I wish to pursue PhD in Medical Physics. But Masters first?

In summary, the individual is planning to get a bachelor's degree in Radiation Health Physics and ultimately pursue a PhD in medical physics. They recognize that their GPA and experiences may make it difficult to be admitted immediately after undergraduate graduation. They are wondering if it is common for individuals pursuing a PhD in medical physics to first obtain an M.S. degree. They are also planning to apply to several schools for an M.S. degree and are considering applying to a few PhD programs as well. The individual has a 3.24 GPA and has received international scholarships, but has limited research or internship experience. They have reached out to schools to gather more information and have received varying responses regarding the importance of obtaining an M.S. before a PhD. The individual
  • #1
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Hello,

I will be getting a bachelor's degree in Radiation Health Physics in near future, and my ultimate goal is to study PhD in medical physics. However, I think it would be unlikely that I will get admitted right after undergraduate graduation, due to my mediocre GPA and limited experiences. Is it common for a MP PhD to have studied MS prior to applying for the doctorate degree?

Also, I am planning to apply for almost dozen schools at once for MS. Do you think I should at least apply for a few PhD programs as well?

For your information, I have 3.24 GPA (horrible first two years during pre-RHP, dramatically better last two years during pro-RHP) and my GRE scores are 152V 156Q 4.5A. I am an international student receiving international scholarships. I have several shadowing experiences in biomedical laboratories but no actual research or internship.Thanks a lot!
 
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  • #2
pdm0118 said:
Hello,

I will be getting a bachelor's degree in Radiation Health Physics in near future, and my ultimate goal is to study PhD in medical physics. However, I think it would be unlikely that I will get admitted right after undergraduate graduation, due to my mediocre GPA and limited experiences. Is it common for a MP PhD to have studied MS prior to applying for the doctorate degree?

Also, I am planning to apply for almost dozen schools at once for MS. Do you think I should at least apply for a few PhD programs as well?

For your information, I have 3.24 GPA (horrible first two years during pre-RHP, dramatically better last two years during pro-RHP) and my GRE scores are 152V 156Q 4.5A. I am an international student receiving international scholarships. I have several shadowing experiences in biomedical laboratories but no actual research or internship.


Thanks a lot!
I would encourage you to look at PhD programs. In most sciences at most places (not sure about Medical Physics) you will often be granted the MS along the way to PhD. If you enter a PhD program, and decide after two years that a career in research is not what you want, you can leave with a MS. In most PhD science programs, most students have their tuition paid and are given a stipend. I have seen some terminal MS programs where the student pays for both. If you end up going to an institution with a terminal MS Program and decide to switch institutions to get a PhD, the PhD institution may not accept your "time-served" at the other institution -- it may take longer than if you had just gone to the PhD program from the outset.
 
  • #3
Different schools are going to have different ideas about whether you should get the MS first. Sometimes quite strongly different ideas. You will see many possible attitudes from MS is strongly encouraged all the way to MS is considered a "consolation prize" for those who don't manage to finish the PhD. The differences are somewhat associated with different countries. For example, in the US it is more frequent to get a PhD without an MS, but certainly not universal.

I would suggest you contact the schools directly and find their opinions. Google is your friend finding the web sites of the schools. You want to find the graduate program advisor or graduate office or graduate chair or some such position, and find out what information they have on their web site. Also, if you can figure out which prof you might like to work with, contact that prof if you can. Send an email saying you are considering applying for graduate work at the school and ask what requirements they have, do they prefer you to get an MS then a PhD or just the PhD, etc.

While you are asking those questions, ask if there is anything else you need to know such as Visa requirements, scholarships you could be considered for if you applied, teaching opportunities during your degree work, any other special requirements, etc.

Many schools will have a package of information that they will automatically send you when you make such enquiry.
 
  • #4
In medical physics it's quite common to do an MSc first and then a PhD. That's definitely the case in Canada where the general rule is to follow a progression from an MSc to a PhD. In the US, often what I've seen is that students try to find a residency or employment after the MSc and then go back to get the PhD if that doesn't work out. (Although it's not uncommon for American students to just opt for the PhD right out of undergrad as well.)

I'm not generally a fan of the shotgun approach to applying for graduate studies. If you're applying to a dozen schools, it's difficult to make an concentrated effort to assess each one individually to see if it will be the right fit for you and you could end up with an acceptance at a place you really had no desire to attend.
 
  • #5
Quantum Defect said:
I would encourage you to look at PhD programs. In most sciences at most places (not sure about Medical Physics) you will often be granted the MS along the way to PhD. If you enter a PhD program, and decide after two years that a career in research is not what you want, you can leave with a MS. In most PhD science programs, most students have their tuition paid and are given a stipend. I have seen some terminal MS programs where the student pays for both. If you end up going to an institution with a terminal MS Program and decide to switch institutions to get a PhD, the PhD institution may not accept your "time-served" at the other institution -- it may take longer than if you had just gone to the PhD program from the outset.

I have contacted with the schools I'm interested in, and it seems that having an M.S. prior to pursuing PhD is common in this field. I'm probably not the most competent applicant, so I think I should go for the M.S. first. Thanks for the comment!
 
  • #6
DEvens said:
Different schools are going to have different ideas about whether you should get the MS first. Sometimes quite strongly different ideas. You will see many possible attitudes from MS is strongly encouraged all the way to MS is considered a "consolation prize" for those who don't manage to finish the PhD. The differences are somewhat associated with different countries. For example, in the US it is more frequent to get a PhD without an MS, but certainly not universal.

I would suggest you contact the schools directly and find their opinions. Google is your friend finding the web sites of the schools. You want to find the graduate program advisor or graduate office or graduate chair or some such position, and find out what information they have on their web site. Also, if you can figure out which prof you might like to work with, contact that prof if you can. Send an email saying you are considering applying for graduate work at the school and ask what requirements they have, do they prefer you to get an MS then a PhD or just the PhD, etc.

While you are asking those questions, ask if there is anything else you need to know such as Visa requirements, scholarships you could be considered for if you applied, teaching opportunities during your degree work, any other special requirements, etc.

Many schools will have a package of information that they will automatically send you when you make such enquiry.

Thank you, I did contact the schools I'm interested in and received some detailed information about their policies. It seems that most schools encourage students to have finished the M.S. first. I think I will be going for a master's degree first. Thank you!
 
  • #7
Choppy said:
In medical physics it's quite common to do an MSc first and then a PhD. That's definitely the case in Canada where the general rule is to follow a progression from an MSc to a PhD. In the US, often what I've seen is that students try to find a residency or employment after the MSc and then go back to get the PhD if that doesn't work out. (Although it's not uncommon for American students to just opt for the PhD right out of undergrad as well.)

I'm not generally a fan of the shotgun approach to applying for graduate studies. If you're applying to a dozen schools, it's difficult to make an concentrated effort to assess each one individually to see if it will be the right fit for you and you could end up with an acceptance at a place you really had no desire to attend.

You are right. It seems that medical physics schools in the U.S. expect most students to earn a M.S. and then PhD in medical physics.
I think I will be applying to about 6~7 schools, I'm more interested in 3 of them but since I'm not the most competent applicant for medical physics, I thought applying to more schools can give me more chances or options. I hope that works out for me.. Thank you for the comment!
 

1. What is the difference between a PhD and Masters in Medical Physics?

A PhD in Medical Physics is a research-based degree that typically takes 4-6 years to complete. It focuses on developing advanced knowledge and skills in a specific area of medical physics and culminates in a dissertation project. A Masters in Medical Physics is a shorter program, typically taking 2-3 years, and focuses more on coursework and practical training. It can also serve as a stepping stone towards a PhD program.

2. What are the career options for someone with a PhD in Medical Physics?

Graduates with a PhD in Medical Physics can pursue careers in academia, research institutions, healthcare facilities, and government agencies. They can work as medical physicists, researchers, professors, or consultants, among other roles. The demand for highly trained medical physicists is growing, particularly in areas such as cancer treatment, imaging, and radiation therapy.

3. What is the application process for a PhD program in Medical Physics?

The application process for a PhD program in Medical Physics may vary slightly between universities, but generally, it involves submitting transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume or CV. Some programs may also require GRE scores and/or an interview. It is important to carefully review the specific requirements of each program you are interested in and to start the application process early.

4. What qualifications do I need to have to be accepted into a PhD program in Medical Physics?

Most PhD programs in Medical Physics require applicants to have a Bachelor's or Master's degree in physics, engineering, or a related field. A strong background in math and science is also necessary. Some programs may have additional requirements, such as specific coursework or research experience. It is important to research the specific qualifications of each program before applying.

5. Can I work while pursuing a PhD in Medical Physics?

The workload of a PhD program in Medical Physics is typically heavy and may involve coursework, research, and teaching responsibilities. It may be challenging to balance a job and a PhD program, but some students may choose to work part-time or take on research or teaching assistant positions within the university. It is important to discuss any potential work commitments with your advisor and to carefully manage your time to ensure success in both your job and your PhD program.

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