International PhDs: Exploring the Decision to Stay or Return

Findings from the Ph.D.s–10 Years Later study regarding Ph.D. recipients from abroad who earned their degrees at U.S. institutions of higher education centers and whether they stayed in the US or returned home. While, overall, 40 percent of the Ph.D.s from abroad returned home to start their post-Ph.D. careers, there was, in fact, considerable variation by field of study, region of origin, and even subregion. While many factors helped determine the choices on initial job locations made by international Ph.D. holders, one overwhelming trend that ran through the “return” data was a predetermination to return, powered by the pull of existing ties. Those who returned home were somehow “bound” to return, through the strong pull of their ties to cultural values and preferences, to friends and family, to their employers or governments, or to personal values such as the desire to contribute to their nation or society.

Gupta, D., Nerad, M.,  & Cerny, J. (2003). International PhDs: Exploring the Decision to Stay or Return. In CIHE, International Higher Education, Spring, Boston: Boston College.

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