I want to get a PhD no matter the cost, so I have been trying lately to figure out which exact field I should "major" in in graduate school. I will be graduating with a mathematics B.S., but my main interest is in nuclear engineering (I am taking pre-req NE classes and will be doing a summer REU in NE, don't panic). I know I want to get at least my master's in nuclear engineering, and I want to do my research in nuclear fusion/plasma physics, but I am concerned about the cost-benefit analysis of doing my PhD IN nuclear engineering. I have heard that the private sector cares very little about a PhD in engineering vs. a masters in engineering. That is why I am considering doing the masters in NE and then finishing with a PhD in Applied Math. Is this a good plan? Will it help me stave off unemployment and low wages? Eventually I want to have a research and design oriented job, but I want to be building something that will improve our standard of living in the real world and not sitting in an ivory tower writing academic papers to save my career. Another thing that is influencing me to doing this, and this may be a bit naive, but in my opinion one of the greatest engineers to have ever lived, Stanislaw Ulam, was actually a mathematician. When they were working on Project Orion, the main team was composed of a mathematician and a couple of physicists, not engineers, and it would have worked if it hadn't been outlawed. I guess I have been kind of biased towards physics/math against engineering because I have been lightly reading on different famous engineers throughout history, like Von Braun, Ulam, Feynman, Compton, etc...but none of them were actually engineers, rather almost exclusively physicists and mathematicians. Am I being delusional or is there something to this? However, with the state of the economy as it is, it doesn't seem like there is much work for physicists and mathematicians, but engineers don't seem to be having too much trouble.