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I'm about to finish my PhD (last semester) . at a top 100 university in the world. The University is located in Asia, but I'm not from Asia.

I have made some applications for Postdocs and Faculty Positions at high rank universities.

I got easily several acceptances for Postdoc at high rank Universities (again, world top 100), but zero acceptances for faculty positions.

Through personal connections I got recommended in a low rank (world top 3000) university (same country than previous), and got acceptance for Assistant Professor, the position includes a lot of lecturing.

The salary in the low rank university is slightly lower than the postdoc in the high ranking. But I was expecting that from a more stable and respectable position as Professor, I may be able to rise more grants and funds than from a Postdoc? Also I shall have more freedome to choose my research line? Also the faculty position seems to be linked to more stable inmigrative benefits than Postdoc that is a non-renovable contract of 3 years at most.

The question is: Should I choose the Assistant Professor position in a low rank university now or go for the Postdoc at a Top university and keep searching aftewards to become Assistant Professor at a better University?

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2 Answers 2

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This is mostly caveats, I'm afraid. There is risk in both, assuming that a career at a "low ranked" (your words) isn't acceptable to you long term.

The obvious first thought is that if you are getting numerous post doc offers from top ranked places then you are probably good enough to move to a permanent position at some "not so low ranked" place eventually. But there are no guarantees and it depends a lot on your field and on the marketplace in the next few years. Currently it is pretty terrible for most fields.

At least some of your regular faculty rejections are possibly due to a change in academia, especially in some fields. Post docs are now expected to provide "seasoning" of scholars before they get a permanent position. When I started out (long ago), postdocs were pretty rare and not "essential".

But, moving up from a faculty position at a "low ranked" place might be harder than moving to a high ranked place with a postdoc to a regular position. Not impossible. I've done it, actually, a couple of times (though not to the highest range of places).

So, it is risk, and depends on your willingness to accept risk. If the "low ranked" place is attractive to you for other reasons, it might be the safest bet. But you should also look at all other circumstances that the various options provide. Some places are more fun to live in than others.

Another consideration for the low ranked place is that, if it is small, there may be fewer opportunities for collaboration, though one can seek that elsewhere. And, truly low ranked places don't provide a lot of research opportunities or attract much grant money to support it.

I looked at a few worldwide rankings around 3000 for US universities. Not all are bad, but probably not the places to build a research career if that is your goal.

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    I cannot tell from this answer which option you are recommending. Mar 30, 2022 at 16:52
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: The answer lists various important factors that OP should take into consideration when making a decision. How could Buffy (or anybody else) give a concrete recommondation without knowing the OP, their situation and their preferences very well? Mar 30, 2022 at 17:03
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    @AnonymousPhysicist, I'm not recommending anything. It would be foolish to do so. It would take a long conversation with the OP to be able to actually recommend anything. As I said, mostly caveats.
    – Buffy
    Mar 30, 2022 at 17:09
  • @JochenGlueck Yes, and that's why the question was closed. Mar 30, 2022 at 20:29
  • @Buffy Defintely, thanks for your input. I decided to risk and go for the postdoc.
    – sujeto1
    Apr 7, 2022 at 16:03
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It depends on what your priorities are and what risks you are willing to take.

A faculty position presumably means a permanent position. This means you can stay there and have a stable job for a long time, potentially until retirement. If you want to live in the city/ country where the position is longterm or you have a family longterm stability can be quite valuable. It is possible to get a faculty position at a higher ranked university in a few years but difficult and relatively less likely.

If you career goal is a faculty position at a high ranking university a postdoc at a high ranking university is the better choice. However the postdoc is almost always non permanent and only lasts for a year or two. So if you take a postdoc position you will have to hunt for a job again soon. In most fields it is quite common to do several postdocs before you get a permanent position. The postdoc positions are usually in different cities, possibly in different countries. There is also a non trivial number of people who have one or two postdoc positions and then drop out of academia for some industry job. Often because a permanent position in academia is very hard to get. However if you look at the people that have faculty positions at top ranked universities they usually did postdocs at several different universities before they got their current position.

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  • thank you for your input, it's shame my question was closed.
    – sujeto1
    Apr 7, 2022 at 16:04

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