Does it matter where a PhD is done? - (Nov/22/2011 )
Just curious for everyone's thoughts, how important/not does the university/institute/college where you do your PhD play?
Does it matter if your university is the best is the country or top 10 etc?
What about having an experienced professor as opposed to a junior scientist as your supervisor?
At the end of the day, a PhD is a PhD yes/no?
although the ranking of your university seems to get more important, the decisive factor usually is the quality of your supervisor - and there are excellent supervisors who are young group leaders and bad supervisors who are well established senior scientist - and vice versa. Most important is that you think you can spend 4/5 years with your supervisor and the people in the lab - because I have seen many people choosing their supervisor by reputation who did hate their PhD and who were really unhappy in the groups.
So in my eyes its supervisor/group first, then topic, and then the institution. If you like what you are doing and where you are doing it you will be more productive which will in the end define your chances.
I second what Geb said.
Really, is always better to join a group you like rather than ranking.