I received an unconditional offer from two universities: one in UK, the other in a little country of Northern Europe. As I am uncertain about where to go, I would like to ask your opinion.

On the one hand, I noticed that students of small departments, after graduation, have a hard time securing themselves a suitable post-doc position elsewhere. (Specifically, I also read on the University's database that most of its past graduates remained there for their post-doc, teaching assistantships, etc). On the other, in the UK PhD students tend to work mostly on their dissertation and teaching duties, leaving aside the publication of their researches.

Another factor is the collaboration with the supervisor. While in the UK professors do not normally co-author articles with their students, many professors in Northern European universities usually not only do publish articles with students but also share projects with them.

I do know that, either case, the path will not be easy. I am just scared of making the wrong choice. My biggest fear is, in fact, not being able to move to other Universities, say, in the US, Germany or UK for a post-doc.

Thank you for your time.

  • 1
    Don't just compare the universities. Compare the cities. For most purposes, London has several excellent libraries, multiple universities, and communities speaking most languages. Estonia may have specialized resources for studying eastern European literature. Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 12:53
  • I have reworked the question title by valuing selection criteria, rather than universities, and nominate the question for reopening.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 17:17
  • I feel like even if this question has been edited to remove the "shopping" characteristic, it now depends heavily on individual circumstances. And although some similar questions have been allowed, they probably qualify as duplicates now.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 21:29
  • I know that this forum has its rules, but please don't just look at the form. I really need an advice from more experienced people. And all this red-tape stuff, although necessary, is not helping me. I believe many of you have been in the situation of not being able to find help (and, thus, of not sleeping for days).
    – Giorgio
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 21:42
  • @Giorgio I thought your other question was much better. It had a more specific scope, is answerable in a fairly general sense, and has value to other readers of the site. I understand (and I think this applies to the community as a whole, as well) the wanting advice part, but SE isn't just an advice site. The rules are there for a reason, to keep out certain types of questions that otherwise bog down a site like this, and try to make sure the best, most useful questions rise to the top. It certainly isn't an indictment of the importance of your situation.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


Since it looks like this question was voted for reopen, I'll move my comment to an answer.

Partial quote of comment from OP:

...I read on the University's database that most of [the small European country university department's] graduates remained there for their post-doc, teaching assistantships, etc. And this scared me considerably. I was just wondering if that should be considered a general rule for such small departments... Many of the former PhD students had papers published in good journals but, somehow, did not move from the city (none of them).

That sounds to me like a pretty big red flag - if the department isn't creating graduates that have success elsewhere, and you want to eventually find success elsewhere in your career, then they aren't providing you any evidence that their program is going to help you reach your goals. Further, it might be evidence that the department is fairly insular, and doesn't interact as much with scholars from countries like the US, UK, and Germany, which would limit opportunities to form the relationships that lead to future positions.

Of course it is possible that you could be the student to break their tradition, and it's also possible that those previous students are doing exactly what they wanted to do by staying (and it may also depend on a small sample size). Unfortunately you just don't have any evidence that graduates of that program can get positions like the ones you hope to compete for.

I think that's all the advice I can really give, besides that it's your decision and depends on how you personally weigh the various pros and cons. Eventual faculty positions and even post-docs can be quite competitive, so even at a top-ranked institution there are no career guarantees.

Best of luck to you.

  • Thank you very much Bryan. I really appreciate your help.
    – Giorgio
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 16:20

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