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Courses 3 year research vs. 2 year pure coursework MS

  1. Aug 25, 2012 #1
    I'm currently doing a MS in physics. The way I'm progressing, it looks to me that I'd probably have to take 3 years to finish the thesis. This is because I'm having to take extra classes since I didn't have a critical 1 year class (E and M) during undergrad; I didn't major in physics. I'll be behind a year on a critical required class which is going to delay my research.

    However, I want to get over with the masters as quickly as possible and have no plans to continue up to a PHD in physics. If I were to get a PHD, it'll be in physical chemistry or materials science.

    So I'm thinking of just doing pure coursework, taking the comprehensive final and getting it over with in 2 years. I could also do research as an elective, but just not write a thesis, so there's no time pressure. This doesn't affect my funding which is through TA work. I did 1 year of undergrad research on polymers in chemical engineering.

    Would doing a coursework/test only MS be worth it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2012 #2
    I would say it only matters when you are applying for your first job. If it is technical they will prefer the research master's. Once you have a job no one is ever going to care. How much it matters for that first job depends on the job so it's hard to say.
  4. Aug 26, 2012 #3
    Thank you for your help, I greatly appreciate it.

    What about PHD applications for non-physics, but related, departments? I know it would have *some* impact, but how much? Would the ad-com for say the Materials Science and Engineering department, or the Chemistry department, believe that doing the coursework masters means that you're an unproven liability in terms of research skills, and would have significant motivation to pass you in favor of someone that did a research masters, in physics or any other related field? I know that undergrad research is not so meaningful once you have your masters, but how big of an issue is this?
  5. Aug 27, 2012 #4
    That's really hard to say, but I guess it would depend on the specific admissions committee. Certainly a research project under your belt would strengthen your application (particularly if you can relate it to why you want to attend this particular department). Is that extra bump on your application worth another year of study? I'm not sure anyone can answer that. Perhaps you can try contacting a couple of the schools you're interested in for the Ph.D. and ask them?
  6. Aug 27, 2012 #5
    I appreciate your feedback. I will write to the departments and make a decision by the deadline to choose thesis/coursework.
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