Is a Master's in Physics Enough for a Tenure Track Position?

In summary,The author is 38 years old, has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from SJSU, an M.S. in Adavanced Technology (from his home country) and will be done with his PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (from his home country) in one month. He plans to study an M.S. in Physics at SJSU this Fall. Getting a tenure track position at a community college is very competitive, and a PhD in physics might not be necessary.
  • #1
Fernando Rios
96
10
I am 38 years old, I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from SJSU, I have an M.S. in Adavanced Technology (from my home country) I will be done with my PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (from my home country) in one month and I will start aN M.S. in Physics at SJSU this Fall.

Even though I am almost done with a PhD in a technical field, I decided to study an M.S. in Physics since I want to teach physics at a community college in the US and I want to learn more about physics. I heard getting tenure track position at a community college is very competitive. I wonder whether a Master's in Physics is enough to get a tenure track position at a junior college in the US.

Is a PhD in physics better to get this position? Would you advice me to try a PhD in physics even I am 38 years old now? Is there any financial aid for international students who want to pursue a PhD in the US?
 
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  • #2
Fernando Rios said:
I heard getting tenure track position at a community college is very competitive.
Correct. At the nearest community college, pretty much the only tenure-track faculty are the department heads. who hire term faculty on a per course basis.

Fernando Rios said:
I wonder whether a Master's in Physics is enough to get a tenure track position at a junior college in the US.
While there might be an exception here and there, this is unlikely.

Fernando Rios said:
Is there any financial aid for international students who want to pursue a PhD in the US?
Sure, but this is competitive too. And your history cries out "perpetual student", which will make it harder. Possibly much harder.
 
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  • #3
Fernando Rios said:
Is there any financial aid for international students who want to pursue a PhD in the US?
Any reputable STEM PhD program will provide funding. How much and whether it's enough is a different question. Any offer of admission without corresponding funding should be considered a soft rejection as it is never a good idea to self-fund your PhD.
 
  • #4
Vanadium 50 said:
Correct. At the nearest community college, pretty much the only tenure-track faculty are the department heads. who hire term faculty on a per course basis.While there might be an exception here and there, this is unlikely.Sure, but this is competitive too. And your history cries out "perpetual student", which will make it harder. Possibly much harder.
In case I apply and get into the PhD, would you suggest me to go for it?
 
  • #5
That's up to you but:
Fernando Rios said:
I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
4 years +
Fernando Rios said:
I have an M.S. in Adavanced Technology
2 years +
Fernando Rios said:
I will be done with my PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology...in one month
4 years = 10 years +
Fernando Rios said:
In case I get into the PhD
6 years = 16 years
Fernando Rios said:
I am 38 years old,
So by the time you graduate you will be around 45 before finally reaching a point where you can start saving for retirement and the starting salary will not be that high. Are you independently wealthy OP?
 
  • #6
gwnorth said:
That's up to you but:

4 years +

2 years +

4 years = 10 years +

6 years = 16 years

So by the time you graduate you will be around 45 before finally reaching a point where you can start saving for retirement and the starting salary will not be that high. Are you independently wealthy OP?
My family has a company in my home contry, but the purpose of getting the PhD besides having it would be to get tenure track at a community college; otherwise, I would work for my family's company.
 
  • #7
Fernando Rios said:
Is a PhD in physics better to get this position?
Sure. If you want to teach pure physics. But why not save yourself some time and look for a position teaching nanotechnology?

Would you advice me to try a PhD in physics even I am 38 years old now?
As pointed out above, you're looking at a substantial time commitment. In a best case scenario you won't each your PhD until your mid-forties and there's a lot of opportunity cost that comes with that. For most people, once they get into their mid-thirties, they get to a stage of life that involves settling into long term relationships/marriage, having children, purchasing a home, etc. Quite frequently there is someone else who's life you're part of who needs to be deeply involved in these kinds of decisions. Your age itself shouldn't stop you from being competitive for positions though. Ageism does exist though. To what degree you'll encounter it, I'm not sure.

Is there any financial aid for international students who want to pursue a PhD in the US?
My experience is with the Canadian system. Here international PhD students are supported through a combination of stipends, scholarships, teaching and research assistanceships. Their tuition is often higher that than for domestic students though.
 
  • #8
Let me suggest the following. Look at the job qualifications/responsibilities that community colleges are looking for. Here is a link to some 60 current openings.

https://www.google.com/search?q=num...cid=nwbqUGyyQzwAAAAAAAAAAA==&fpstate=tldetailSince physics education is a major consideration why not try to take an MS in physics education in the US? This area of physics is not all that popular with only a few dozen programs. Here is a link to some of those programs. It takes a few seconds to load.

https://www.collegefactual.com/majo...on/rankings/top-ranked/#discover_best_schools

It would take less time and seemingly give you an advantage over traditional Ph.D. grads and postdocs.
 
  • #9
gleem said:
Let me suggest the following. Look at the job qualifications/responsibilities that community colleges are looking for. Here is a link to some 60 current openings.

https://www.google.com/search?q=number+of+community+college+physics+positions+in+us&oq=number+of+community+college+physics+positions+in+us&aqs=chrome..69i57j33i160l2j33i299.783337724j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&ibp=htl;jobs&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjJ-YrL-Nv_AhV9kIQIHQCZAOwQudcGKAF6BAgNECs&sxsrf=APwXEddkbbf5FQmWdV6-EDdOH1R7auYccw:1687610919672#htivrt=jobs&htidocid=nwbqUGyyQzwAAAAAAAAAAA==&fpstate=tldetailSince physics education is a major consideration why not try to take an MS in physics education in the US? This area of physics is not all that popular with only a few dozen programs. Here is a link to some of those programs. It takes a few seconds to load.

https://www.collegefactual.com/majo...on/rankings/top-ranked/#discover_best_schools

It would take less time and seemingly give you an advantage over traditional Ph.D. grads and postdocs.
Thank you for your suggestion, but I will start and M.S. in Physics at SJSU this August.
 
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