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Programs Dont Do Phd In Phyiscs

  1. Mar 28, 2007 #1
    Dont Do Phd In Phyiscs!!!


    Brian Schwartz (Brooklyn College and American Physical Society)
    "Is There Life After the Physics PhD?"
    Physics Colloquium, Oct. 10, 1996, 3:30 PM, 101 Osmond.
    and some associated meetings.

    [Removed rest of text the one can read in the link]
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 30, 2007 #2
    well does anyone agree with this artile??

    should they do a phd in physics or not??
  4. Mar 30, 2007 #3


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    1. This is from a 1996 article/speech.

    2. He's using statistics "... By 1992".

    So how up-to-date do you think this is?

    I and several others have given the link to the AIP job statistics webpage that has LOT more recent information that does match what you just quote.

    BTW, this is from a link and we much PREFER that you do not copy-and-paste it verbatim. Just give the link and that would be sufficient.

  5. Mar 30, 2007 #4
    how did you manage to eidt my post?
  6. Mar 30, 2007 #5


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    I wiggled my nose.

  7. Mar 30, 2007 #6
    moderators have this special ability.


  8. Mar 30, 2007 #7
    That paper is outdated, i'm sure we're in a much better situation now
  9. Mar 31, 2007 #8


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    It depends on your field. most of my colleagues who are physics postdocs in academia say no, the employment situation for physicists in general is not any better in fact it is far worse now. Just as it is for all PhDs in general. Faculty positions are scarce and highly competitive. Staff positions in national labs are not that common either as most federal agencies are experiencing budget cuts, many physicists are languishing as postdocs waiting indefinitely for academic or research positions to open up, or else are getting out of research and going into industry. Nothing wrong with going into industry, but in my experience most of us do a phD in science because we want to be research scientists. Then again, your field or specialty heavily influences the options available to you and how "transferable" you can be to other sectors or to being able to get in on the current and every-changing "hot" fields which is where there are positions available. My personal advice: don't do a PhD unless you are prepared for a difficult job search afterward.
  10. Mar 31, 2007 #9
    L62 - are you currently doing a phd in physics?
  11. Mar 31, 2007 #10


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    No I got my phd in mechanical engineering but my thesis was more material science. Most of my grad school friends went straight into industry after their phds, but I wanted to continue in research so I went to a national lab and sorta switched fields. Several of my friends, and most of my current set of colleagues, got their Phds in physics, many are having a tough time finding jobs beyond the postdoc. How about you?
  12. Mar 31, 2007 #11
    I think it is important to keep your options open. So far I have only decided on a masters in maths and physics. Maybe seeing what job openings there will be after your PhD and where they are likely to be could be a good idea. And there are always positions for physics lecturers - especially here in New Zealand.
  13. Apr 1, 2007 #12


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    i think all fields today... engineering, conmmerce, science, law... etc. have this problem of "over-production" where there are more graduates than job positions... exception: GPs and medical practitioners are short in supply. Govt.'s wish to push for a "knowledge nation" and that 90% or more of population should go to college or is encouraged to go, as a result, standard at uni/college is falling and usually only the better graduates will get a job.

    every year we get yet another "record high" enrolment numbers to gradute school, does that mean PhD gives ppl a better a career flexibility or better future? Does that means now we have more reserach/academic jobs available? ...doubtful... more like faculty wanting more money and down grading requirements.
  14. Apr 1, 2007 #13
    Another exception for people with degrees is town planning. There used to be a lot of uni grads going through Beca Carter, seven years ago there were ten new graduates, and this year there was one. How can we have a "knowledge nation" without the menial labourers?
  15. Apr 1, 2007 #14

    Dr Transport

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    As a PhD Physicist in industry, there are not any jobs here either, to the best of my knowledge we have not hired anyne with a PhD in a while (don't ask for whom I work because I won't say). My friends in other industries are saying the same thing as well as government employees.
  16. Apr 1, 2007 #15
    Dr. Transport, do you think a person with an engineering PhD would be better off than a physics PhD? I want to go to graduate school to study solid state device physics, and I could study this through a physics PhD or an EE PhD. What would you say is my best bet? If I did the EE PhD I would surely takes lots of physics, and vice versa, so either way I think I would have the opportunity to study what I enjoy.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2007
  17. Apr 1, 2007 #16
    hmm I wonder if the situation is similar in other countries outside of the US/UK that could potentially be a big place to start a job search.

    I'd imagine alot of chinese schools would hire an american with a phd.
  18. Apr 1, 2007 #17
    I'm following this quite carefully because I am at a crossroads myself as to major in mathematics or in physics. In the physics department at my college, "nearly all" of the full-time graduate students receive full financial support. However, I'm wondering what I could do with it.

    I plan to do research this summer as I love within 30 minutes of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and the NASA Langley Research Center. There's GOT to be work there for a PhD!
  19. Apr 1, 2007 #18


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    I think in industry there is pressure to pay a little a possible (keep costs down), and a PhD is assumed to expect higher salary than an employee with a BS or MS.

    Then there is the argument about being 'over-qualified', which I feel is total nonsense.

    I think the key thing is to be diversified. PhDs may tend to be very specialized - or perhaps over-specialized - or rather that is the perception.

    I look at a PhD as being qualified to do independent research and one who can push the envelope on the state-of-the-art. That is the way to be and the way to present oneself - but be diversified in one's skills and talents.
  20. Apr 1, 2007 #19
    As a chemist with a BS working in industry, i would have to agree with a lot of what the article says. PhDs are a dime a dozen these days, especially since PhDs come from over seas to the US in search of jobs. After one of our postdocs time was up at our company he ended up having to work at an amusement park as a cashier because he couldn't find any jobs. You don't need a PhD to work in industry, you only need 1-2 PhDs to look over 20-30 BS and MS chemists and still have a successful program. Companies would much rather higher a BS or MS to do lab work than a PhD because it is cheaper. The question that always comes up is "Why don't they just higher PhDs and pay them as much as a BS?"

    Because PhDs all think that they know everything. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO RUN A PROGRAM WITH JUST ALL PHDS. A room full of phds will just argue to no end about all the theory/best way possible to synthesize something. A Phd has a much much harder time taking orders from a manager who has the same level of expertise as them. Case in point- We highered a temp PhD to do some synthesis for us and he was given a procedure to make a compound that was already known to work, however the problem was the fact that the procedure only produced a 20% yield of desired product. This PhD thought he could come up with a better way to synthesize the same product with a better yield so he changed the synthetic route without asking first. Needless to say, although the theory said the reactions should have worked, they didn't and he ended up wasting 1000s of dollars in chemicals and 2 weeks of work for garbage. Sorry, but in industry time=money, if you don't produce results you get fired. The only thing that is important in industry is the end result and how fast you can get there, no one cares about the theory behind it. A PhD who manages 10-15 MS and BS almost always gets desired results faster than when they have to manage other phds.

    If you want to work in industry, companies will be wayyyyyyyyy more impressed with 10-20 years experience than they ever will be with a PhD.

    LOL we are just talking about organic chemistry PhDs here too. If you decided to get a PhD is say something like Physical Chemistry magnify the problem by 100. You would die of old age before you ever found a job with that degree.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2007
  21. Apr 1, 2007 #20

    Dr Transport

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    You'll have a chance in the semiconductor industry.
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