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Is my country teaching physics the wrong way?

  1. Jul 25, 2015 #1
    Let me first clarify that I am not going to expose which country I am talking about, not yet!

    So, about four and a half months ago I was a fresh high school graduate and for the last two years I dreamed about becoming a physicist and had planned to get a Bsc/BS degree in Physics. Sadly, In my country there are no SATs to decide in which university you go to, only the percentage you score in your high school and unfortunately I missed a seat in the only university I could go to by not more than 2%.

    But that's not why I am writing this post.

    There are two ways to get PhD in Physics in my country. The first one in Bsc - Msc - Phd and the second one is BE/Btech - Phd, Yes! the engineering graduates can go for PhD directly after clearing an exam which Msc guys have to give anyway! and they have the satisfaction of being an Engineer if something goes wrong!

    And that is not all, it is very competitive to get into a Msc program in a good government university (There is no value of private universities in my country). Adding to that, there is no job that an Msc in physics can get you, so your only option in PhD!

    So engineering is the first choice of every wannabe physicist. isn't it wrong? shouldn't physicist have a bachelor's and master's in physics? what do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 25, 2015 #2
    Not necessarily. Many physics Ph.D holders in the US don't have master's degrees, and those who do usually just get them as an added bonus during their Ph.D program. Without knowing more about the kind of work the engineer to PhD people do, it's hard to make a judgement.
  4. Jul 25, 2015 #3


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  5. Jul 27, 2015 #4


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    Heh, your description of how your country does physics makes me suspect I know which country it is. But since you did not want to say I will not guess.

    My PhD advisor was a physics prof. His undergrad degree was in engineering, the particular branch called "engineering science." The difference between an engineering undergrad and a physics undergrad is primarily emphasis. And there is probably about as much variation within a physics undergrad program or within an engineering undergrad program, as there is between engineering and physics.

    Both will make you do very similar stuff first year. Both will require you to do certain courses the second year, about half your classes, that will be very similar. The rest starts to have much more flexibility for you. If you know generally what sort of graduate work you want to do you can often pick topics that will match up with that while studying in engineering or in physics.

    The primary difference between undergrad physics and engineering is engineers are expected to go into industry. So they have to learn some stuff that physics types do not get pushed to learn. Things like ethics and economics and how to run a company. This is probably 1 course out of about 6 each year. The rest you can pick pretty easily to work well for a physics PhD.

    The only case you might have trouble would be if you wanted to do astrophysics, or some other subject that simply does not exist in an engineering sense. Even there you might be allowed to go across to the physics department and take the appropriate courses for credit in an engineering degree.
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