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Is an engineering PhD generally easier to get than maths / physics?

  • Thread starter binbagsss
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

As a maths & Physics graduate.

This seems to be the pattern I tend to be spotting but maybe it's just a coincident?

Many thanks
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Have you personally obtained both a math/physics PhD and and engineering PhD? If not, then what are you using to measure difficulty, what are you "spotting" that leads you to conclude this?

Also, why does it matter? What purpose will the answer serve you?
 
  • #3
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Have you personally obtained both a math/physics PhD and and engineering PhD? If not, then what are you using to measure difficulty, what are you "spotting" that leads you to conclude this?

Also, why does it matter? What purpose will the answer serve you?
I meant easier to get an offer, not to ' obtain ' as in complete.....
 
  • #4
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I meant easier to get an offer, not to ' obtain ' as in complete.....
And an offer just in one discipline. And yes, the answer matters alot to me.
 
  • #5
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I'm a maths and physics graduate.

I enjoy quantum theory and general relativity most. Then quantum mechanics and Pde / analysis in many variables / dynamical systems - these kind of core/ central math fields.

But would a PhD in mechanical engineering - fluid dynamics in particular - offer better job prospects after - both in academia and industry?

My dream.phd would be gravitational theory modelling, or an interesting quantum theory application. But my grades are average, I have been offered a PhD in FD, engineering, but would a PhD in the latter also be harder to get an offer for or not really?

Many thanks
 
  • #6
Choppy
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But my grades are average, I have been offered a PhD in FD, engineering, but would a PhD in the latter also be harder to get an offer for or not really?
If you have already been offered a PhD in fluid dynamics, what does it matter whether it would be harder to get an offer?

Generally speaking, I think that the between-program variability is going to be more widely dispersed than the between subject variability. Counting on an engineering program accepting you as a backup if you don't get into a physics program is probably not a wise strategy.

As for graduating job prospects... a lot depends on the specifics of the skills you pick up during your degree. There aren't a lot of companies willing to pay you to model gravitational theories directly. But if you can use those skills to perform financial modelling work, you might have a few more prospects.
 
  • #7
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Generally speaking, I think that the between-program variability is going to be more widely dispersed than the between subject variability.
I don't nderstand what you mean by thusi?
 
  • #8
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I meant easier to get an offer, not to ' obtain ' as in complete.....
Ah, I misunderstood. I guess that should be pretty straightforward to estimate just by comparing the number of applicants to the number of positions, but I don't know that number.

I guess the purpose for you is to target where you apply. If so, then there will be substantial variation between institutions. Probably the difference in "difficulty" between institutions will be greater than the difference between physics/math and engineering. If you are finding physics/math more difficult to get into then it may be that you are targeting excessively competitive physics/math programs.
 
  • #9
symbolipoint
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I meant easier to get an offer, not to ' obtain ' as in complete.....
So that is the distinction. Entering is one thing; doing well and coming through the exit successfully is another thing.
 
  • #10
Dr Transport
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An engineering PhD in Fluid Dynamics will get you many more prospects for employment, both academic and industrial over a PhD in Relativity...
 
  • #11
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Ah, I misunderstood. I guess that should be pretty straightforward to estimate just by comparing the number of applicants to the number of positions, but I don't know that number.

I guess the purpose for you is to target where you apply. If so, then there will be substantial variation between institutions. Probably the difference in "difficulty" between institutions will be greater than the difference between physics/math and engineering. If you are finding physics/math more difficult to get into then it may be that you are targeting excessively competitive physics/math programs.
No I'm.not targeting more difficult for maths / physics
 
  • #12
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So that is the distinction. Entering is one thing; doing well and coming through the exit successfully is another thing.
What? Wasn't the question I was addressing.

Are quantum theory / mechanics / gravitaton theory type projects more competitive than engineering? do they tend to get more people applying or,?
 
  • #13
FactChecker
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Data on this and other aspects of getting a PhD can be found in the Survey of Earned Doctorates.
A table of the years required to obtain a degree are in Table 31 here
It looks to me as though PhDs in all three fields are roughly equivalent in difficulty in terms of years required.

Of course, your natural talents can make a lot of difference in how difficult particular subjects are. My experience in mathematics was that I had a particular knack for some math subjects but would have found other math subjects completely impossible.
 
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  • #14
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Data on this and other aspects of getting a PhD can be found in the Survey of Earned Doctorates.
A table of the years required to obtain a degree are in Table 31 here
It looks to me as though PhDs in all three fields are roughly equivalent in difficulty in terms of years required.

Of course, your natural talents can make a lot of difference in how difficult particular subjects are. My experience in mathematics was that I had a particular knack for some math subjects but would have found other math subjects completely impossible.
Not in teeerms of difficulty I am after, but difficulty of landing the PhD in the first place..
 
  • #15
TeethWhitener
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There seem to be some language difficulties in this thread. OP's answers can be interpreted in a number of ways. Do you mean:
1) Are engineering PhD programs easier to be accepted into than math/physics programs?
2) Are engineering PhD programs easier to complete than math/physics programs?
3) Is it easier to find a job with an engineering degree than with a math/physics degree?
 
  • #16
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There seem to be some language difficulties in this thread. OP's answers can be interpreted in a number of ways. Do you mean:
1) Are engineering PhD programs easier to be accepted into than math/physics programs?
2) Are engineering PhD programs easier to complete than math/physics programs?
3) Is it easier to find a job with an engineering degree than with a math/physics degree?
number 1 was my primmary question (as ive specified in other replies) and number 3 was a seecondary question.
 
  • #17
ZapperZ
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This thread severely needs to be retitled!

Zz.
 
  • #18
symbolipoint
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What? Wasn't the question I was addressing.

Are quantum theory / mechanics / gravitaton theory type projects more competitive than engineering? do they tend to get more people applying or,?
The O.P. earlier comment from one of the posts:
I meant easier to get an offer, not to ' obtain ' as in complete.....
 
  • #19
symbolipoint
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Whole post #1 as seen right now:
As a maths & Physics graduate.

This seems to be the pattern I tend to be spotting but maybe it's just a coincident?

Many thanks
Post #1 reads very strangely. Something has lead to a discussion not clearly coming from this post #1. Intention does not seem clear.
 
  • #20
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Regarding the possibility of getting into a Ph.D. program, one should remember that many Ph.D. students are working on their degree while they are employed. There are many more jobs in engineering.
 
  • #21
symbolipoint
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many Ph.D. students are working on their degree while they are employed.
How do they manage that, if being PhD student is a full-time situation by itself?
 
  • #22
StatGuy2000
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How do they manage that, if being PhD student is a full-time situation by itself?
This obviously varies from different fields, but many PhD students in areas like operations research or statistics in the US and Canada (from what I've been told) work in internships during the summer months while completing their PhD studies. And many of the internships are often connected to areas of research they are engaged in.

I presume the same is true for PhD students in many engineering programs.
 
  • #23
WWGD
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They may also be in part-time programs. Some schools have them.
 
  • #24
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How do they manage that, if being PhD student is a full-time situation by itself?
After the classes have been completed, there are some years of research on their thesis. They often work on a thesis subject that is somewhat related to their job. Their company can help them sometimes and they put in very long hours.
 

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