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BS in Finance -> Masters in Physics. Hi, I need help please

  1. Jun 10, 2015 #1
    Hey everyone - I have a BS in Finance and have been working in Private Equity for a couple years now. This past year I have been having the 25 year old, "wtf do I want to do with my life" quarter-life crisis.

    I have been highly interested in Physics my entire life. Always fascinated by the world, stars, you name it. I am born and raised just across the water from NYC. With my father in the business, I guess you can say I was trained to enter the finance world. Almost three years out of college, I am having second thoughts...

    So I am thinking of going for a Masters in Physics (preferably in Europe... Barcelona WOW) and have my eye on the Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona. They have a pretty interesting degree called High Energy Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology taught in English. This covers my general interest of the field. Other than my Physics and Calculus courses that I took in the past (earned A's in both), I don't much of a background.


    I reached out to the head of the department at UAB who pretty much said, "it is a specialized area so you may have trouble... but you can try." He also said there is a Biologist who is in the course who is doing very well. I know Finance is not a "science" in that nature but this gave me some confidence that I would do well. Science has always come more natural to me.

    I am in the beginning stages of actually going forward with this but am definitely serious with my intentions!

    What do you guys think? Am I being ridiculous here?
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  3. Jun 10, 2015 #2


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    I like to study about stars, too, but I found it was easier and cheaper to buy a few books on the subject than to buy a new career.

    I don't know enough about this graduate program which interests you in Barcelona. Are you willing to pick up and move from NYC to live in Spain for a couple of years or whatever the length of this program is? Sure, instruction will be in English, but are you fluent enough in Spanish (I mean Spanish Spanish) (or Catalan) to get by in day to day life? Do you have enough funds set aside to support yourself during your studies?

    Looking forward, what do you plan to do with your degree once you finish this course of study?

    These are just a few questions off the top of my head.
  4. Jun 10, 2015 #3
    SteamKing - Thank you for the response.

    I understand what you're saying about interests, etc... I am a firm believer that we only get one shot at this life thing! With a solid background in finance along with making quality connections along the way has given me the notion that I could always come back, per say. At this point, I really just want to take what I am interested in and what makes me happy and run with it.

    My father is a duel citizen of the US and Ireland which has allowed me to be eligible for a European passport. This would be a great help! It is easy for us Americans to stay here and never leave. I would like to venture out and see the world while I still can. I learned Italian in high school and college but no Spanish. Rosetta Stone has helped me learn the basics so far. Learning the language isn't on top of my worry list as I feel comfortable (and interested) with learning a new language. The university apparently has great Spanish courses as well.

    I would have a job lined up wherever I chose to go. A family member has a business where they would be open to opening an office in a European city where I could have a business development role. This would be sufficient for the time being, financially.

    All great questions. Again, I am at the point where I am not Exactly sure where I want to be in 10 years, career wise. I am spitting out my thoughts here and I appreciate the feedback.

  5. Jun 10, 2015 #4
  6. Jun 10, 2015 #5
    You will start immediately with the masters? What is your current physics knowledge? Do you have a solid understanding of classical mechanics, E&M, quantum mechanics, etc. ? What about math?

    You know what they always say: the grass always looks greener on the other side...
  7. Jun 10, 2015 #6
    Will they be teaching you the equivalent of a BS in physics before you receive your MS degree? Also, I understand the quarter-life crisis, but maybe you would want to do some more planning before making quite that leap. There's quite a difference between enjoying science and doing a master's degree in physics. Why not take a few physics courses at a stateside university to make sure that you're up for the rigor?
  8. Jun 10, 2015 #7
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    I wouldn't be going for the masters until 2016 so I do have time to take a few classes beforehand. They will not be teaching undergrad level physics before the MS.

    There are numerous schools in NYC that offer undergrad level physics courses that I have been looking at. The only problem with those is that I am not sure I will have enough time to reach the QM and E&M due to prerequisites. I understand that I would be an underdog throughout the process. Also - I do not want to come off as a cocky person but I do feel confident in my ability to grasp a subject. Although I am sure there will be topics I will come across and think, "oh boy what is that!"

    Granted I were to be accepted into a MS Physics program - I am trying to figure out a way to be as prepared as possible to avoid that "oh boy" moment.

    I have found a few different "online schools." Have you heard anything about these?

    Again - I do not want to come off as an over confident d***. I appreciate everyone on here's opinion and have the upmost respect for your knowledge. I am just trying to give you a picture of where I am at and what my thought process is.

  9. Jun 10, 2015 #8
    It takes 3-4 years for somebody to be ready for a masters in physics, and you are planning to do it in a half year time? This sounds like a very horrible idea.
    You don't know what physics is until you did classical mechanics, E&M and quantum mechanics. You don't know whether you'll pick it up quickly, or whether you'll even like it.
  10. Jun 10, 2015 #9
    Yes! I've been waiting for a very realistic, non-sugar coated post. Thank you for this.

    I have about a year and a half until I would begin the program. That gives me some time to get the basics. Thanks again for clarifying that.
  11. Jun 10, 2015 #10
    So if you won't have time to reach quantum and E&M... what will you be taking?
  12. Jun 11, 2015 #11
    A year and a half is still twice faster than regular students. But at least it will give you a good idea whether you'll like this stuff and whether you can handle it. Don't stick to your schedule too rigidly, if it ends up that you won't make it in a year and a half, then don't be discouraged.

    What math do you know?
  13. Jun 11, 2015 #12
    There is no will yet as I am not signed up for anything. It is going to depend on which university I would take classes at as each have different prerequisites. I made the assumption that I may not be able to get to those courses by looking at two schools that offered them.
  14. Jun 11, 2015 #13
    Definitely. My schedule is certainly loose. Really all of the maths that were necessary for my finance degree. Statistics courses, calculus, etc.
  15. Jun 11, 2015 #14
    I'll come out and say it... It does sound a little ridiculous.

    You don't even really know what you want to do with that master's degree. It reads like you would probably use a family connection to work in finance after it? If that is the case, this is just an expensive and time consuming hobby then right?

    To put high energy physics/astrophysics/cosmology education to work you will need a PhD, at least. Most PhDs cant get work in those fields. Often physics graduates at all levels come to this forum desperate for career marketability wondering how they can get into finance... I think you can see the irony.

    If you actually want a job in physics you should plan on working towards a PhD. I am skeptical that you can start right out at a MS level with your background. It would probably be easier for you to get a physics BS first rather than trying to study it on your own. If you just want some kind of technical job that is not in finance I suggest studying engineering.
  16. Jun 11, 2015 #15
    Thank you for being honest.

    I have a Finance degree and even after 3 years of work, I don't know what I want to do with that either. There has to be a solid percentage of people that still don't know what they want to do with their career. I don't want to be 35-45 years old and still feel that way. I am not saying that I dislike Finance but I don't know if I want to do it forever. I do know that finance and sciences always came natural to me. To be honest, sciences came even more natural and I actually enjoyed the subject.

    I added in the family connection comment to make it known that I wouldn't be completely - for the lack of a better word - screwed... if the Physics didn't work out. If that DID happen than you are correct. It would be an expensive hobby, but maybe a worthwhile one as it would be a great experience to live in Europe, and give something I felt strongly about a good shot. The programs in Europe (Spain) are significantly cheaper. Cheap enough to where I could get a MS in Physics and turn around and go for another MS in Finance if I decided to and still save money by going to Europe.

    That is great to know. Thank you for that info.

    Oh the irony is clear. Before posting this thread I saw numerous Physics students trying to get into Finance. I seem to be the only one doing the latter! There seems to be a few schools offering a Physics Minor. This consists of courses like, Physics 1 through 3 and two other higher level classes that I can't tell but they do not seem to be QM or E&M.

    I have not done much research in Engineering courses but I will take a look.
  17. Jun 11, 2015 #16
    You have mentioned this several times now. But what experience with physics did you actually have that shows this? If it is only high school physics (or similar), then you really shouldn't base much on it. Physics in university is very different and more difficult. Over 50% of the freshman students (in my country) drop out or change majors to something not involving physics. This has to do with that the material is difficult, but also because physics is very different than what they expected. It's good to have a year and a half to prepare for this so you can actually see what it's like.
  18. Jun 11, 2015 #17

    Yes, I have as there are multiple people responding. I have taken Physics at the high school level and two courses in college. I understand my level of physics knowledge is certainly not impressive but I would not compare my level of knowledge, interest and experience to that of a freshman in college. About 80% of students in the United States change their major as well. I already have a degree and strong work experience. If I am going to go back to school, it is going to be something I am 110% focused on. With all do respect - I came here to ask for advice on how to reach this goal, not to "show you" my experience in physics.
  19. Jun 11, 2015 #18
    ya show me a pay stub fa 72,000 on it I quit my job right now and I work fa you
  20. Jun 11, 2015 #19
    Lmao on a side note our avatars are arguably the two most entertaining supporting roles in the past decade, plus.

    Kind of appropriate for this thread as I am considering quitting! Anyway...
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