Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Applied or theoretical physics.

  1. Sep 1, 2012 #1
    I have a very simple and straightforward question.
    This has been troubling me for quiet a long time now.

    Can i go for a phd in theoretical physics with a masters in applied physics ?
    I basically mean to say that:
    Will applied physics degree create any kind of hindrance for phd in theoretical physics ?
    Do i really need to go only for theoretical physics right from my graduate level.......
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2012 #2
    Well it depends what areas of each you will have studied and want to study.
  4. Sep 1, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    This is a very strange question.

    What do you mean by "theoretical physics" and "applied physics"? Would you consider Solid State/Condensed matter physics as 'applied'? If you do, do you think such a field does not have theoretical studies?

    As I've written already, a lot of people do not really have a proper understanding of what "theoretical physics" mean.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/blog.php?b=3727 [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Sep 3, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    I may be mistaken about this, but from what I understand from the OP's post, there are a number of colleges/universities that offer a specialized MS degree in "applied physics", the specific contents of the degree varying but more often than not focusing on either a combination of experimental physics courses with courses in numerical analysis, electrical engineering, or something along those lines, usually tailored for those intending to work in industry (something not unlike degree programs like engineering physics).

    I think what the OP is wondering is whether someone who earns a MS in a program like I described above will still have a decent chance of being accepted into a regular PhD program in physics, or will he/she face disadvantages because of the specialized nature of the MS degree.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Sep 5, 2012 #5
    Based on what I've heard, after the masters you're somewhat limited. Not at all will you be limited in which specific fields you pursue, but on a general scale (going from computational to string theory etc.), switching would probably not be a good idea/wouldn't be allowed to. There really aren't many "theoretical physicists," to begin with. It's pretty rare.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook