I know that it is common for professors to take sabbaticals and conduct research at other institutions, but I was wondering if this is something that is available to PhD students as well?

I ask because there is a professor at another university that I would like to collaborate with at some point in Australia (I'm coming from Canada) who works in my field of interest. I think that given the interconnection between research areas may have a direct benefit to my own dissertation or other research projects, but at the same time it could be easily just become a distraction from the dissertation.

I'd be curious to know if this is something that could happen while working on my dissertation (assuming proper discipline can be maintained to balance priorities) or if it is something that requires patience for later on in ones career?

For context, the field would be in mathematical biology / applied mathematics / bioeconomics / wildlife resources (from a math / modelling perspective)

  • As a grad student I spent a lot of time at an industry lab (although not international). And our lab hosted visiting grad students from overseas. But in both cases we had close collaborations in place.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 10, 2020 at 17:19
  • Ah, I should actually include the field information. In hindsight, this is probably very different across fields. Dec 10, 2020 at 17:25
  • How are you planning to fund your expenses? If you can get funding from e.g. NSERC then it may be possible.
    – academic
    Dec 10, 2020 at 17:47
  • Sometimes, Ph.D. programs have formalized exchange years. If that is not the case, then if you go abroad to collaborate with the reasonable expectation to come back with a paper in progress to include in your thesis, and funding is secured (most likely provided by the foreign collaborator), then this will probably be fine. To get someone interested enough in you to invite you will be the major step. If it were just for an amorphous “I’d like to study there,” I’d expect your faculty to not be pleased. Dec 10, 2020 at 17:57
  • 1
    You might be interested in NSERC funding for foreign study: nserc-crsng.gc.ca/students-etudiants/pg-cs/… Jan 10, 2021 at 3:50

1 Answer 1


This is really commonplace in my field (computer science). I spent every summer of my PhD interning somewhere.

I think that this is ultimately up to you and your advisor to figure out, as well as for your university/the host university to agree to (universities have rules regarding how much time you need to be on campus, and about double enrollments). If it's one semester then it should probably be fine. I don't know about the standards in other fields, but spending a whole year away is less commonplace (I would probably not agree to it myself as an advisor).

  • Yep, this is very common. I did 5 myself (a bit extreme...) and knew several students that would work as visiting researchers at other universities. Dec 10, 2020 at 22:02
  • I spent a couple of summer months and three winter break weeks at a US DoEnergy National Laboratory making connections and doing interesting stuff more related to what I do for work now than my dissertation. They just kind of let me do what I wanted.
    – Bill Barth
    Dec 10, 2020 at 23:01

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