I am originally from India, currently a PhD student in Mathematics in the US. As such I don't have very many ties to the US and I was wondering whether it is common for PhDs from the US to get academic positions in Australia and New Zealand. I have seen some jobs postings on http://www.mathjobs.org/ advertising positions in Aus/NZ universities, but I am not sure how many US PhDs apply to them.

Are most faculty members in Aus/NZ universities 'homegrown', or is it fairly common to see PhD's from other countries? Is a US PhD the norm, an advantage, or a disadvantage when applying for an academic position in Aus/NZ?

  • 1
    US PhDs are more thorough (5+ yrs vs. 3-3.5 yrs). I'd imagine this to be an advantage.
    – Jase
    Dec 20, 2012 at 16:35
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    @Jase: this doesn't necessarily make a US PhD more thorough. The first two years are approximately equivalent to a masters degree in New Zealand or Australia, which most students do (or at least 'Honours', which is basically the first year of Masters) before their PhD. Additionally, I believe PhD students in the US often have to do more teaching than their counterparts in Aus and NZ.
    – Tara B
    Sep 27, 2014 at 7:51
  • It is very common for faculty members in Aus and NZ to have come from other parts of the world. They will look primarily at your publication record, responses to selection criteria and referee letters (selection criteria are an important and formal part of job application process in Australia, and are used instead of research and teaching statements used in the US). A PhD from a R1 university in the US will be considered equivalent to a PhD from an Australian university and an Ivy League PhD might be a small advantage, but less important than the other factors mentioned. Mar 7, 2016 at 5:05
  • Also: you will probably have more publications than a recent PhD graduate from an Australian university, since Australian PhD degrees are shorter. This could put you at an advantage. Mar 7, 2016 at 5:07

3 Answers 3


The proportion of "homegrown" to "...imported?" PhDs varies depending on your discipline, but at the science end of things (I'm in computer science, but know plenty of mathematicians and also majored in chemistry as an undergraduate) it's quite international. Apart from pathological cases (known "bad" universities, or otherwise extremely dubious universities), where you got your PhD is not particularly important. As Jeromy says in another answer, international experience is definitely viewed favourably though. My having done my doctorate overseas has definitely been a boon.

The real criteria are performance based; publications, teaching (especially awards or other recognition) and ability to bring in the grant money! (That last one in quite important, for better or worse). As a recent Doctorate, you'll mainly need to show that you can conduct quality research.

Just for some completely non-statistically-significant stats, my Australian undergrad. chemistry department had about 50% overseas PhDs, my CS department had more like 90% overseas PhDs and my maths department had about 50% too. At my current (Australian) department (CS), it's probably about 70-80% overseas PhDs (though that's a guesstimate at the moment), including me.

Of course the caveat is, again, this will change from department to department and university to university. Some like to only hire their own graduates, others will never hire their own graduates. Your best course is really to contact the academics offering the jobs, establish a bit of an informal relationship and find out what each position is looking for.


I know many academics in Australia who obtained their PhD in the United States. In general, I think that overseas experience is seen as a positive, whether it be an Australian going overseas to do a PhD or a PostDoc or a non-Australian obtaining their PhD or PostDoc overseas. Some ranking systems even rate departments based on the number of international faculty members.

Of course, you still need to meet the job requirements. Thus, it is still going to help if you have a great publication track record, have studied or worked in a world-renowned university with world-renowned academics, and so on. Most Australian universities have a job listing site where you can subscribe to job alerts. Also, you would generally need to have good English language skills.


Your research publications and the quality of your research are more important than were you got your Ph.D. When recruiting for an academic position, the committee is generally looking for someone with an excellent research record. It can help if you went to a famous university, but if you went to a famous university and do not have good publications, it will not save you.

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