Have you ever thought about completing a PhD overseas? There are many benefits of studying for a PhD abroad. You will be able to grow personally and professionally. You will enjoy a range of opportunities to build your network, develop your skills and grow your career. In the below article, I have selected five benefits of completing a PhD abroad.
People complete a PhD for different reasons: becoming an expert in your field, improving your career prospects, and changing your career direction. Your studies will provide you with the opportunity to become part of an academic community and to dive deep into your area of interest. Completing a doctorate degree is a life-changing experience.
1. Build your network
Completing your degree overseas could enable you to expand your personal and academic network. You will have the opportunity to get to know other doctoral students and researchers from a wide range of geographical, cultural, and academic backgrounds. You will be able to give presentations on your research area, attend conferences and possibly create collaborations with other academics. As a doctoral student, you could gain access to an international network of alumni working in academia. Some of the best universities have research communities with visiting experts and high-level institutional stakeholders from around the world.
Martin has always been interested in different cultures and he wanted to live overseas. Before his university studies, he considered taking a gap year. However, when he received an offer from his preferred university, he changed his mind and decided to start his university studies instead. Whilst completing his university studies, Martin spotted a funded scholarship opportunity to study History in Italy. He has put significant effort into drafting the best possible application and he was delighted to be offered a scholarship opportunity. Although at first Martin needed a bit of time to adjust to his new environment, he soon started to enjoy being part of a multi-lingual and culturally diverse community.
2. Develop your soft skills
Living in a foreign country could be challenging initially and it could contribute to lots of personal growth. As you will be interacting with colleagues from different cultures, you will be able to develop more cultural awareness. As you expand your comfort zone, you will develop stronger self-confidence.
As you meet colleagues from different cultures, your perspective on your research could change. The more ideas you are exposed to, the more you can develop creativity around your field and see things from fresh perspectives.
3. Learn a new language
Completing a PhD overseas could expose you to different languages. You might find it helpful to take up language classes and always try to communicate in the foreign language (and avoid the temptation to speak English). Learning a new language might be a challenging experience first and you may feel slightly awkward communicating. Practice makes perfect, however. The more you expose yourself to the culture and try to pick up the language, the more comfortable you will become speaking it over time. If you are having to interview participants from the public for your research, it is particularly important that you start learning the language in advance.
While living overseas, you might be able to travel and see natural sites of beauty. You will be able to visit historical places, immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy visiting cities. As an example, Norway welcomes many PhD students from all over the world. Students studying in Norway will be able to visit beautiful natural sites, experience a dynamic academic environment and be part of a modern and innovative culture.
4. Achieve academic progression
Throughout your studies, you will become part of an academic environment which encourages intellectual independence. You will receive individual supervision, participate in courses and work in groups. You will have access to the university’s library which could help you to delve deeper into your research. If you receive a fully funded scholarship, you will be able to devote yourself completely to furthering your research.
5. Develop your career prospects
Depending on your career aspirations, a PhD degree could open some ‘doors’ for you. You could work as a post-doc or a lecturer, an industry professional, a business consultant or an entrepreneur. Studying overseas would enhance your CV. You will be able to demonstrate international explore as well as the ability to network with colleagues from all over the world. This could be particularly useful if you are looking to stand out from the crowd.
When applying for professional jobs (after gaining your PhD), you may be facing fierce competition. Many other applicants may have completed academic studies. However, a significantly smaller percentage of them would have studied overseas. Your overseas experience could demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, and intellectual curiosity.
If you are looking to take up lecturing after your doctoral studies, international exposure could be particularly helpful. You will be able to demonstrate your ability to communicate with students and academics from different cultural and geographical backgrounds and to explain difficult concepts to them. Whilst studying overseas, you may develop collaborations with other students, researchers, and academics. These collaborations could lead to job offers, partnerships and invitations to research conferences.
You will need to tailor your application documents to the specific university and the nature of the doctorate training. Many students submit only one application and put all their eggs in one basket. This could significantly limit your chances, however. Although each application could take a significant amount of time to craft, it may be well worth the investment of your time. You could start by researching potential supervisors whose research expertise aligns with your interest. You may try to reach out to your preferred supervisor(s) to introduce yourself. However, if you do not receive a response, please do not get disheartened. Academics tend to have a busy schedule.