Wellcome Trust or UCL for Neuroscience PhD?

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lollero
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Any thoughts on which is better (for future career prospects): a Neuroscience PhD programme with Wellcome Trust funding at an excellent uni (that is not UCL), or a non-Wellcome Trust programme in UCL?
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Nightwing_
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If you want future career prospects don't do a PhD. Me and many people in my department are starting to realise that now! Seriously!!

If you are dead set on it then supervisor is way more important than where. No (barely any) future employers will care about where you got your PhD. They will only care about your publication record. Make sure you choose a supervisor that is likely to get you publishing (check their publication record) also up and coming academics are more likely to get your stuff published as it is more important for their careers than well established academics who are starting to reach the "winding down" stage of their career.
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lollero
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(Original post by Nightwing_)
If you want future career prospects don't do a PhD. Me and many people in my department are starting to realise that now! Seriously!!

If you are dead set on it then supervisor is way more important than where. No (barely any) future employers will care about where you got your PhD. They will only care about your publication record. Make sure you choose a supervisor that is likely to get you publishing (check their publication record) also up and coming academics are more likely to get your stuff published as it is more important for their careers than well established academics who are starting to reach the "winding down" stage of their career.
Thanks for the input! That does seem like a pretty good strategy for trying to decide this.

However, would the university really not matter even if I want to work in academia afterwards? The more I look at PIs in any top-tier uni in the UK the more it seems that all the "high-profile" ones either a) have a medical degree or b) have a PhD from Oxford/Cambridge/UCL/etc. But then again, that might not be as much of a cause rather than a consequence.
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Nightwing_
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(Original post by lollero)
Thanks for the input! That does seem like a pretty good strategy for trying to decide this.

However, would the university really not matter even if I want to work in academia afterwards? The more I look at PIs in any top-tier uni in the UK the more it seems that all the "high-profile" ones either a) have a medical degree or b) have a PhD from Oxford/Cambridge/UCL/etc. But then again, that might not be as much of a cause rather than a consequence.
I honestly don't think it should hold you back, within reason, as snobby as it sounds you probably don't want to go to an ex-poly!

I guess it might perk people's interest if you are otherwise fairly evenly matched with someone, but the above points I mentioned would be more important. As you get higher up people will start to pay more attention. I work at Exeter and for recent academic posts they were interested in people who had had teaching experience at top universities, but again high impact papers are more important! I've never heard anyone who is interviewing for a post doc position make any reference to the university someone got their PhD at, it is all about publications.

As I say obviously this is all within reason, you don't want to go somewhere rubbish, but so long as it is half decent, you will be fine.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by lollero)
Thanks for the input! That does seem like a pretty good strategy for trying to decide this.

However, would the university really not matter even if I want to work in academia afterwards? The more I look at PIs in any top-tier uni in the UK the more it seems that all the "high-profile" ones either a) have a medical degree or b) have a PhD from Oxford/Cambridge/UCL/etc. But then again, that might not be as much of a cause rather than a consequence.
It really doesn't matter unless you go somewhere with a notoriously poor reputation for research or generally. I'm not sure whose profiles you've been looking at but at most good unis you'll notice that people come from all over the place including international unis. Someone being high profile is very dependent on what they're working on and how good they are at getting funding. That's usually a combination of luck and skills and which uni you go to won't necessarily impact on that. What you should be looking out for is where are the high profile academics in your specific field and sub-field.
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chazwomaq
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Just to second what Nightwing_ says, the actual institution does not matter for your career. When you are applying for jobs, it's all about publications.

The supervisor is important, as is the lab you will be working. Higher ranked / good reputation universities are good to target only inasmuch as they are more likely to have a strong publishing culture and a productive lab where you can get swept up in what's going on etc.
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SGR_17
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(Original post by lollero)
Any thoughts on which is better (for future career prospects): a Neuroscience PhD programme with Wellcome Trust funding at an excellent uni (that is not UCL), or a non-Wellcome Trust programme in UCL?
Wellcome trust funded programmes in neuroscience are highly competitive and prestigious awards, NOT your standard PhD. In most cases there are over 200 applicants for 5-7 places and for good reasons:

Firstly the stipend and funding allocated for your research project and travel for attending conferences is VERY generous, in fact probably one of the most generous scholarships in the world. This means that not only will you have a more comfortable lifestyle you will be able to put more cash into your project thereby maximising the potential of what you can research which will probably lead to a more significant publication. And that will matter more with regards to career prospects in the field.

Secondly all the programmes are 4 year programmes involving lab rotations and a variety of taught modules in the first year. This is a clear advantage as you can mingle with the staff and get an idea of what floats your boat so you can decide on your final PhD project. You can also find out who you get on with as you wouldn't want to spend three years with a supervisor you don't like, this is a risk when starting a PhD with someone you don't know. Also the first year will be a good opportunity to learn more skills and become a more informed neuroscience research student perhaps also publish some results from your lab rotations.

Thirdly, they are all provided by EXCELLENT universities with great neuroscience departments, all with a slightly different emphasis on their research, but excellent nonetheless. Not to mention the cities: Oxford, Cardiff, Bristol, Edinburgh and London are all vibrant beautiful cities to live in.

I think doing the Wellcome Trust Programme over a standard PhD has it's clear advantages. Don't let league tables dictate your decision, as you've said they are all great universities and future employers will recognise them and will probably appreciate a Wellcome scholar more, it's a very special award.

However, if you know exactly what you want to do and you've met your supervisor at UCL and you think that UCL will provide the best opportunity for you then I say GO FOR IT.

Can I ask what you have offers for/what you've applied for?
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trek240
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hey guys! I will be applying to the UCL Wellcome Trust programme in the next 2 months (or less *panic mode on*) and I am having some sort of difficulty with the motivation letter. I already wrote 2 of them but I'm struggling to understand how it should be structured. Of course I googled 'PhD motivation letters' to see what the format is, but I really don't believe that such a format is able to show who I am and what I have done... I tend to write in a more ''emotional'' (let's call it like that) way, like give emphasis on my thoughts and motivation that show not only who I am academically but also personally... Should I write my motivation letter in the formal way or in the way I think it expresses who I am? I really wanna do my best with the application and not **** up anything
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