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Physics After Physics B.S., looking to change directions

  1. Jul 5, 2010 #1
    I'm obtaining a B.S. in Physics, but I'm thinking now that physics graduate school might not be the right thing for me. I'm interested in E.E. or computer controlled systems engineering, but I'm not sure how to correctly go about the change. Would I be capable of going directly into a graduate (M.S.) program in E.E. or C.C.S.E.? I'm the kind of person that seeks completeness and thorough understandings of material, in other words, I don't want the feeling when I'm in graduate school that I'm constantly missing something or have too many holes in my engineering knowledge. Is this something that would be expected for someone that transfers from physics to graduate engineering? The other option is just to get another undergraduate degree in E.E. I know graduate degrees put you in a completely different price bracket coming out of school though (not that I'm after money though), and I'm not sure how much dual majoring (I guess it would be) would help me obtain jobs, but more importantly, obtain the skills necessary to be a competent employee at said job :/

    Anyway, I'm wondering what people would do in my shoes. Is it worth it to seek out additional undergrad degrees or go for a graduate degree in this case? Would obtaining a E.E. (and also a Comp. Sci. degree while I'm at it.. <<) undergraduate degree in addition to physics be a good idea? I really don't ever hear about people obtaining 2/3 undergraduate degrees so I'm skeptical. However, I feel gaining the comp. sci. and E.E. knowledge is necessary for what kind of activities I think I'd like most in a job.

    I got the physics degree because I felt it was necessary to understand the world and know which direction I thus would want to take. It makes a great degree for people undecided going into college but know they want to do something scientific. That and I selfishly just wanted to learn about physics with no goal in mind.. <<
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2010 #2
    Yes, I've seen other people do it with relative ease. They usually report that the math was easier than what they experienced in the physics curriculum and they were able to catch up with the engineering knowledge.
    I think more people do it than you maybe realize. Even physics grad students sometimes work in other deparments like material science, etc.
    This is a little speculative, but I am almost positive that a BS + MS is more marketable and offers more opportunities than 2 BSs. Also, you may become about the money when you start getting tired of working so hard and you see your high school fiends start having babies and buying houses... or not maybe that's just me :shy:.
    If you go to grad school, the graduate school will likely pay you tuition (I can only speak to US grad school). In this case, you'll be able to take undergrad courses to fill the gaps for free. I've taken a number of undergrad courses to fill perceived gaps in my undergrad education. So, I don't think two BSs is necessary for a solid education.
    If you're early in your undergrad and there is significant overlap in the majors, I would consider double majoring. If it will take you more than 5 yrs to graduate, I would go to grad school, maybe pick up a minor if you want. Again, there are so many factor, but you asked what I would do, and this is what I would do.
    I was kind of in the same boat when I graduated. I wish I would have investigated the other possibilities more, I should have applied to non-physics grad programs and visited the departments, asked more questions etc. This may sound bad, but I would question your physics professors' advice. They always gave me great advice, but never anything other than how to get a physics phd.
    Physics is a good place to start for a lot of paths, and there are many other departments that are happy to take physics students for their quantitative backgrounds. It is my opinion that you shouldn't be worried at all to finish a physics BS and then continue on to an MS in another field.
  4. Jul 7, 2010 #3
    I would simply choose a Ms degree in EE and carefully choose the courses. If you need some basic stuff that you perceive as missing you can follow some undergraduate courses.
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