I am completing my PhD in Chemical Engineering at one of the best universities in Latin America. I was also a visiting scholar at a university in the US during my PhD studies. However, Brazil has recently had one of its highest budget cuts in research grants and scholarships. Many academics are leaving Brazil because of it. I have seen people with a PhD degree from Latin America coming to the US to work as postdoc researchers, but I have not yet seen one hired either as a researcher or on a tenure-track position.

After completing my PhD in Brazil, I am considering applying for a PhD program in the US because I have heard that it may be tough to find an opportunity in the US holding “only” a PhD degree from Latin America. Does it make sense, or do I have a misconception on that? Would it be wise to apply for a second PhD in the US, after having a PhD degree from another country?

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    – Sursula
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 3:42
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    – Sursula
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 3:42
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    Does this answer your question? Is doing two PhDs a good path?
    – Sursula
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 3:43
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    Actually it is also hard to get an opportunity in the US if you hold a US doctorate. You won't really learn anything new. Why waste the time? Apply for positions.
    – Buffy
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 10:42
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    "I have seen people with a PhD degree from Latin America coming to the US to work as postdoc researchers, but I have not yet seen one hired either as a researcher or on a tenure-track position." Unless you have statistics to back this, you have only anedoctal evidence. It is however true that in some fields to be a researcher you have plenty of chances if you are an US citizen (national lab, federal bodies, etcetc) ... but the issue is not the where you got your PhD.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


Working toward a US doctorate seems to me like a sub-optimal plan. You already have a good degree (or will soon) and it has taught you what a doctoral program is supposed to teach. I see the following issues.

You might not get accepted to a doctoral program, not because you aren't worthy, but because slots are limited and others have greater need of what any program offers.

You delay your career by about three years without really getting much of any benefit other than some association with a US institution. But you already have that from your visiting scholar days.

The future is unknown and there is no guarantee that it will go easier for you in a few years. These are hard times for new scholars in US across many fields, though I know nothing of yours. Public support for education here is also weak, but perhaps not as bad as Brazil currently.

My suggestion is that you apply for whatever positions you are qualified for wherever you can (US or other). See what sort of reception you get. Your writing implies you are fluent in English so that won't be an issue.

When you do a search, make it a broad one. The US has a lot of colleges and universities. The all have somewhat unique missions. Don't focus only on "top" schools, which is an ill-defined concept in any case.

Being a bit "different" can be a strength if you make it so.

Try to exploit relationships in US that you already have from past associations. Get good letters of recommendation from professors/colleagues. Be clear about your career plans.

Think of another degree here only as a (deep) backup plan, not a real goal. The advantage it would give is, IMO, minimal.


Try expanding your options, and apply to institutions in other countries. They're all good, and in terms of pay or quality of life, some could be much better than the US. Places such as Canada, Australia, Europe, or the Middle eastern gulf states (UAE, Qatar; contrary to popular belief they're great places to live).

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