I am completing my master's by thesis this year at a small university in the West. I would really like to pursue my PhD (Maths/Stats) in Hong Kong, but I've been told by my supervisor and others that a PhD from a non-Western country is looked down upon by employers. Especially in my desired industry (finance).

This doesn't really make sense to me because Hong Kong is obviously a very developed city, the language of instruction is English, and it's a big financial center. The universities I'd want to enter (University of Hong kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) are also ranked in top 100.

Is my supervisor wrong here, or is this something I should seriously be considering?

I am particularly concerned about Hong Kong or Singapore employers, but also of ones based in Europe and Australasia.

  • 2
    Hong Kong is 'western' enough. Those two universities you mentioned are very reputable, and have excellent standing! Perhaps your advisers are not referring to HK but .....? May 28, 2017 at 20:41
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    @Prof.SantaClaus These universities are very reputable in academia, but I would indeed not bet my career on this is also being true in the finance world ...
    – xLeitix
    May 28, 2017 at 20:45
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    I can certainly see that as a valid point @xLeitix, but for me personally I'd like to work in Hong Kong or Singapore (not 100% sure I will though). Presumably getting a PhD in one of these cities would be preferable to that end, though my supervisor didn't think so. As far as connection building, immigration, etc it seems to be a good choice for me?
    – Patrick
    May 28, 2017 at 20:56
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    Opinions of potential non-academic employers are arguably off-topic here. This might be a better question for workplace.SE.
    – JeffE
    May 28, 2017 at 21:33
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    In Business-related disciplines, it's widely recognized that familiarity with the relevant culture's important. Having done a Ph.D. in Asia would be a major liability for getting a job in the West, but since you're specifically interested in getting a job in Asia, it could be a different story. You might want to ask people who have experience at the types of firms that you'd like to find employment at for their opinion.
    – Nat
    May 29, 2017 at 1:31

1 Answer 1


All degrees have value somewhere. What you need to think about is where you want to work when you complete your studies. Obviously if your goal is to work in Asia or particularly in Hong Kong there should be no problems with a Hong Kong degree.

Another concern to consider is whether you will work in academia or industry. Sometimes academia needs to hire people whose degrees are recognized by the local government. Sometimes for political reasons one country will not recognize another country's degrees unless the university is transcendently elite. This forces the university to look elsewhere for talent.

In industry, they usually do not need to hire people with degrees from government recognized countries.

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