – la femme cosmique Feb 7 '16 at 21:24
5

My guess is that it the effect on academic employment would be relatively small compared to other factors, as pedigree is typically neither necessary nor sufficient for obtaining employment. Arguably, department reputation will matter more, but what you do while you are there will matter far more than that.

It might be helpful to your decision to note that several UK universities are very well respected in the US and elsewhere: Imperial, UCL, KCL, Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, to name a few. Are Oxford and Cambridge the only UK institutions with respected CS departments?

| improve this answer | |
  • 6
    I think this depends a lot on your field; in math, I think Imperial would be seen as comparable to Oxford and Cambridge, but obviously, that's quite different in the humanities where Imperial doesn't even have programs. The others you listed I wouldn't put up with the top US schools, but would look better on the CV than plenty of respectable US schools. – Ben Webster Nov 15 '13 at 3:19
  • 2
    For CS, Imperial tends to be seen as somewhat better than Oxford. But generally the name Oxford and Cambridge will sound better than any other UK University irrespective of the actual course. – Jonathan. Dec 7 '13 at 9:03
  • In 2001, when I was applying to do a post-career PhD in the US, one of the professors who read my CV commented on my 1970 bachelor's degree in mathematics from Imperial as a point in my favor. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 5 '17 at 17:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.