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Schools Difficult decision: domestic masters or graduate school abroad?

  • Thread starter insynC
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Hey all,

I'm currently facing a difficult decision about the next step in my academic career and I was wondering if anyone here might be able share any insights or perhaps explain how they got through a similar situation.

Sorry in advance for a long post, no need to read the whole thing, any advice I could get in respect to any part of this decision would be great.

Essentially I'm an Australian undergraduate student coming to the end of a five year double degree (Physics/Law) and am debating whether I should do a masters in Physics in Australia next year and then apply for Grad School in the US/UK or instead apply for Grad School straight away. Both decisions have their pros and cons and I'm finding myself struggling to separate them.

Here are some of the things that are specifically troubling me over the decision:

  • If I apply for Grad School next year and get rejected I can always do Masters here and apply again at the end of that. I'm concerned that by not applying I may not be maximising my chances of getting in.
  • Were I to apply to Grad School after Masters my good marks from undergrad (see below) may be viewed with far less importance in my application, which I feel may be a waste of my hard work over the last few years.
  • Masters in Australia is essentially equivalent to the coursework you do in the first two years of Grad School (plus you write a thesis). In that sense I may have to double up on some coursework later in Grad School.
  • On the other hand, although I am very passionate about Physics, I have not yet narrowed down exactly which field I am interested in working in. In an ideal situation if I was offered entrance into more than one grad school I would currently probably just choose the more prestigious one, whereas after a year or two of solid research experience in masters I would be in a better position to choose the one that does work I'm more interested in.
  • I get on very well with several faculty members at my University and would ask them to write my reference letters if I applied to Grad School. However they are very keen for me to do masters and I am concerned they may be offended/annoyed if I apply for Grad school straight away and this would harm my chances in an application. I am not at all saying they would be anything but professional, but of course I think I would get a better reference if I did masters with one of them.
  • The big shortcoming in my application at the moment is I don't have anything published and only have limited research experience (see below). Masters would obviously be a good way to improve this.
  • On a personal level as much as I do want to go overseas to do Physics, leaving friends and family behind is going to be a very difficult step. Doing masters would let me postpone this till I'm a bit older/more mature (not that this may make it any easier!).

In terms of how the decision may impact on my chances of getting into Grad School I feel I better give a brief list of my credentials. I have a 4.0 GPA in my Physics subjects done in Australia and from a semester exchange at UC Berkeley (where I did 4 upper div subjects and got A/A+ for all). I sat the GRE a month ago and did very well in all parts and have the PGRE next week. In terms of research I am a bit lacking. I did the summer student programme at CERN last year and have worked in the Physics department at my uni for a few months, but have only being doing programming/analysis for other people - nothing of my own yet.


Sorry again for such a huge post! I am thinking at the moment that perhaps in truth both choices are perfectly good and I shouldn't worry about it so much, but still any input on any part of it would be truly appreciated.

Cheers
 
it is more or less my queries too, so any one please reply..:)
 
Hello,

My recommendation is that you apply to the schools in the US and UK that you really want to go to and see if you get into any of them. At the same time, you should apply for the Masters program in Australia which sounds like you should have no problem getting into. Of course, your chances of getting into a certain school is heavily dependent on the school but it seems like you have a strong profile and therefore I would say you stand a decent chance of getting in somewhere (and by somewhere I mean a university in the US...I am not familiar with UK universities so can't comment.)

If you are not pleased with the results of your applications (or don't really want to leave home at that time), then go ahead and do your masters in Australia and reapply at the end of the program when you have more research experience and coursework under your belt (which will only serve to increase your chances of admission.)

This is just my opinion but it seems like this plan will give you the best opportunities and is a win-win situation whatever happens.

Hope this helps!
 
68
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Thanks Someone, I think that sounds like the best approach.
 
Glad to help. Good luck with all the applications!
 

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