BS Physics to Materials Science Graduate Advice/Thoughts

In summary, a junior in physics is looking for advice on pursuing a Materials Science degree in grad school. They are currently limited to taking an introductory materials science course and are seeking general advice and resources. They list their planned physics and math courses and mention potentially taking courses in optics and numerical analysis. They also mention their interest in materials science and engineering and provide advice from their own experience, recommending courses in physical chemistry, lab experience, and exploring courses in other departments.
  • #1
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Hello All,

I am currently a junior in physics and have set sights on Materials Science (Electronic Materials/Nanotechnology) for grad school. My school does not offer MS.Eng as a degree and so the only Materials Science course I can enroll in as the general "Introduction to Materials Science Course" offered for the other engineering majors mainly. I am looking for general advice that you may have such as courses I should take, websites/resources I should look into, etc. Please let me know your thoughts. Not looking for an exact roadmap but rather open to anything. Thanks in advance.

I will take the following physics and math courses this year and next year:

Physics: Electronics, Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism I and II, Thermodynamics/Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Intro to Solid State Physics, Contemporary Physics Lab I. Math: Linear Algebra.

The rest I will decide based on what research I could end up getting this summer, how my interests evolve after taking some of the above courses, discussions with faculty and industry (seminars etc.).

Physics Maybe: Optics
Math Maybe: Numerical Analysis (uses MATLAB), Partial Differential Equations, Intro to Complex Analysis, and a Statistics course for engineers/scientists. Topology.
 
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  • #2
I was hoping a recent grad would respond. But since no one has, I'll give you my advice, with the caveat that I haven't been in a classroom for several decades. I got my BS, MS, and PhD in physics, with a concentration in solid-state physics. Most of my physics classmates took their electives in math or EE, but I took most of my electives in materials science and engineering (though, in those days, metallurgy and materials science was a more common dept title). If you are interested in materials, a combo of physics and materials science is a very good path. The courses you've outlined are fine. Since your school doesn't have a specific materials science and engineering dept (if I understand your post correctly), then also consider the following courses in other depts, if offerred at your school:

(1) Make sure you take basic physical chemistry with a lab in your chem dept. If you have any interest in polymer materials, also take basic organic chem.
(2) Get into the lab anyway you can (either via coursework or independent research with a prof) and learn hands-on materials characterization techniques; e.g., sample prep, optical microscopy, electron microscopy, X-Ray diffraction, spectroscopy of various flavors...
(3) In addition to thermodynamics and stat mech in the physics dept, also take thermodynamics in the chem dept.
(4) Check for materials science related courses in other depts: e.g., mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, biology.

I've ranked ordered the above list with respect to priority in case you don't have time to fit them all in your schedule.
 
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Related to BS Physics to Materials Science Graduate Advice/Thoughts

1. What is the difference between BS Physics and Materials Science?

BS Physics is a broad undergraduate degree that focuses on the fundamental principles of physics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics. Materials Science, on the other hand, is a more specialized field that combines principles from physics, chemistry, and engineering to study the properties and applications of materials.

2. Is a BS Physics degree a good foundation for pursuing a graduate degree in Materials Science?

Yes, a BS Physics degree can provide a strong foundation for graduate studies in Materials Science. The fundamental principles of physics, along with critical thinking and problem-solving skills, are essential for understanding and researching materials at the atomic and molecular level.

3. What skills and knowledge should I focus on during my BS Physics degree to prepare for graduate studies in Materials Science?

It is important to have a strong understanding of core physics concepts, such as mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and thermodynamics. Additionally, courses in materials science, chemistry, and engineering can be beneficial. Developing skills in experimental design, data analysis, and scientific writing will also be valuable for graduate studies in Materials Science.

4. What are some potential career paths for someone with a graduate degree in Materials Science?

Graduates with a degree in Materials Science can pursue careers in various industries, including materials manufacturing, aerospace, biotechnology, and electronics. They may work as research scientists, materials engineers, quality control specialists, or product development managers.

5. What advice do you have for someone considering a graduate degree in Materials Science?

I would recommend gaining hands-on experience through internships or research opportunities in a materials science lab. It is also important to network and connect with professionals in the field. Additionally, stay updated on current advancements and research in the materials science industry to have a better understanding of potential career paths and opportunities.

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