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Fast Track Masters

  1. Jun 4, 2007 #1
    Hi guys, i've just completed my first year at Florida Tech with a 3.78 GPA (and completed Physics 1 and 2, and Chem 1 and 2, as well as up to Calc 3 - all with A's except Chem 1 which was a B. I also took a technical writing course and got an A). I also switched from an Astrophysics major to just Physics because I figured it would be more versatile and I would have more freedom in my courses. I also added a computational math minor which requires me to take 3 extra courses (I have chosen Parallel Processing, Numerical Analysis, and Linear Algebra).

    I'm currently working for an associate professor on Quarknet (cosmic ray detection) and also on a computing cluster for GEANT simulations and the open science grid. I have to be honest, the work is quite boring. Probably because I have very little to do - when I do have work, it involves repairing and calibrating the detectors (with an oscilloscope) which I LOVE doing. I have noticed that i'm a very fast learner when it comes to technical apparatus.

    That's my current situation, but my question is this. I know that a good Masters program will open a lot more doors, and I was recently invited to participate in a new program at the school (Fast Track to Masters) which tells me that I can get my masters degree in Physics within 1 year of completing my Bachelors by taking 2 graduate courses in my senior year. The requirements of the program are quite high (~3.4 GPA for invite, 3.0 by the end of Senior year). I asked the school if the degree would be regarded as any different from a regular masters degree, and the answer was an unconvincing "no". From your point of view, would doing a masters degree in shorter time be an advantage, a disadvantage, or arbitrary?

    Also, I am not entirely sure what field of physics I want to get into. I got into physics because I figured it would give me a background as a "great thinker" as well as a broad technical knowledge. But it seems that I should start thinking about what general line of study I should follow. How feasable are my interests? Also, what kind of courses or projects should I pursue to get into them?
    1. Plasma research - I'm fascinated by plasma for use as an energy source (fusion) or other things like weapons, windows, shielding, propulsion, etc. I think electric/magnetic fields are my favorite part of physics so far.
    2. Solid State - I work in the HEP lab which seems to be related to Solid State (or condensed matter), I am interested in metamaterials - but don't know that much about the field.
    3. Nuclear physics - I like the concept of radioactive decay and atomic/subatomic behaviour.
    None of these fields are that big at my school, which worries me. But I figure I could do internships in these fields if I wanted to - or go on to a PhD after Masters.

    This got a bit longer than i'd intended, but I have a lot of questions - and I'd rather not make any serious mistakes with my education.

    PS: I'm getting more and more interested in entering Industry or Government work over Academic.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2007 #2
    I honestly don't see how the time spent on a degree makes any difference whatsoever. (Well, perhaps if you spent 8 years as an undergraduate... :smile:)

    It seems to me that the disadvantage of doing things quickly is not being able to explore alternatives, so you might want to take your time. But as far as employers/grad schools are concerned, I can't imagine that it will make any difference one way or the other.
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