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Other How to enroll in physics lab while getting MS CS?

  • Thread starter Oleksander
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Hi everyone!

I'm 30 y.o. Software Engineer from Ukraine. I have BS degree in Economics. For the lack of theoretical knowledge I decided to get a technical degree. My primary interests are Math and Computer Science. But I'd like to try more hands-on fields of natural sciences and engineering. Not having tried, I can't tell whether I like or dislike them.

For that I plan to obtain a BS degree in Ukraine and apply for MS/PhD degree in Europe/USA. I see basically two alternatives for myself:
- BS CS -> MS CS (desirable)
- BS, MS Physics -> PhD Physics (in doubt)
I know, there are options here, like going from CS to Physics and vice versa. But that's not what I want to ask about.

Let's imagine I'm enrolled to graduate school. I'm doing some research and have good results and recommendations. I have some spare time to put into doing lab research in other fields of science and/or engineering. Just for the sake of interest, maybe considering switching to some other area.

The question is following. See two options above for university major? From which it would be easier to try other fields while obtaining graduate degree? Not in terms of theoretical knowledge (let's imagine it's enough in both cases), but in terms of convincing your advisor (you are doing research with), and other professors (which lab you want to get involved to)?

I understand, that undergaduate school is more suited for self orientation. But what if graduate school was the ideal place for me to experiment in various fields. To decide, whether to switch to a completely different area, or to get into some interdisciplinary research.
 

Vanadium 50

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I have some spare time to put into doing lab research in other fields of science and/or engineering.
That's not how it usually works. If you have free time, this is usually a bug, not a feature.
 

Choppy

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I'm not sure I understand the question. Ideally by the time you enter graduate school, you've explored your options enough that you've decided on one specific path. Undergraduate years are generally much better for exploring. Why not find a school that offers either a combined major, dual major or at least one with enough electives that you can seriously explore the other one? As an undergrad, you should be able to get involved with different research projects too. Ideally, you want to put yourself into a position such that by the time you are ready to pick and MSc or PhD program, you're reasonably confident that's the educational path that you want.
 
Why not find a school that offers either a combined major, dual major or at least one with enough electives that you can seriously explore the other one?
I could go for undergraduate degree to Europe or USA. But I'd have to spend two years to study for example german language to study in Germany or earn money for bachelors degree in USA.

Why not spend that time earning BS degree in Ukraine? But majoring in Math or CS doesn't give you any opportunity here to practice engineering or science. And we do not have combined degress. And it's not about electives, theoretical knowledge won't give me any idea about practical lab work (what I'm aiming to).

So, the question is rather, how can I get into various physics/electronics labs, once I'm enrolled to american/european university as a MS CS?
 

ZapperZ

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I could go for undergraduate degree to Europe or USA. But I'd have to spend two years to study for example german language to study in Germany or earn money for bachelors degree in USA.

Why not spend that time earning BS degree in Ukraine? But majoring in Math or CS doesn't give you any opportunity here to practice engineering or science. And we do not have combined degress. And it's not about electives, theoretical knowledge won't give me any idea about practical lab work (what I'm aiming to).

So, the question is rather, how can I get into various physics/electronics labs, once I'm enrolled to american/european university as a MS CS?
The question is, why would I, a physics faculty member, take YOU to work in my lab?

The common situations in many research labs are that (i) I have a limited amount of funds and (ii) I have way too many students who want to work for me.

So if I have students who already have their B.Sc. in physics, and eager to work in my lab, why should I drop one of them in favor of you? The work often involves analysis of results and it often requires a background in physics. Would you be able to handle it, or do I have to spend time hand-holding you and teach you the physics before you can do that? I don't have to put that much effort with my physics graduate students.

You need to put things in perspective here. You are not the only fish in the pond, and frankly, there can easily be bigger fish in the pond that I would prefer. Just because you wish to do something doesn't mean that you are the only, or best, candidate to be selected.

Zz.
 
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CrysPhys

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I could go for undergraduate degree to Europe or USA. But I'd have to spend two years to study for example german language to study in Germany or earn money for bachelors degree in USA.

Why not spend that time earning BS degree in Ukraine? But majoring in Math or CS doesn't give you any opportunity here to practice engineering or science. And we do not have combined degress. And it's not about electives, theoretical knowledge won't give me any idea about practical lab work (what I'm aiming to).

So, the question is rather, how can I get into various physics/electronics labs, once I'm enrolled to american/european university as a MS CS?
<<Emphasis added>> As a grad student at US universities, this opportunity will arise only as a matter of luck, not as a matter of routine. That is, (1) you have something of value (e.g., based on your software engineering experience) to offer a physics or engineering professor; and, in return, he provides you an opportunity to work in his lab, learn new skills, and try out new activities; or (2) you become friends with a professor, and he provides an opportunity for you in his lab as a personal favor. Personally, I wouldn't bank my future on lucking out.

As an undergrad in many (not all, you need to check in advance) US universities, however, this opportunity can arise as a matter of routine. As mentioned in another post, there are opportunities for interdisciplinary programs or dual majors. There are also opportunities for structured undergrad labs, individual undergrad research projects (sometimes available for course credit), and formal undergrad thesis.

I have no experience with European universities.
 
Thanks for your comments, they are really helpful to sort things out.

What if among engineering topics, I'm interested in EE and particularly in CE? I asked about physics, because EE department in university, where I plan to get BS degree, is not that good. So I saw physics as an alternative to CS degree. Sorry for misleading you.

As CE has some intersections with CS, it would be great to combine both approaches. For grad research, provide value with mathematics/programming knowledge. Second, get into undegrad labs (as a grad student) for individual projects. Ideally, join team project, where math knowledge and software skills could be utilized.

As a prerequisite, I'll need necessary level of EE/physics theory. I thought about summer engineering schools (while on MS). Where I could join interdisciplinary projects as a computer scientist.
 

CrysPhys

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Thanks for your comments, they are really helpful to sort things out.

What if among engineering topics, I'm interested in EE and particularly in CE? I asked about physics, because EE department in university, where I plan to get BS degree, is not that good. So I saw physics as an alternative to CS degree. Sorry for misleading you.

As CE has some intersections with CS, it would be great to combine both approaches. For grad research, provide value with mathematics/programming knowledge. Second, get into undegrad labs (as a grad student) for individual projects. Ideally, join team project, where math knowledge and software skills could be utilized.

As a prerequisite, I'll need necessary level of EE/physics theory. I thought about summer engineering schools (while on MS). Where I could join interdisciplinary projects as a computer scientist.
You're still depending on lining up a series of special arrangements. Some considerations:

(1) Grad classes typically require a lot more work than undergrad classes. You might not have as much free time to explore as you think.

(2) Much will also depend on whether your MS program requires a thesis or not.

(3) Before going your intended route, you should at least identify candidate universities that offer the opportunities (including scheduling) for the special arrangements that you are seeking. If the number is small, then you need to consider the likelihood that you will be admitted to one of them. If you don't do your due diligence now, then you could end up being extremely frustrated after spending 2+ yrs getting a BS in the Ukraine.
 

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