Brown University vs University of California Riverside (PhD)

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Brown University vs University of California Riverside (PhD)

Postby darshil_doshi » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:34 pm


I am an International student, planning to pursue graduate studies working in HEP Theory.
I have recieved two acceptences so far, from Brown University and University of California Riverside. Brown seems to have a better ranking, better name and bigger department; where as Riverside has a strong and focused phenomenology group.

I am extremely confused at this point. So if anyone has any input or advice on these two places that could help me make a better choice, it would be great help.

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Re: Brown University vs University of California Riverside (PhD)

Postby TakeruK » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:27 pm

Here are some things you could think about in making your choice:

- Research fit. From your description, it sounds like UCR is very good at one thing while Brown might be more general. So, UCR might be better if you really want to work in that thing, but if not, Brown might have more options for you.

- These two schools are also in very very different locations. So don't forget to factor in what type of city/climate/culture where you would be happier and thrive more. Check out the cost of living vs. stipend too and see if you can have a happy life.

- UCR is a public school while Brown is a private school. In the USA, there is often huge differences in the resources available to professors and their students between rich private schools and often-struggling public schools (note: I don't know anything about UCR specifically in terms of finances, this is just a generalization). So, I would talk to students and professors at both places about the resources I would want to complete my work. For example, you might ask potential advisors and students in their groups questions like, "how often you present at conferences domestically/internationally?", "do you collaborate with people outside of the university?" (good for building your network), "are there any travel grants or research grants available for grad students?", "what equipment/resources are available to students for doing work?" (e.g. do they buy you a new computer when you start? give you money to buy one? etc.).

- Talk to professors that you are specifically interested in at each school to find out what they are like and whether you would get along. Talk to the students in these profs' groups to find out what it's like to work for them.

- What does your funding package commit you to? Usually, it is preferable to be funded by a fellowship or a research assistantship grant from your advisor, but I know TAing is very typical for theory fields. If you are TAing, what is the TA load like between these two schools?

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Re: Brown University vs University of California Riverside (PhD)

Postby yhj201999 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:31 pm

Let us know what you pick? I am curious.

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Re: Brown University vs University of California Riverside (PhD)

Postby darshil_doshi » Wed May 02, 2018 2:25 am

@TakeruK Thanks a tonne! Your advice was very helpful.

@yhj201999 I've accepted the offer from Brown. The main reason for the decision was that None of the 5 High energy Theorists at Brown were looking to take a new student in the coming year; while 3-4 of them at Brown were.

Here's some points that I noted during my research about the universities, might be useful for someone in a similar spot.

- Brown is a rich university, of course. So it has a better stipend and also has decent travel funds.

- Riverside has a very strong and active HEP phenomenology group. However, it does not have people doing pure theory. I'm not so sure about the other groups. Brown, on the other hand, has a diverse department. In HEP theory, it has people working in Phenomenology, String Theory, AdS/CFT and Gravity.

-Brown is an established place, while the department at Riverside is a relatively new one. Preference for one or the other depends on the individual.

-Professors at both places seem friendly and helpful. Although I should mention that many of the HEP theory professors go on sabbaticals every now and then. You might want to contact your potential advisers and know about such things in advance. However, the grad students said that this is not that big of a deal as they are well in touch through emails and Skype.

- From what I inquired, graduates from both departments usually get decent Post Doctoral positions if they want to stay in academia.

Feel free to ask for more details.

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