I have a dilemma about doing a marine science research degree in Queensland Australia vs in the USA (california or florida). I have been accepted to schools in both countries and offered scholarships to pay for my studies. I have personally spoken with advisors that I would work with from both countries and both have great projects that I am interested.

I am just wondering if anyone has insight into the quality of life and research at either location?

I am also concerned about the strength of a PhD from Australia if I wanted to go back to the US to do a postdoc?

Thanks for your input!

  • 1
    One word: The Great Barrier Reef. Jan 24, 2014 at 15:02
  • Have you talked to these potential advisors about where their alumni have gone? Might give a hint...
    – Matthew G.
    Jan 24, 2014 at 16:22
  • Mattew G - yes I have looked into their alumni and for the most part each advisor has had some successful alumni as well as some not as sucessful (when it comes to publishing research in higher impact journals). I am more curious if anyone from the US has had a personal experience with doing a PhD in Australia? Thanks for your advice!
    – user11182
    Jan 24, 2014 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


Quality of life is very subjective. If you like nature, you will struggle to find the same quality of life in the U.S. as you do in Australia. If you like big bustling cities, then your quality of life will be better in the U.S. than in Queensland (Brisbane is lovely, but hardly bustling).

People care more about the strength of the school in the Ph.D. subject than they do about the university overall. If you intend to stay in marine science, it doesn't really matter whether you get a Ph.D. from e.g. James Cook in Australia or many places in the U.S.. If you're not sure marine science is where your heart is, a university with a bigger name overall will help you. Australian universities are competitive internationally; it really depends what your choices are. (U.Q. is not, say, Stanford, but I don't think there's anything in Florida that would really give you a big edge over U.Q.)

  • Thank you very much for your response. I definitely love nature and no matter which school I end up choosing there will be components for outdoor marine research. For the PhD I was trying to look more into the actual advisors rather than the school itself, and I am convinced that all of my potential advisors would be useful and help put me on the right track, which is another reason this is such a difficult decision. The Australian school is James Cook University in Townsend, do you know any more specifics on that school? Thanks again!
    – user11182
    Jan 24, 2014 at 20:58
  • @user11182 - Townsville, you mean. Other than knowing that JCU has an excellent marine biology program (and not much else that is truly excellent), I know very little about them. Townsville isn't my favorite city in Queensland (a little too dry to be exotic, a little too hot to be comfortable), and a little too rural to really appreciate intellectual endeavors (beyond the university). But it's growing increasingly attractive (and large).
    – Rex Kerr
    Jan 24, 2014 at 21:10
  • yes that is what I meant sorry... thanks for the information about it! I have found that their undergraduate marine biology program is in high regard, but I could not find many testimonials on their higher research degrees.
    – user11182
    Jan 24, 2014 at 21:28
  • @user11182 - I'm not a marine biologist so I can't say personally.
    – Rex Kerr
    Jan 24, 2014 at 22:08

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