I love travelling and I was thinking of getting my Master’s degree in mathematics abroad (I got my bachelors in the USA). I know that I can get funding if I go to China for my master’s.

Will it be viewed negatively if I try to apply for a PhD in the United States?

  • 2
    It really depends which university. Degrees from Tsinghua, for example, normally carry a lot of value internationally.
    – Simd
    Jan 30, 2015 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


I have some experience with Asian Universities, particularly Japanese.

First, take into account that having a Masters might boost a bit your application to PhD a bit, as long as you publish something over there. Also, if the profesor you are going with is unknown, it might not help you at all.

Second, many people think that studying abroad and traveling are similar things, when they are really not. You'll have to deal with the hardships of asian Academic culture, which are very different from the American ones.

You'll also have to deal with the hardships of life, be sure to know the language at least to communicate basic thoughts and deal with the fact that you might not like food there (Protip: Chinese American Food is somewhat different of real Chinese Food)

I would put more, but I would be edging on ranting, which I'm probably already are.

  • I have traveled to other countries before and I understand what it means to live in another country, was just thinking china wouldn't be so bad, because most of the good students come from China in my undergrad program, plus the cost of living there is not as great as Europe. Plus, I am not looking for the top schools, just need to get a PHD to help out in getting a job.
    – MaoYiyi
    Nov 2, 2012 at 15:56
  • 1
    Most of the good students of China are good because they went to the chinese elementary and secondary school system, which is very demanding, University education is a bit more laxed compared with USA, specially graduate programs. Nov 2, 2012 at 17:28
  • So its harder than USA programs? Then why are not Chinese math programs ranked higher? Are you talking from personal experience?
    – MaoYiyi
    Nov 3, 2012 at 1:37
  • 3
    Ranks aren't everything. A lot of chinese universities are now publishing as much as American universities and have Professors who have moved back from US to teach in China. Ph D programs were always about the fit between you and your advisor, not really going to miss anything with regards to ranks.
    – Naresh
    Nov 3, 2012 at 11:17
  • That's not what I said, in my personal experience, Westerners Graduate students are usually better prepared than Asiatic students in term of high order math, Asiatic students are crazy good with the calculations, but the foundations they should have gotten in Undergrad are clearly not there. Nov 6, 2012 at 3:53

I think it would be good - maybe great.

  • Math is a universal language, so its not like you're learning American History in China.
  • Math is generally at a very high level in China. Take for example Secondary student's math scores in Shanghai, considered tops among the world in OECD (PISA) scores. These students will get that MA in China in Math. Many are the geniuses who score an 800 on the SAT Math section in China without even trying. So much better than American kids.
  • The university system may be not so well-developed, maybe your thesis isn't really guided, you might have like a few classes a week, you may live with 3 other slobs in a dorm bed. But the tuition is probably really cheap, the food even cheaper and so are the calculators, because they are abacuses - some of them.
  • Your PhD program will see you did something great and unique. And if you come away unscathed and with a better command of Chinese and a wider worldview, you have done yourself a service.
  • Final reason, you learn to use an abacus, the most important reason.

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