I'm a master student at a university in Korea and going to graduate next June. By now, I think about doing PhD and have to make a decision on "stay" or "leave".


  1. My professor is very nice and quite well known in my university. The working conditions are good, PC, seats, no time restriction... (but everyone working like crazy).

  2. The professor really nice to me (actually us - foreign student), I was found a good scholarship for the master course ($1300/month) while the average is $700-600.

  3. I don't have to make much effort on searching for a PhD position (don't need to take English test like IELTS, toefl) and the salary is good in comparison with other universities in Korea.

  4. It's not really face to face talking but I agree with my professor to continue PhD there before I go to the graduate university. (Which I am most afraid of).

  5. My background is not good since we focus on publishing only very narrow field. I'm not very good at programming C/C++ as well, I use Matlab all the time.


  1. I'm not quite sure about another place but in my University, they focus on research not the graduate course. My background is quite weak.

  2. My professor is very very busy and not really good in my current topic. Almost every member in my team have to find their own way (follow the topic of their project).

  3. I feel like this environment is not very good for the PhD. The communication between Professor and student is like a one way communication. We obey what ever we are told. Not really two way communication or discussions.

  4. I'm 25, single, and want to do something.

Should I continue my PhD on the current Lab or looking for PhD position in some where else?

Ps: I'm looking for PhD position which related to signal processing and Compressive sensing. My current's topic is image/video compressive sensing.


Mar. 2014: Thank for your advice, I decided to stay for my PhD but more for my personal issue. For my current PhD it is little disappointed.

  • my support is lower than what I discussed with the professor before starting PhD. We agreed on $1000 but later paid me $800/month due to lab situation (the other PhD salary is still the same $1000 or higher). After asking many times, I now have to do an internship 1 day/week as an solution with $250 salary more.
  • The professor is very busy, even for checking my conference paper before sending.

Jul. 2015 Now I'm a little doubtful what to do.

  • The professor has no time for us and even for my journal paper
  • One PhD student left without a word

Advice for someone considering study in Korea: Master is enough, go somewhere else for PhD!

  • 5
    As to your first two reasons to leave--the PhD is a research degree, not a taught degree, and it is expected that the student and not the faculty advisor is (or rather, becomes) the expert in the area of the PhD. Your advisor is there to help, but not to lead. So if you do a PhD elsewhere, these two factors are not likely to change.
    – waiwai933
    Feb 24, 2014 at 1:32
  • You haven't mentioned the most important considerations: do you like the research where you are? Are you productive (in research) there?
    – ff524
    Feb 24, 2014 at 5:27
  • At first I dont like it since I have to switch from communication to image/video processing and the current topic requires mathematics. During the time, I feel like this topic - its a hot topic btw. For productive in research, I just have one paper in good conference (-in US), one with positive first round review, one just submited to the top conference in my field, and I'm currently writing one Domestic Journal (same level with a good conf.). In that case, I think I'm a little productive in research. Feb 24, 2014 at 5:45
  • 2
    Do not make the decision until you actually know what your options are. Apply widely, see where you're admitted, gather more information about those places, and then make a decision.
    – JeffE
    Jul 11, 2015 at 12:49
  • 1
    @AtenaNguyen so what happend?
    – SSimon
    May 21, 2018 at 5:35

1 Answer 1


Since you say you like the research where you are and you are fairly productive there, you can probably successfully get a PhD there. It sounds like your advisor is not perfect (busy, etc) but few advisors are "perfect" from their students' perspectives. And if you stay, you won't have to interrupt your research to apply to other schools and transition to a new group. Staying where you are is a "safe" choice.

If you go somewhere else, some of your weaknesses (which you are able to ignore in your current position) may be exposed, and you'll have to work on improving them. And you will probably meet new collaborators (especially if you go to anther country) and be exposed to new ideas and techniques that will be difficult to learn, but will make you a better and more capable researcher.

So the answer to your question depends on what you want to gain from your PhD: Do you want to get a degree and some nice publications? Then staying where you are sounds like the easiest way. Or do you want to improve yourself and broaden yourself as a researcher? Then you might be better off leaving.

Having said that - of course, even if you stay, you can still challenge yourself and improve yourself and your capabilities. But since you don't have to "prove yourself" in your current position, there's nothing forcing you to do so - you'd have to be exceptionally self-motivated and disciplined.

  • Sure, stay is a "safe" choice for me. There are several thing that I should update for the question. Firstly, my labs have 6 international students but all from my country. So, mostly we speak my mother language for discussion and not much discussion, co-work between my team and Korean team. In addition, If i go for PhD here, there would be 4 PhD in the same topic which is very dangreous for unique topic. (one of my senior have to switch his MS topic to new topic in hist PhD). And most PhD in my lab have to spent 5 years for PhD. Feb 24, 2014 at 6:40

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