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A concentration degree vs a regular degree

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A "concentration" degree vs a "regular" degree

Good afternoon everyone. I'm new here and it's great to be here. I have a very large interest in Physics and plan on getting a degree in said field. I do have one big question; Is there a big difference between having a BS in Physics and a BS in Science, Math and Technology with a Concentration in Physics? All of my courses would be the same as a normal Physics curriculum. Would this "concentration" in physics be looked down upon in the physics community compared to a "regular" degree? You see my situation is as such; I have a full time job and the normal responsibilities that come with being an adult, lol, and the only school near me within a reasonable distance is SUNY Empire State College. Alas, it is a BS in Science, Math and Technology with a Concentration in Physics. Should I follow through with this school or just wait until I have the accessibility to say a CUNY school in which I could just get a regular BS in Physics? I am very sorry for this weird question, but it is just bugging the hell out of me. Thank you so much for all of your time and any help.
 

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  • #2
Choppy
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I think it's a good idea to look into this kind of thing. Sometimes "concentration" degrees do not qualify the student for graduate school - if that's a door you want to keep open. I would contact the physics department at the school and find out if people who graduate from this program are typically accepted into graduate school.

One option that might be available is to start out in this school and then transfer to one with a "regular" program part way through.
 
  • #3
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Oh wow, I had no idea about that. That is definitely something to keep in mind. From what I see, the program is pretty much the same as a normal physics degree. Also it seems all the degrees at this school would be considered a "concentration" degree. It would just seem hard to believe in this case that every BA/BS degree you would receive from this SUNY school, would make you ineligible for a graduate program. I hope not.
 
  • #4
Choppy
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I didn't mean to scare you. In all probability, if the courses are the same then it will be fine. It is important to look into these kinds of things though, because I have seen programs where "concentration" or "complimentary studies" means you are only required to take a couple senior level courses, which admissions committees many consider insufficient preparation for graduate work.
 
  • #5
jtbell
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From what I see, the program is pretty much the same as a normal physics degree.
What specific courses would you take to get a degree in Science, Math and Technology with a concentration in physics? I may be simply slow today, but after several minutes of browsing through the ESC web site (starting here for example), I couldn't find that out, just general guidelines.

I did find the following statment:

Empire State College does not have laboratory facilities. If you need to undertake laboratory-based studies, there may be computer simulations to replace at least some parts of the traditional laboratory, or you may want to enroll in a laboratory course at a traditional college.
IMO, if you want a physics degree that has any chance of being taken seriously, especially for graduate school, it needs to include laboratory work, both at the introductory and intermediate/advanced levels.
 
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I have to admit I too found their website kind of confusing in finding some specific information. This is the page they have on Physics: http://www.esc.edu/ESConline/Across_ESC/academics.nsf/wholeshortlinks2/Physics+Concentration?opendocument [Broken]
I would sit down with a "mentor" and map out a degree path. I went to an orientation, and the paper I had (I lost it), had a generic course layout which to me seemed to be the same as most traditional colleges if you look at a course layout on a colleges' website: http://physics.as.nyu.edu/page/undergrad or http://web.mit.edu/catalogue/degre.scien.ch8.shtml , and of course along with your normal general education courses. I would of course, from the onset, enroll in the respective labs in a school near by. ESC of course accepts all of the credits, or if that school dosnt give you any credits for just taking a lab course, award you credits like a normal class. I can see what you mean though about being taken seriously. Maybe I shouldnt go for this. I dont know....
 
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From what I understand, it is guided independent study, along with some sit down classes. This is done in order to cater to the busy life style of adults. I like this alot, especially with the current economy. I do know that probably going to a regular traditional college would be beneficial, but I dont know if it is the right choice at this time. I currently have a real good job, and working a regular college schedule in would be somewhat detrimental to this job. This is also the closest school that makes studying possible, being as the next closest school that offers physics is Stony Brook, and they say they cater to the normal, weekday students. The next best schools which do cater to nighttime and weekend students, is CUNY which is in the city. I live in Suffolk County on Long Island, making that choice infeasible. I know it does come off as me defending my idea to go through with physics at this school, as I love physics ALOT, but I also do not want to waste my time and money with a degree that may not be taken seriously. I have just emailed the school in regards to their students acceptance rates into graduate programs.
 
  • #8
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IMO, if you want a physics degree that has any chance of being taken seriously, especially for graduate school, it needs to include laboratory work, both at the introductory and intermediate/advanced levels.
I agree.


I know it does come off as me defending my idea to go through with physics at this school, as I love physics ALOT, but I also do not want to waste my time and money with a degree that may not be taken seriously. I have just emailed the school in regards to their students acceptance rates into graduate programs.
Also find out where they ended up. If a student got a night-school MBA twenty years later, that's not what you are looking for, even if they technically went on to grad school.

Finally, did you see how often they offer various classes? It looked to me like you might never get to complete the typical undergrad curriculum at a traditional college.
 
  • #9
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A representative wrote back to me and said this:

"I am afraid I am unable to answer your questions. We do not keep statistics of the kind you are requesting. Our students create individualized degrees, so the number of students whose degrees would read "Science, Mathematics and Technology, concentration in physics," specifically, are few. I can tell you that in 2007-2008, we graduated 174 students with degrees within our Science, Mathematics and Technology area of study. Of all our bachelor's degrees, 6.7 percent in 2007-2008 were granted in that area of study. Our students are largely either mid-career or switching careers, not necessarily moving in what we think of as a more traditional trajectory of high school to college to graduate school. Our alumni association is beginning to compile information on what our students do over the years following graduation, but are doing so via surveys, and so data takes a while to compile. My best advice to you is to reach out to graduate programs in physics of interest to you and discuss with them what they look for in the undergraduate preparation of successful candidates. This will assist you invaluably in designing a course of study at the undergraduate level."

So that being said, I think I am going to do this: For now I will earn my Associates online in General Studies from AMU. Then I will transfer to a traditional school like CUNY who have night and weekend classes to move onto my Physics degree. I have already emailed all of the CUNY colleges who have a BS/BA in Physics inquiring as to their transfer policy if I were to have that Associates. I hope the response is positive, lol.
 

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