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I'm a canadian engineering undergraduate student in the field of robotics and I'm considering doing a masters degree in Japan when I finish my bachelors.

I've talked about this with my internship supervisor (a well known professor in my subfield) and he claimed that research in Japan is usually seen as less relevant because (his words) :

they tend to stay isolated from the worldwide community and ignore new developpements from other researchers.

I'd really like to study in Japan as I have a great interest in their culture and also because popular culture suggests that Japan is one of the leading countries in the field of robotics (This might be wrong).

However, I would also like my future masters degree to not be seen as second rate.

Will a masters degree in Japan be seen as less valuable? and if so, how would it impact my future career?

  • Your internship supervisor, as he is well known in your subfield, is probably better to answer this question than us. – Emilie Apr 28 '16 at 18:48
  • I'm mostly looking for other points of view. People can be biased even if they dont intend to. – JS Lavertu Apr 28 '16 at 18:50
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    Japan has a well known Robotics research community and even if they ignore other researchers, they are doing pretty well on their own. Its not bad, just different. In the worst case it is still international experience that is valuable for you and your research. – Matias Valdenegro Apr 28 '16 at 21:46
  • I can't answer specifically about robotics, but nearly all research in Japan is done in an insular way. There's at least two reasons I can think of for this: (1) language barrier -- most researchers even in the sciences don't have a great command of English so their ability to read and publish in the broader environment is low. (2) research expectations in Japan - the system here is geared towards quantitative approaches to publication rather than qualitative (at most universities, 10 publications including local venues (3 int. level) = assistant professor; 20 = full professor (5 int)). – virmaior Apr 29 '16 at 1:21
  • I'm not sure I understand your second point, could you explain it in a different way? – JS Lavertu Apr 29 '16 at 14:00
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I think your decision should be based on future aspirations. Specifically, you need to decide if you are heading into industry or academia when you complete your studies. If you are going into industry, companies want people who know their stuff and can actually do something. It is the application of theory through making it tangible and not necessarily the knowledge of theory that is most valued. Studying in Japan should not injury you in this regard. Having overseas experience is yet another benefit to many companies seeking employees, especially in a country that is a leader in this field.

If you decide to go into academia the advice of your professor is probably wisest to abide by. Exceptions to this would be if you choose to stay in Japan, which would not hurt with a Japanese degree or if you complete a PhD somewhere, which would help to overcome a master degree that some may see as "second rate."Explaining your reason for going to Japan in the admission process should mollify many PhD admission committees

  • That's a great answer! I still haven't decided whether I'd like to complete a PhD or go in the industry after so thank you for listing both options. – JS Lavertu Apr 29 '16 at 13:57

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