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Programs Graduate School advice

  1. Aug 26, 2016 #1

    Sorry for the longer post, but I would appreciate any advice offered.

    I have been reading this site ever since starting my undergrad in physics, first time posting. I am posting as I have been having trouble gather info/opinions on a situation I find myself in and am looking for opinions from people with experience in the science/technology world.

    I will be graduation from a small liberal arts school in Minnesota in May with a BA in Physics. I am looking to go to graduate school and study mechanical or aerospace engineering. I have always wanted to be an engineer since my childhood (my grandpa was one and he had a never ending supply of awesome stories, not the only reason but it sparked my interest). I understand it would have been smarter to just get a BS in engineering however my school does not offer that and I choose this school as it is extremely competitive academically and it allowed me to continue to play hockey at a high level.

    Now, I have run into a situation where I need to make a decision and after much searching on this forum and the web I am finding a large mix of opinions, mostly from people that don’t have much if any experience pertaining to this sort of scenario (excluding this forum, posts here have been helpful).

    As stated above I am looking to get a masters in engineering, either Mechanical or Aerospace. My goal has been to work for an aerospace program; I know this can be done with either degree. If I went on to pursue an Aerospace masters would that limit my prospective jobs? Maybe for jobs not within the aerospace industry, by having a degree in Aerospace I would not make it through HR screenings for jobs looking for a mechanical engineer, correct?

    Another option I am considering is to get my degree in Physics and then use that and ‘transfer’ into the University of Minnesota’s Mechanical undergrad. If my transfer research and calculations are correct it would be about a year and a half process to get the ME degree. So, now having an undergrad in both physics and ME I shoot for an Aerospace Masters. Thus, I no longer limit myself on the job front, but would I, in effect, make myself overqualified? I would hope that would not be a huge issue. And not to count out the extra time it would take to go this route. My parents have always stressed not rushing into school and really finding something I want to do. In regards to time/age I will be graduating this year at 24, can thank hockey for that! However, I am not super concerned with age, I don’t think it should matter much but maybe employers do.

    I appreciate you guys reading through this and any help you could provide.

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2016 #2


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    Have you looked at doing a doctorate in applied physics? Generally the degree is offered in the engineering department of a school, but students collaborate heavily with other departments. This would give you a bit more flexibility, but also close some doors due to being overqualified for certain entry level jobs.

    If not, I would reckon with the right GPA and references any masters program in ME or AE would take you with the stipulation you complete certain undergraduate courses. If you found a university that allows second bachelor students, then that is also an option, but would probably require more time/money than just taking the courses needed for the program.

    To answer the other question, no, a second bachelors isn't going to make you over qualified for entry level jobs. Age discrimination is also technically illegal, but you don't have to worry about that for another 20 or so years.

    Masters in engineering are typically pay your way, although there are probably exceptions. For applied physics doctorates you should be able to secure funding more readily, so that may be another thing you want to think about.
  4. Aug 27, 2016 #3


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    I doubt a competitive program like UM's would accept a recent physics grad.

    I think you're making future educational scenarios unnecessarily complicated - your decision making process could be streamlined if you were to more accurately articulate the type of job you ultimately want. Ideally, a student will enroll in a M.S. program to obtain a skill set specific to the employment they will seek. What you you propose is far less efficient and has unwanted implications in terms of time and money.

    In the final analysis what degrees you acquire matter less than developing a vibrant network. Generating contacts early and often is the closest thing there is to a formula for getting a job in any industry.
  5. Aug 27, 2016 #4
    I have not considered applied physics. I have not seen that offered frequently at the schools I've been considering, but will look into it more. From my understanding applied physics is sort of a "bridge" between physics and engineering, would having a degree like this eliminate the opportunities to shoot for jobs with the title of "engineer"?

    There have been a few students from my school attend the U of MN in their engineering PhD/Masters program (not sure what their resumes looked like though). Our school had a 3-2/4-1 program, physics BA and then engineering masters, set up through the U of MN and from the professors I've talked to they have had good luck with students and admittance to the U of MN.

    My second option I came up with as I was doubting my ability to get into the Masters programs, more complicated but perhaps easier (in terms of acceptance?) way.

    As of now I would like to end up in the aerospace industry working for a large company (lockheed martin, Boeing, etc.). I have a few indirect contacts at Boeing and NASA that I could reach out to when time comes for the job search. I know the hardest part of the aerospace industry is getting your foot in the door.

    I appreciate your responses!
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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