Tertiary degree contemplation


in Canada, Daily updates, Oxford

Hotel Vancouver

Sitting in the Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial is an interesting demonstration of how this is increasingly the part of town that makes the most sense to me. That was emerging strongly during my last few months in Vancouver, as more and more of my friends moved out here from the cocoon that is UBC and environs.

Being home has provoked a lot of thought and discussion about potential doctoral studies. Setting aside the question – addressed earlier – of whether to take a pause between M.Phil and PhD and what to do in it, the matter of where to do the latter degree remains. One option is to try and get into the D.Phil program at Oxford. I don’t know how many spaces there are, but it seems like many members of the M.Phil program are hoping to get one. The biggest advantage of doing so is the rapidity with which I would get the degree. To go from an M.Phil to a PhD in just two years almost feels like cheating, but such is the nature of the accelerated Oxford system. Paying for two more years at Oxford international student prices is pretty daunting, plus there simply must be a limited amount of learning and experience that you can acquire in just two years.

Another possibility, which I am considering most seriously, is to do a doctorate in the United States. Advantages are that good American schools apparently fund their doctoral students at a level sufficient to pay for school and remain alive and reasonably happy. That is pretty necessary, given that such a program would take between four and six years to complete, depending on where you go and how similar your doctoral thesis ends up being to your master’s thesis. If it is basically just an extension, there is obviously less work involved, and thus less time.

Doing a degree in Canada is not something I have given a great deal of thought to. I don’t really know too much about Canadian doctoral programs, and most people I know in them are rather disillusioned at the moment. Of course, most of the doctoral students I know are in Oxford or Canada – the United States is a sometimes alluring mystery.

Advice from those with information on any of those possibilities would be appreciated. Hopefully, I will extract a bit from Kathy Baylis and Peter Dauvergne on Friday.

PS. With 1.2GB of RAM, the iBook feels positively zippy when dealing with the nearly 7000 image files now resident in iPhoto.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. September 14, 2006 at 6:41 am

It seems to me that in a field like IR, it is a big advantage to study in multiple countries. Even more so, the most important one in the world. I think the US is the best bet.

James September 16, 2006 at 8:00 pm

I probably wouldn’t worry too much about what you’ll be able to learn at Oxford. Although you can theoretically get a DPhil in two years after completing an MPhil, few people do. Most take 3 or 4, and that’s plenty of time to stock your brain! The main issue with Oxford is the money: as you know, it’s darn hard to get proper funding. (Keep in mind that you only have to pay fees for 3 full-time years in total, so if you stay for more than 2 years on the DPhil, you won’t pay any more fees. You’ve still got to live, though.) The US is definitely the best bet when it comes to funding.

Milan September 16, 2006 at 8:03 pm


I will need to speak at length with my supervisor about all of this stuff. Thanks for the information though – especially on not having to pay tuition beyond three years. Does that include college fees?

James September 17, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Yes, I’m pretty sure it includes college fees. At some point down the line (usually starting in your fifth year of full-time grad study) many colleges start charging a small “continuation fee” to cover ongoing admin, use of college facilities, etc. This is usually fairly minimal – less than £50 a term.

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