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Nov27-10, 12:12 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
Nope. I have a suspicion that the statement you made about astrophysics/cosmology students getting drafted off to private financial firms is misleading.
I have some first hand experience in this sort of thing. :-) :-)

It isn't that I don't think individuals from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc are regularly hired by big finance or Wal Street firms. It's that I think it has nothing to do with their studies in cosmology.
Harvard, Princeton, and Yale cosmology Ph.D.'s tend not to get hired by Wall Street firms because they can usually find a job in a national lab or academic post. The astrophysics Ph.D.'s that tend to get hired in finance are Ph.D.'s from other schools, because they are locked out of the academic job market.

I could be wrong though. So I asked for some suggestions of firms with the intention of contacting them and seeing what they said.
You'll probably reach the wrong people. One problem with getting a physics Ph.D. job in finance is that if you talk to someone in HR or someone that does general recruitment, they are usually pretty clueless. Also the firms that hire physics Ph.D.'s are the firms that you've heard in the news. Morgan-Stanley, Goldman-Sachs, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Credit Suisse, and those are just the investment banks. There are also hedge funds (Blackrock, DBShaw, RenTech, and probably fifty others that I haven't mentioned.)

There aren't a huge number of jobs, but there aren't a large number of applicants. In a good year, a bank may hire about a dozen or so physics Ph.D.'s, and your typical investment banks will have about 100 or so STEM Ph.D.'s in a head count of 30,000. But a 100 Ph.D.'s is a lot of hiring.

I have a BS in physics, have worked in industry for the past couple of years, and am in the process of choosing between a PhD in physics (and the resulting area of study) and an MBA. I've spent the last few weeks examining information such as what is found in this thread.
Do what you love. If your primary consideration is career, the MBA will be better. If you are totally committed to learning physics, then go with the Ph.D.