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Considering a Masters Degree

  1. Mar 15, 2008 #1

    Firstly, I'm technically a senior working towards my Bachelors in Mathematical Science. I chose a physics concentration for my math degree. However, working with my advisors, I've taken several special topics classes (such as particle physics) to beef up my physics background.

    At the end of the day, I want to work with civil / structural engineers.

    So why didn't I jump into a civil engineering program from the start? Because I'm trying to build something more strongly geared to what I want to do. I could care less about building roads, dams, and bridges but the physics behind them interest me beyond belief.

    So here comes the problem...

    I've been looking at Marshall University. It is a great school, they have a physics program, and its close to home. I'm not planning on getting a Ph.D (at least not at the moment) but I am planning on getting a masters degree. Fortunately, Marshall also has a civil engineering program. The nature of Marshall's physics program is structured so that I could mix physics and civil engineering classes, essentially building a degree structured around what I want to do with my life. Assuming I completed the masters in Physics with a large blend of Civil Engineering, would I still be able to take a state test to become a state licensed civil engineer?

    How would I explain what I am? Engineer? Physicist? Both? or something in between?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2008 #2
    As far as Im aware, anyone can take the test. Though, I dont know why you are trying to do civil engineering while taking particle physics. This is apples and oranges. Civil engineering is the physics behind it. What do you think civil engineering is? I think you have a poor misconception about engineering if thats the case, maybe you should talk to the head of the civil department to get more information. I honestly dont see why you want to mix physics with civil engineering. A company is going to want someone that knows civil engineering and project management. Masters level physics is not going to make you look more qualified. But project management will. Civil projects are multi million/billion dollar investements. They need people who are qualified in dealing with deadlines, building codes, working with customers, and other engineers.

    If your masters degree says 'physics', you are not en engineer, and vice versa. This is because there is a 'school of engineering' and a 'school of physics' within the university. Each one is not ranked the same as the other. It would be misleading for you to say you have an 'engineering' degree from Marshall when you took classes in their 'physics' school.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2008
  4. Mar 15, 2008 #3
    If you want to get a P.E. license, as most civil engineers do, you need an accredited civil engineering degree. The masters would not be enough

    The physics and civil engineering are going to be more or less completely unrelated. And as a civil engineer you would be building roads, dams, and bridges, so I'm not sure if you'd even like this.

    If you truly want to be a civil engineer, you'd probably have to get a second bachelors degree.
  5. Mar 15, 2008 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't understand why you want to become a state licensed civil engineer, but don't actually want to do civil engineering. I also don't know what you are trying to accomplish by mixing particle physics with civil engineering, but I think it's fair to say that whatever it is, it's probably not going to do what you hope it well.

    State engineering certification varies by state. You need an engineering degree from an accredited program, although in some states one can get this waived if one has been supervised for some number of years (e.g. 8) by a PE. Note that this means an actual engineering degree, not just a bunch of courses in the department. This may be moot in your case, as Marshall's CE program seems not to be ABET certified.
  6. Mar 16, 2008 #5
    Whether you can take the EIT/FE exam, and later take the PE exam, without a formal bachelor's in engineering, depends on the state.

    For example, in Kansas, you can't. You could conceivably have a master's and Ph.D. in Engineering, teach Engineering coursework at a University, but you still couldn't take the FE exam and practice as a full Engineer until you get your bachelor's in engineering.

    Or so I was told by both an engineering school and one of the members of the state licensing board when I was considering jumping from physics to Engineering some time ago. His advice was to go to one of the states where they don't require an engineering undergrad degree to take the FE exam, and get into the profession that way (which I did not do).
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