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Choosing a Masters Degree- Physics or Engineering?

  1. Nov 20, 2008 #1
    I am a senior Engineering Physics Major at Eastern Michigan. The program is not ABET accredited, however the physics department is very good here. I have a good GPA and a strong love for physics (overall GPA >3.70, Physics GPA >3.90). The Engineering Physics major here is almost the same as the Physics Major. Here is a link to my major:


    For my Physics electives, I have taken Electricity and Magnetism, Intro to Quantum Mechanics, Intermediate Mechanics, and Mathematical Physics. I also have a math minor even though a minor is not required.

    I need to decide, pretty much ASAP what to get my masters degree in. I'm not sure how well qualified I am for other types of engineering, like electrical or civil.

    I'm also not sure I would enjoy grad physics as much as undergrad and I really don't want to do research for a living, so I'm thinking probably not physics. I want to solve problems and I also want to work with other people in groups, I don't want to be stuck off at a desk somewhere.

    I have been thinking about Electrical Engineering because I have really enjoyed my Electronics class. But I have also been considering civil engineering because it seems like job security might be a little better. I think it's most important to be able to get a job after I graduate.

    Any Advice?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2008 #2
    There will be job security in both of those engineering disciplines for a LONG time. The economy is in a slump right now sure, but changes aren't permanent (but change is), so sooner or later people will want to buy all sorts of trinkets again, and engineers will be needed to make those trinkets.

    I've worked with one person who has a Master's in physics. He worked for Boeing on acoustics for a few years, then switched to mainly programming, then had some sort of project jointly with the university I'm at (also programming), and then just jumped ship to the university and does coding for various research projects.

    So it's possible to get a job with a Master's in physics and it would probably be more varied than an engineering job, but you have to know how to sell yourself. Most of the time when you tell someone you do or know physics, they will ask "What's that?"

    They don't know. They think it's only standing in front of a chalk board and looking at equations, if anything. So you have to show the person who's hiring you that you can do what they want you to do.

    Also, a lot of schools offer Master's programs in applied physics, which might be more up your alley, since it would be easier to convince someone you can do what they want if your degree has the word "applied" on it. It's just how it works.
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