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What I'm trying to understand is, to what degree does the status/rank of the University (where one completes his/her Ph.D) matter while shaping his/her career after graduation? I would like to know the weight given to one's school in both the following cases:

  • While applying for post-docs/faculty positions in academia
  • While applying to industrial research labs

For instance, I've read on some forums (I can't locate the link now) that while considering prospective applications for tenure-track faculty positions, very few Universities accept a candidate who has completed his/her Ph.D from a lower ranked school having a lesser "brand" value, irrespective of the fact whether he/she has published equally original work as his/her counterpart from an Ivy league college. How much truth is in this statement? It would be really great if someone already in academia, either as a newly-accepted faculty or someone on the Faculty Hiring committee could share their experiences/statistics on this regard. I'm simply interested to know the answer, without commenting at all on whether such a practice is justifiable.

Similarly, what about recruitment to internationally acclaimed research labs (like IBM T.J.Watson lab or Microsoft research lab) - what importance do they place on the pedigree of a candidate's college, before taking into consideration what they published ?

I'm personally interested in answers related to the field of Computer Science (theory), but the question is applicable to any prospective grad student in any discipline in my opinion. Feel free to share your personal experiences post-Ph.D in detail, as that would give me (and future viewers of this question) about what its like to carve a career once you are out of school!

1 Answer 1

The short answer is that it can matter fairly significantly in where you get your post-doctoral fellowship and eventual professorship, and it will matter very significantly if you choose to follow a career outside of academia.

When looking for a job in academia, potential employers will look at many factors, including publication record, research success, research track, who your advisor was, etc. The school is important but other factors are involved.

When looking for a job outside of academia, they will look at your GPA and the name of the university from which you graduated. In this case, your university could easily be a "make it or break it" part of the deal.