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Post Doctoral Studies in USA

Postdoctoral research is scholarly research conducted by a person who has completed doctoral studies. It is intended to further deepen expertise in a specialist subject, including integrating a team, acquiring novel skills and methods. Given the emphasis on research in the US higher education system, post-doctoral scholars play an important role on US campuses.

In the U.S., "Post-doctoral Study" refers to short-term research, usually 1-2 years that is conducted after a candidate completes his or her PhD. Post-doc candidates/scholars pursue focused research in their field of interest as well as contribute to research in their department. The candidate is expected to publish their research. Throughout the process, they have access to university resources and subject matter experts to support their studies.

Regarding the major field of the US’s post-docs, Life sciences have greater share than other fields. It is expected that 54% of post-docs major in life sciences where as those who majored in physical science, mathematics, and engineering account for only 28%.

Various US universities offer post-doc study across various disciplines. The best university for a candidate depends on a variety of factors including the type of research being conducted, resources and funding available. A good place to start is by identifying universities, scholars, and professors whose research aligns with what you want to do. It is best to network with professors and discuss mutual interests – doing so will help you identify the best department/program fit.

Top Universities in USA for Life Sciences and Medicine –
  1. Harvard University
  2. Johns Hopkins University
  3. Stanford University
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  5. University of California, San Francisco
  6. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  7. Yale University
  8. University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
  9. Duke University
  10. University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  11. University of Washington
  12. University of Pennsylvania
  13. Columbia University
  14. University of Michigan
  15. Washington University in St. Louis
  16. Cornell University
  17. Boston University
  18. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  19. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  20. University of Chicago
Source: QS World University Rankings 2013

Opportunities for Post-docs
Indian scholars have ample opportunities to conduct research in the U.S. by applying for a large number of post-doctoral opportunities. Post-docs are paid reasonably well and they shall develop unparalleled networking opportunities. The qualification is a huge value-addition to a scholarly resume. The expected median salary of post-docs is $42,000 per year.

Persons who have completed post-doc studies are in high demand world-wide in the field of academia. Depending on their area of expertise, they may go on to become faculty at renowned educational institutions, work as consultants who provide subject matter expertise, or be invited by premier institutes of research to set up laboratories and conduct their own research.

One can apply directly through the University’s advertised post-doctoral program, go as part of an exchange program, or even collaborate independently with a professor to complete a post-doc. The candidate along with host institution faculty decides the course outline and structure.

Non-Degree or Visiting Student
It is possible to apply directly to US universities as a non-degree seeking or visiting student status. Under these arrangements, students may be able to complete postgraduate coursework (including research-based classes for credit) and/or have access to university and department facilities for research. As a non-degree seeking or visiting student, a post-doc will likely pay similar tuition fees to that of a degree-seeking students.

Typical funding for this course of study is provided by either the host institution, or scholarships offered by external funding agencies such as the Fulbright Fellowships, or sponsorship from one’s home institution.

Visiting Scholar or Fellow
If you already possess a PhD, it is also possible to coordinate an arrangement to lecture, consult or conduct further research at a US university as a visiting scholar or post-doctoral fellow. Visiting scholars and fellows are given access to university and department facilities for research, similar to regular faculty members. These positions can be coordinated with a university department directly or may be part of an established exchange program. Most visiting scholars/fellows are expected to be self-financed, either through an external funding body or a salary from the scholar's home institution paid while the scholar is on sabbatical.

While there have been famous American and Indian graduates from well known institutions in the U.S., the most successful students are those who do the research to find the "right fit" at an accredited institution. The U.S. has over 4,000 accredited universities to choose from and a wide range of fields of study. Given this diversity, students may select universities based on their own personal needs, be they academic, financial or environmental.

Selecting Research Area
It is recommended students invest in an education after giving substantial thought to what type of expertise they would like to develop. A student must research what types of opportunities currently exist in their home country and choose an area that is of interest. In any field of study or career, there will be skills honed in U.S. universities that will be valuable in any work environment. As technology advances, there will be jobs available in the future that we may not even know about at the moment. In the evolving global market, it is especially important that students prepare to become lifelong learners. U.S. universities provide that opportunity in a variety of ways and the more time a student spends on introspection and research, the better prepared they will be upon graduation to step into a variety of career options.

- With inputs from USIEF.
Published date : 15 Oct 2013 05:55PM

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