BS or MS in EE after physics BS?

In summary, the individual is considering pursuing a career in the field of electrical engineering (EE) after graduating with a BS in Physics. They are unsure if they should get a BS in EE or continue towards a Masters in EE. They have consulted with graduate programs and have been told that they may need to take additional courses or obtain a minor in EE to be accepted into an MSEE program. They are interested in power systems and believe that a MS in physics with a concentration in EE may be less employable than an EE degree. However, they have also been told that a MS in EE is very specialized and may not provide the same breadth of study as a BS in EE. They may also have to pay for their MS without securing funding
  • #1
Mahmoud Hamsho
8
0
Hey,

I will be graduating soon with a BS in Physics but have recently developed a interest to pursue a career in the EE field. I was planning to just head to a Masters program in EE, but the more I read up I am realizing that there is a difference in having a BS in EE and MS in EE. I am reading that the BS is a stronger degree than the MS, so should I suck it up and head back to get my BS in EE or should I continue towards a Masters. Which one do companies prefer? and is there a difference in years I will be spending in school between the two?
 
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  • #2
In truth, you probably can't get into an MSEE program, unless your BS in Physics is loaded up with a good portion of EE classes or shared EE/Physics classes. While Electromag / fields may be shared, most others are not. What is your background in circuit design or power? EE is a broad field too.
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You might not need a BS in EE to get into an MSEE, but you will likely need to take another year of college or find some way to get a minor in EE to have a chance to get an MSEE.
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As for employability, usually an MSEE will be more sought after, but employers also want experience with knowledge and at a salary they can afford. So a BS in EE out of school will be a better investment to most companies than an MSEE (with NO experience). Anyone interested in you, would be for research purposes and now you are back to square one, why not get your MS in Physics? You can concentrate on EE type coursework with a physics slant.
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Just my 2 cents.
 
  • #3
I have emailed few graduate EE programs in regards
CalcNerd said:
In truth, you probably can't get into an MSEE program, unless your BS in Physics is loaded up with a good portion of EE classes or shared EE/Physics classes. While Electromag / fields may be shared, most others are not. What is your background in circuit design or power? EE is a broad field too.
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You might not need a BS in EE to get into an MSEE, but you will likely need to take another year of college or find some way to get a minor in EE to have a chance to get an MSEE.
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As for employability, usually an MSEE will be more sought after, but employers also want experience with knowledge and at a salary they can afford. So a BS in EE out of school will be a better investment to most companies than an MSEE (with NO experience). Anyone interested in you, would be for research purposes and now you are back to square one, why not get your MS in Physics? You can concentrate on EE type coursework with a physics slant.
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Just my 2 cents.
I emailed a few graduate programs about me being a physics major and most told me I should be fine and i would just be taking a few undergrad EE courses to catch up. So I don't think getting into a MS program is the issue. As for my field of interest its in Power Systems.

Getting a MS in physics with a concentration in EE seems like its much less employable than an EE degree.
 
  • #4
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
I have emailed few graduate EE programs in regards
I emailed a few graduate programs about me being a physics major and most told me I should be fine and i would just be taking a few undergrad EE courses to catch up. So I don't think getting into a MS program is the issue. As for my field of interest its in Power Systems.

Getting a MS in physics with a concentration in EE seems like its much less employable than an EE degree.

Any degree in the natural sciences is much less employable than a degree in engineering. That said, the only reason I could see that you'd want to go back and get an EE bachelors is to help with obtaining a PE license, this probably isn't very important for EE's.

If you already know what you'd want to study for your MS in engineering, then you should be able to take enough classes as electives/non degree student/self study to be adequately prepared. I've never done an MS for engineering, but the people I know that have say a MS is very specialized in one area of EE, so if you have the background in this area you should be fine.

What'll be lacking is the breadth of study that bachelors in the field would provide. Will you be accepted into a program as easily as an EE major? Probably not. Will you get a job as easily? Probably not. Is it impossible to do either? Probably not.

You'll also be paying for your MS, unlike physics were most students can secure funding, engineering isn't going to work the same way. This also helps with getting accepted into a program, and you would probably be able to take catch up classes on your own dime.
 
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  • #5
Student100 said:
Any degree in the natural sciences is much less employable than a degree in engineering.

I think I have to differ with the "much".Carnevale et al. "College Majors, Employment and Earnings" (2012) lists unemployment rates for recent college graduates at 7.7% for the life and physical sciences and 7.5% for engineering. (And for graduate degree holders, the trend reverses, to 2.2% and 3.4%) Earnings are another story - recent college grads in the life and physical sciences start at $32K vs $55K for engineers. (However, physics seems to be an exception - they do not report the recent college graduate salary, but salaries for experienced college grads is $81K, the same as the engineering average)
 
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  • #6
Student100 my main concern is if I were to get into a MSEE program and graduate will i be at a less advantage than a person with a Bachelors? And wouldn't most MSEE programs be able to provide internship ooportunities to help gain experience?
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50 said:
I think I have to differ with the "much".Carnevale et al. "College Majors, Employment and Earnings" (2012) lists unemployment rates for recent college graduates at 7.7% for the life and physical sciences and 7.5% for engineering. (And for graduate degree holders, the trend reverses, to 2.2% and 3.4%) Earnings are another story - recent college grads in the life and physical sciences start at $32K vs $55K for engineers. (However, physics seems to be an exception - they do not report the recent college graduate salary, but salaries for experienced college grads is $81K, the same as the engineering average)

Interesting, I didn't know that.

I had read something from a less accurate source (news article) a few years ago that had it in the ~20% range for natural science majors, versus ~11% for engineering. It may have just been my mistake, as now that I think about it, it had the caveat of "related employment." I think math bachelors were the most employable in that break out, with physics at the worse end of the spectrum, nearing 30%.
 
  • #8
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
Student100 my main concern is if I were to get into a MSEE program and graduate will i be at a less advantage than a person with a Bachelors? And wouldn't most MSEE programs be able to provide internship ooportunities to help gain experience?

Are you going to do a MS, a MEng, or a MAS?

UCSD offers a MAS and with some internships at Qualcomm for their wireless embedded systems program. At least they used to. It also includes a capstone project.

You should contact the program you're interested in and inquire to them if they offer internships/projects/work experience/and sources of funding, I don't know.

You aren't going to have all the skills an EE bachelors would get you, so when employers are asking for general experience in EE you don't have, you'd be at a disadvantage most likely - it's impossible to say for sure.
 
  • #9
Student100 said:
Are you going to do a MS, a MEng, or a MAS?

UCSD offers a MAS and with some internships at Qualcomm for their wireless embedded systems program. At least they used to. It also includes a capstone project.

You should contact the program you're interested in and inquire to them if they offer internships/projects/work experience/and sources of funding, I don't know.

You aren't going to have all the skills an EE bachelors would get you, so when employers are asking for general experience in EE you don't have, you'd be at a disadvantage most likely - it's impossible to say for sure.
I am leaning more towards a MEng. So in the end would it be worth it for me to go after the Masters if I am less competitive than a BS or should i just go back and get the BSEE?
 
  • #10
I
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
I am leaning more towards a MEng. So in the end would it be worth it for me to go after the Masters if I am less competitive than a BS or should i just go back and get the BSEE?

I have a been able to gain some experience in EE l. I was part of a physics research lab where I had to do a lot of soldering, tuning RF circuits, used network analyzers and oscilloscope. I have designed RF curcuits and built them, but at the end of the day I have a physics degree so I couldn't get any EE internships.
 
  • #11
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
I am leaning more towards a MEng. So in the end would it be worth it for me to go after the Masters if I am less competitive than a BS or should i just go back and get the BSEE?

Is it worth another 80k in students loans for a new bachelors then MS? I can't answer that for you. Once you find a job with a BS in physics and MS in engineering, get some work experience, pay off any loans you have, the degree will become gradually less important.
 
  • #12
Student100 said:
Is it worth another 80k in students loans for a new bachelors then MS? I can't answer that for you. Once you find a job with a BS in physics and MS in engineering, get some work experience, pay off any loans you have, the degree will become gradually less important.

I think it will be much less than that. Tuition at CUNY is about 3500 a semester and most likely with my degree I will cut my time shorter i am guessing i can get the BS in 2-3 yrs. That being said would you change your response?
 
  • #13
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
II have a been able to gain some experience in EE l. I was part of a physics research lab where I had to do a lot of soldering, tuning RF circuits, used network analyzers and oscilloscope. I have designed RF curcuits and built them, but at the end of the day I have a physics degree so I couldn't get any EE internships.

Great, why don't you find a MS in engineering for something RF related? Signal processing for satellite modems, antenna design, link budgets, etc? If you can solder, know how to use NA, OS, Spec Ans, etc, then you already have many of the skills people find useful in those types of fields. Signal processing is pretty hot right now.
 
  • #14
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
I think it will be much less than that. Tuition at CUNY is about 3500 a semester and most likely with my degree I will cut my time shorter i am guessing i can get the BS in 2-3 yrs. That being said would you change your response?

No, it's up to you. Will CUNY let you enroll in a second bachelors? Not every school will.
 
  • #15
Yes, I would be able to apply for a second bachelors, and my time would be shorter as compared to a freshmen just starting off as EE major.
 
  • #16
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
Yes, I would be able to apply for a second bachelors, and my time would be shorter as compared to a freshmen just starting off as EE major.

To me it wouldn't be worth it, but if it is to you, and you don't mind the expense, go for it.
 
  • #17
So you think with my previous experience joining a Masters program in Signal Processing would make more sense?
 
  • #18
Mahmoud Hamsho said:
So you think with my previous experience joining a Masters program in Signal Processing would make more sense?

It's an option. The whole point of not going to get a second bachelors is to save time and money for something that will become less important as time goes on in your career.

If you already have experience with the tools used in RF engineering - would be able to put that you know what a smith chart is, what modulated RF is, how to use various test equipment, and other general RF things on a resume- then it makes sense to get a masters in engineering that focuses on this background knowledge to me. Signal processing is just one option. You'll be able to meet more criteria that employers are looking for in a entry level engineer, and need less background EE classes to get up to speed.

You might have a harder time initially finding a entry level job, but once you do and gain experience, there is no added benefit to get a second bachelors in engineering. This is all just my assumptions and very limited experience, but maybe someone else can provide better input.
 
  • #19
My BS was in Physics and I am currently in a master's of engineering focusing in in electronics and materials.

On average, as already posted, most likely you will be required to take certain BS courses. In my case I entered a program that was VERY receptive of hard science students. They cared more about my quantitative background.

It's not impossible to find work, but it does become difficult when they specifically seek a BS person. However a good internship usually patches this over as already mentioned.

Another thing to consider is school. Elephant in the room is that not all engineering schools are created equal. Some institutions have more lenient standards, so your physics background could be more than sufficient in those cases.
 
  • #20
CalcNerd said:
In truth, you probably can't get into an MSEE program, unless your BS in Physics is loaded up with a good portion of EE classes or shared EE/Physics classes.

That's not true, this is anecdotal but I knew a math major/physics minor who got into an MSEE program. She was required to take some remidial classes like circuits, electronics, signals and such but nothing 'loaded up' to speak of.
 

Related to BS or MS in EE after physics BS?

1. What is the difference between a BS and MS in EE after a physics BS?

A BS (Bachelor of Science) in EE (Electrical Engineering) is an undergraduate degree that typically takes four years to complete. It provides a broad foundation in the principles and theories of electrical engineering, but may not delve deeply into specific topics. An MS (Master of Science) in EE is a graduate degree that builds upon the knowledge gained in a BS program and allows for specialization in a particular area of EE. It usually takes an additional 1-2 years to complete.

2. Can I pursue an MS in EE after a physics BS?

Yes, it is possible to pursue an MS in EE after completing a BS in physics. Many universities offer bridge programs or prerequisite courses for students with a non-EE undergraduate degree. It is important to research and carefully plan your course of study to ensure that you meet the requirements for the MS program.

3. Will my physics background be sufficient for an MS in EE?

Having a BS in physics can provide a strong foundation for an MS in EE. However, there may be some gaps in knowledge and skills that will need to be filled through prerequisite courses or self-study. It is important to research the specific requirements of the MS program you are interested in to determine if your physics background is sufficient.

4. What career opportunities are available with an MS in EE after a physics BS?

An MS in EE can open up a variety of career opportunities, such as working as an electrical engineer in industries such as telecommunications, power systems, or electronics. With a physics background, you may also be well-suited for research and development positions in areas such as renewable energy, semiconductors, or nanotechnology.

5. Is it worth getting an MS in EE after a physics BS?

This ultimately depends on your career goals and interests. An MS in EE can provide more specialized knowledge and skills, and may lead to higher paying job opportunities. It can also open up doors for research and development positions. However, it is important to consider the time and financial commitment required for an MS program and weigh it against potential career benefits.

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