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Active Duty USAF wanting Physics/CS/ECE Degree(s)

  1. Dec 19, 2014 #1
    I've looked all over this forum for the past year or two.. Really, I've just been lurking because I can't actively participate in many of the conversations on here. Love the information this forum has.

    So, I'm currently an electrician who is active duty in the United States Air Force, and I want to pursue an education in Physics. I am almost finished with my Associates Degree from the Community College of the Air Force, I will be finished this upcoming semester, and when I get into college, I can start at Calculus level; my bases are covered.

    The problem is that there are very, very few local schools here; and of those that are here, they are too expensive to be in them part-time, and don't even offer Physics.

    So what I need is advice.

    My interests are primarily Physics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Engineering; in that order.

    My plan is Physics, background in an electrical-based engineering, and a minor in Computer Science. Ultimately I want many options available in the future. I love the whole idea of Quantum Physics, I love applied sciences, computer science, I want to work with Quantum Computing, Computational Physics, or just have the knowledge to decide if I actually want to do something else in the sciences.

    While active duty I need to do online programs. Should I do Computer Science, Physics, or some type of Engineering degree online?

    After I get out, I can always earn another bachelor's in something... Which, ideally, I wanted a Physics/EE (B.S. EE) dual degree and minor in CS... But that won't work out quite well until I'm out of the military (in 4 years), by then I'll be 26.

    Sorry for being so wordy, I just thought a full grasp of the situation would be most beneficial to anyone trying to help me. Any help would be highly appreciated! What do you all suggest?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2014 #2

    Stephen Tashi

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    To get good advice, I suggest you clarify what kind of onlne work you can do. By "online degree" do you mean an online course that counts as credit for a college degree? Are these courses offered by the government? - or are they from brick-and-mortar universities? - or are they from places that are strictly for online education?
     
  4. Dec 21, 2014 #3
    By online degree, I mean a degree from an accredited university (preferably regionally accredited and not-for-profit) taking classes that may either consist of only a month long "semester" in which you can only take one or two classes maximum that month; or a regular online program where you are enrolled for the whole Spring/Fall/Summer semesters.

    I just want to get into a school that is either completely online and gives a Bachelors Degree after accomplishing 120 semester hours of coursework. Something like a distance learning program from a brick and motor university.

    I need an online education because I'm stuck in a small town in Montana, due to the Air Force, and can't just up and leave; there are no local brick and mortor universities that offer a degree in Physics. The closest would be Montana State University, and that's a 4 hour drive, and they do not have an online program, nor do they have a satellite school/campus that I can enroll in for Physics (they have some for other programs, I believe).

    Sorry I wasn't clear before, I guess I didn't really know how to ask for what I am wanting, quite honestly.

    Edit:

    I actually talked to a Doctor of Physics when I was looking into schools; he is in charge of the department of physics at Old Dominion University. His advice to me was that I should look into EdX courses, as they have excellent free courses offered by MIT. He clearly stated there is no college credit for these courses; but the knowledge is still incredibly useful to challenge courses in the future, for when I can take a residency at a school after I'm out of the military (in 4 years). He also suggested MIT's archived Physics course materials, as they are also completely free.

    He recommended in the mean time that I take up another degree; in which case, I would take up Computer Science as there are plenty of online programs for it, and I have a passion for it already (instead of taking it as a minor like I wanted to). It seemed pretty solid to me overall; but I still would like to earn my Physics Major and get a CS Minor, but I mean I can get a CS Major and take another full degree down the road in Physics, I suppose. What does everyone else think about it?
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  5. Dec 21, 2014 #4

    Stephen Tashi

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    As to the general question of which online degree to pursue, I don't know to give general advice. On one hand, if you want to major in physics it would made sense to study physics online. On the other hand, if you end up at in Physics 303 at a brick and mortar university, the teacher may as "As I emphasized in Physics 302,....". The intermediate and advanced courses at a given university can be unique to that university.

    If you mention some specific onlne programs, some forum member may know about them. I don't know about online programs.

    You should look into the specifics for each field of study, including the bureacratic complications. For example, perhaps an online course counts for general credit at most universities, but a particular department at a particular university could baulk at counting the course for credit toward a major. For example, at a university there might be 3 versions of introductory statistics, one taught by the math department, one taught by the economics department and one taught by the engineering department. Sometimes a university has separate organizations within it, like "The School Of Economics", "The School Of Engineering".
     
  6. Dec 21, 2014 #5
    I see what you're saying.. It makes sense. Well, whatever program I ended up getting into, I would just stick it out until I have my degree in it; because a university is much more likely to take a degree rather than trying to get in as a transfer with nothing but a college transcript.

    I really just want a recognized education in Physics. A degree. If it's best to wait until I'm at a University full-time, so be it, I'll pursue a different degree in the meantime. I just really need to know what course of action I should take, as recommended by anyone, for earning my Physics degree.

    I've read that there are a lot of labs you have to do which is primarily why it's difficult to find any type of online physics degree program. I just really want to do Physics, I always have, I joined the military to pay for the schooling; the sooner I can start, the better. It might not be a Berkeley level education, but it's a piece of paper that says, "You can probably bet I know Physics better than someone who doesn't have this piece of paper." It gives me job opportunities and more schooling opportunities, even if I have to redo some credits.

    Do you think I should wait until I'm out of the military to more actively pursue a degree in physics? -- and in the meantime pursue another degree.
    Or should I keep searching for any program I can find in it, and start on my Physics education as soon as possible?
     
  7. Dec 21, 2014 #6

    Cod

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    As a fellow Armed Forces member, I understand what you're going through. It took me forever to find/decide on a program to go through. I ended up going through UMUC and just graduated with a BS in computer science and minor in mathematics. It wasn't the "best" experience, but I feel like I learned a lot.

    Specific to your situation, Arizona St. University offers an ABET accredited Electrical Engineering degree completely online (https://asuengineeringonline.com/degree-programs/bs-electrical-engineering). If EE is something you're interested in, this may be a route to look into. I'm looking into ASU's graduate programs in engineering right now actually.
     
  8. Dec 21, 2014 #7

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    Any serious physics degree program has to include a significant amount of laboratory work. I suspect that is the biggest obstacle for an online physics degree program, and the reason why you can't find any.

    I've read here that in the UK, the Open University offers a physics degree via distance learning; but it includes laboratory components which have to be taken at affiliated bricks-and-mortar universities. It's probably for that reason that the OU does not make its physics degree available to US residents.
     
  9. Dec 21, 2014 #8
    I problem that I see would be the lab work. Almost any science related degree involves a great deal of lab work and online degrees don't typically give you the opportunity to do lab work. If there are Physics degrees online they would be minimal and expensive... maybe requiring you to purchase lab work yourself. I honestly think you should major in computer science and take a lot of math courses. Actually why don't you major in math because that is what Physics is about then you can take a Math BS and enroll in a Physics Masters program with it. Broadening your horizons with both degrees.
     
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