I'm thinking of applying to some european msc programs. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it would be in, theoretical physics maybe or applied math, not sure yet. But from looking at the rankings, most of the european programs seem to be ranked below top american programs. Of the top 25 here (http://www.arwu.org/FieldSCI2010.jsp), 18 are american. Half of the top 25 for the QS rankings are also american : http://www.topuniversities.com/universi ... es/physics
So If I decide to do a MSC in europe (for example utrecht or university of amsterdam maybe, I've heard they have good theoretical programs) and then come back to the US to do a PhD program, will having gone to europe hurt me? That is, if I go to a lower ranked european university for a masters, will it be harder to get accepted to a top phd program in the US?