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Getting a 2nd BS or rush to get a masters?

  1. Mar 4, 2008 #1

    so i recently decided that i waned to become an applied physicist, and i hoep to end up one day w/ a Ph.D.

    Im actually a senior in college right now and will graduate soon with a liberal arts degree. so i had a change of career faily late.

    Should i go to a state school and get a second bachelors or should i take the minumum courses (E&M, QM, mech, thermo) needed to get into a masters program, and finish that , and THEN apply to a Phd progeam? is there any better advantage of going to get a full BS?

    Also, how do you tell if a graduate school is a good school? Does the fact that im plannign to go to a state school for a masters hurt me in going to a good PhD school?

    summary: heres my proposed path: finish liberal arts degree-->take a few post bacc courses-->Masters program--> Phd program-->unemployment (lol?)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2008 #2
    I would definitely opt for the latter course. Much of what you'll take in getting an entire bachelor's will not be relevant (and will probably be repeats of stuff you already know). Take the required courses, and then do any make-up coursework you need to do during the Master's. I have two friends who did this (one in physics, the other in EE), and it worked out for both of them. Getting a second bachelor's degree is simply too expensive and time-consuming.

    Well, you can look at published rankings for starters (U.S. News & World Report, say). You might also look for researchers that you know about and respect. Or just ask around amongst your physicist friends.

    Not necessarily, supposing the state school doesn't have an actively negative reputation. Especially considering that you're coming in with a liberal arts background, so you can write off any lack of reputation in your Master's under "coming up to speed." As long as you do well, admissions officers should understand. The main disadvantage is that the profs you'll meet at the state school may not have very many connections with the profs at good PhD schools, which would be a big boost for your chances. But, you never know: academia is a big world, and sometimes very respected, well-connected profs end up teaching at state schools.

    That sounds about right, although your goal should be to stretch the PhD program out so long that you can graduate directly into retirement, rather than unemployment as such :]
  4. Mar 4, 2008 #3
    If you can take the extra undergrad courses before officially graduating, and thus keep getting financial aid...then that's bonus, whether or not you actually end up completing a second major.
  5. Mar 4, 2008 #4
    Would i have to retake my GRE scores for the Phd programs for it to remain valid? I woudl have to take the GRE for the state masters programs too.
  6. Mar 4, 2008 #5
    Rush like a bull for a masters.
  7. Mar 5, 2008 #6


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    Generally speaking, in most situations, two bachelor's degrees is no better than one. Get the master's.

    - Warren
  8. Mar 5, 2008 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    One of our incoming students has a BS in archeology. Another has a MS in physics. The point is that there is no magic formula to use when applying for graduate school. Of course, if you want to enter a highly compenetive program, you'll need a compelling argument as to why a traditional applicant should be denied a slot.

    For any level of graduate education, what you are looking for is *training*. That is, you want to come out of the program trained to do something specific. Run certain types of equipment, simulate certain phenomena experimentally or computationally, etc. Otherwise, you'll graduate with less of a clue about what you are qualified to do then when you went in.
  9. Mar 6, 2008 #8
    thanks all for the information. yall been very helpful.

    Im also wondering: if i want to be an applied physicist, is it possible to just stop at the MS lvl and work in industry? Would a PhD improve job prospects much?
  10. Mar 6, 2008 #9
    Name some situations where it would be better...?

    The type of jobs they're appropriate for can be different. A PhD is roughly MS-level classroom work with learning how to be a researcher tacked on. The first year or two of the PhD program are usually spent doing coursework with a TA or RA on the side, with the balance of time dedicated to carrying on a prolonged research program which becomes the basis for your doctoral thesis.
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