Should I go to a Canadian or U.S. Ph.D. Program?

A student who prefers to remain anonymous has sent me the following interesting query:

I have recently been offered a place in a top Canadian PhD program (one that is ranked quite highly in about 7 specialty areas). Since I have a master’s, I have been accepted directly into the PhD program. I have also been accepted into more than one PhD program in the US that has a lower overall ranking than the Canadian program. In my area of interest most of the US and Canadian programs are comparable. There are people that I would like to work with at all of the programs. I can imagine that I am not the only student facing this decision. My concern is that if I attend the Canadian program I may have trouble finding a job in the US.

The question that I would like to pose concerns how a PhD from a Canadian University is looked at by US Philosophy departments. I am especially interested in how US departments (larger departments as well as the smaller departments) look at job applicants that are American but did their PhD in Canada.


  1. Ken

    I’ve taught at a pretty undistinguished regional state university and a pretty undistinguished liberal arts college wannabe. I’ve never known anyone to care about a Canadian versus U.S. PhD. I have always looked for a smart philosopher who will be active in the profession and contribute the teaching and service in the department. I have no idea what things might be like in other segments of the job market.

    One thing you might check, if you haven’t already, is the placement record of the respective institutions, if they are available. That might give you some idea of where the respective graduates go.

  2. gualtiero

    I agree. I would go with the best program, to the best of your knowledge. If the ranking looks like a good approximation to the quality of the programs, I would go with the highest ranked program. I would think that any serious US department will prefer, other things being equal, someone who studied at a first-tier Canadian program to someone who studied at a second-tier US program.

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