Hello all. My name is Nick Mulder. I am a recent graduate of the University of Delaware chemistry program. Currently I have a job, and I am looking to attend graduate school next year. My original plan was to immediately pursue a doctoral degree, but lately I have been considering going abroad before I commit to such an endeavor. My idea is to travel to Europe, Spain in particular, in order to obtain a Masters degree prior to returning to the states to begin doctoral work. My question involves the viability of this decision. I do not know how European degrees are typically viewed by admissions boards in the United States.
A specific degree which I have been especially interested in is earned through the 'Masters in Colloid and Interface Science and Technology' program at the University of Granada in Spain. The program is officially recognized by the European Union, and as far as I have seen the university is highly ranked, prestigious, and one of the oldest in the Western world (circa ~1500 AD). I am particularly interested in interfacial chemical phenomena and believe participating in such a program would be an excellent career choice. However, I have been told by advisors that I have an impressive resume and currently have the ability to be accepted at many top schools in the US. My concern is that, if I pursue said degree, admissions boards will not view the degree as equivalent to a similar degree granted in the United States, and may consider me less viable as a candidate in thier program. I feel like this is a silly concern, but I do not want to return to the states to find myself in a bad situation.
If anyone could please advise me on this issue I would very much appreciate it.
Hello Nicholas. I am currently studying abroad (albeit I took the opposite approach, obtained my MS in the states and am currently working towards a PhD in colloidal chemistry) and can provide some perspective on your concern. While I was in graduate school in the USA, the university that I attended admitted many students from abroad with MS degrees from their respective countries. From many of my discussions with these students I understood that the admittance committee (which is usually constructed from the faculty and staff of the university) would evaluate the school that the said student studied at. If the school appeared to be credible then the student would be admitted (assuming GRE and TOEFL scores were acceptable). Typically the school wouldn't even consider a student from abroad (typically Asian countries) for a PhD program in the USA unless they had a MS degree. Fortunately for you, as a person who obtained their BS degree in the USA, this should not be an issue. All universities and their respective physical sciences departments care about are three things: 1. an evaluation of your overall GPA; 2. your GRE scores; and 3. your aptitude towards research. Your final GPA from your undergraduate studies will be easy to evaluate and your GRE scores will be utilized for initial screening of PhD candidates. Your aptitude for research is based on recent exposure and/or experience. I assume you already have some experience, but you will obviously obtain quite a bit more in a MS program (especially in Europe where such programs are research intensive). If you truly want to evaluate the graduate program of any university, this should be done according to the publications and the opportunity to be a co-author. All in all, as long as you stay game-fully involved with research a MS degree in Europe should be quite rewarding. Although you should keep it in mind that a MS degree does not necessarily mean that you will spend less time obtaining your PhD in the USA.
Thank you for the responses. Joshua- that is exactly what I was hoping to hear. I will be starting the program at an as yet undetermined time sometime next summer. Best of luck with your own endeavors.