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Graduate School in the UK?

  1. Feb 12, 2016 #1
    Hi,

    When I finish my undergraduate physics degree here in the USA, I would like to go on to get a PhD abroad, in particular in the United Kingdom. I have noticed that a lot of Universities in the US have programs that allow a BS in physics to go directly into a PhD program, rather than getting a Master's first. They are usually five year programs where the student will earn a Master's degree along the way to their doctorate.

    I have begun some cursory research into the PhD options at various UK schools, and I have yet to find one setup in similar fashion. All the ones I have seen require a Master's first before acceptance to their PhD program. Is this going to be the norm across the nation?

    My main reason for asking is that a move to the UK is a major deal. The UK master's programs I have seen are only 1 year in length and offer no guarantees of acceptance into a PhD program afterwards. I work full time now and will have to give up my current job when I make the transition to graduate work. Plus I will have to spend a great deal of my savings to finance the move If I'm going to make such a drastic change in my life, I would feel much better about it if I knew I was going to be moving for a four or five year period as opposed to only 1 year.

    Thanks for any help in advance!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2016 #2

    jtbell

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    This is in fact the normal practice in the US. Standalone master's degrees (in physics at least) are usually "terminal" master's that are not intended to lead on to a PhD. They're usually for training in specialized fields, or for high-school teachers to upgrade their credentials, or such like. If you want a PhD, you normally enter a PhD program straight after your bachelor's, and have the option of picking up an MS along the way after finishing a certain amount of coursework.
     
  4. Feb 12, 2016 #3
    Thanks, jtbell.

    So it's the normal practice in the US, but what about in other nations?
     
  5. Feb 12, 2016 #4

    radium

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    In the UK it seems people usually get the master's their fourth year. Undergrad is really only three years so the fourth years is grad coursework. I think this is generally the case, the people I know who went to Cambridge or Oxford did this.
     
  6. Feb 12, 2016 #5

    jtbell

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    In other countries, the MS and PhD are separate. So if you're going to move between the US system and a non-US system, the obvious time to do it is after the bachelor's degree. I don't know what happens if, say, someone gets a master's in the UK and then moves to the US for a PhD. For example, do they still have to take the standard graduate-level coursework at the PhD school? I strongly suspect the answer is, "it depends on the school that you're entering."

    Hopefully someone who has actually dealt with transfers in either direction can chime in here.
     
  7. Feb 12, 2016 #6
    Well, my feeling at this point is that if I do move there to purse a Master's degree, I would try and stay in the country to also get my PhD. Of course, a million possible things could happen that would change that, but as I stated in my first post, the personal finical costs alone of moving there would seem to make that a reasonable course of action.

    Thanks for your input so far, and I do hope someone else with 1st hand experience will chime in too.
     
  8. Feb 13, 2016 #7

    radium

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    Well at my institution, people from Cambridge for do Part III and then come to the U.S. You may or may not need to take more grad coursework. My department for example allows you to petition out of courses deemed to be at a high enough level. However, most students I know from the UK are theorists so most of them will take more courses regardless.
     
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