I have applied to PhD programs in ecology in Europe (Germany, Denmark, UK) and Oceania (Australia/New Zealand). Now the deadlines for US programs are coming up and I am debating whether I should apply there as well. Aside from the exorbitant costs when applying to US programs I am interested in comparing the pros and cons as far as career opportunities go.
I have already a MS from a major US university and I will turn 31 soon. My career goals are to pursue a teaching/research position. I am assuming that the potential advisors satisfy my requirements (good publishing track, personable, successful students, international connections) and that there will be funding. I will consider "rest of the world" and USA.
Rest of the World (at least for the programs I am considering):
- can be completed in three years, in this case I will have gained two years for a possible Post Doc, and also make use of my Masters.
- I will be able to just focus on research without being a teaching assistant, from what I understand publications would count more than teaching assistant experience even for a 50%/50% research/teaching position
- it might be harder in case I want to find a job in the US, especially since I will not be located within the country
- there are no obligations to complete courses
- pay rate is generally decent compared to cost of living
- I am under the impression that a PhD from a top US institution is well-regarded internationally and it would be easier to find a job in Europe or Australia.
- the teaching experience could be useful to me as I would like to also be involved in education alongside with research.
- there is more time to explore and think about research questions and goals, as opposed to Europe where you join to develop a certain project.
- the stipend in the US is very low compared to the living costs, especially on the West Coast. It would mean five years of financial sacrifice.
- more chances to perhaps be involved in other projects, it seems there is more of an open research community within departments.
- it might be productive to take some classes that are taught by top profile professors.
Is the extra time spent and the financial sacrifice for a US PhD worthwhile for my career goals and my preparation as a successful educator/researcher? Will my international mobility be limited based on where I graduate?