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Looking to get an M.S in physics before Ph.D

  1. Jul 28, 2013 #1
    Hey all, I am interested in doing a program at my university that would allow me to take ~11-13 graduate courses (including three for research thesis) and get me an M.S in the standard four years one would get a B.S. I want to be the best applicant for a PhD program and I feel that if I left after three years I would not have had enough time for research and summer programs to get a really solid application. I also have great friends and a long time girlfriend, and Im not in too much of a hurry to grow up! However, I have heard that an M.S can be a black mark at worst and at best a waste of time because the PhD school will retrain you. Does anyone here have any knowledge of this area? Any advice about how an applicant with a solid M.S is viewed? I definitely would not be using the M.S as a springboard, my grades so far have been perfect. It would be more to become a stellar applicant. Thanks for any input, I appreciate it and there is really not much of this topic online.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2013 #2
    where do you live? US?
  4. Jul 29, 2013 #3
    Yes the U.S and I plan to stay for my PhD here.
  5. Jul 29, 2013 #4
    If you have good grades, you don't need to do a Msc:
    Most schools will only admit at the PhD level,
    and since most people have only undergraduate degrees, school will value your Undergraduate performances much more than your Msc Degree.
  6. Jul 29, 2013 #5
    I don't think anyone will value his undergraduate performance more than his masters. If anything it is an asset (as it should be). Just because it isn't the norm in the united states does not mean it does not have it's benefits. It also prepares students really well for the pHd and the research setting in general- letting them get their feet wet before they jump right in. I mean, it seems that every other country is doing it : )

    I don't think pHd studies are structured very differently than elsewhere.
  7. Jul 29, 2013 #6


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    They are different in Europe, where you (usually) need a MS to start a PhD. MS+PhD combined it similar to the US-PhD.
  8. Jul 29, 2013 #7
    It's one reason a Msc is not valued as much in the US as it is outside (for physics).
    Also: some schools limit the number of transferable credits, whereas others will take one year off their 5 yr PhD degree, and thus turn it into a 4yrs PhD program (I know Boston University does it, but i'm not too sure . . . )

    Gonna repeat it but it applies for US students: the Master degree is not awarded defacto by many US universities you can apply for it once you're in the PhD program if you want out, or if you feel like having that qualification.
    there are stand alone US Msc Programs but they are, most of the time, Applied Physics and not physics: meaning they are "professional" and might lack the Research component that, say, a Msc in the UK has.

    edit: Keep in mind, Msc degree are not funded most of the time, and Graduate credits cost more than undergraduate ones. so it's something one has to consider.
  9. Jul 29, 2013 #8
    Yeah well a masters clearly isn't valued as much as a pHD... that holds everywhere. as far as the structure I am pretty sure the US phd's might have more coursework... but a masters is not necessary for a pHd over here in Canada either... the PhD is also stand alone, that being said many students complete a full masters first for the experience. Having a masters definitely doesn't hurt, it is just extra experience. The UK's masters programs can be very different... often just course based too. Here there is usually two options: Course based Masters of Thesis based. Course based is intended for those who do not wish to pursue further studies (these are the masters that seem to fit the mold of what is being talked about here...) Generally people who plan on pursuing a pHd do not take these programs and they usually don't give any huge competitive advantage. A thesis based masters is intended to feed into a pHd. It is a huge advantage here to take a thesis based masters, and my understanding is that international students from canada heading to US schools often complete a masters first (although, this isn't necessary- it can give you a head start. Masters projects often lead to pHd projects).

    EDIT: I should add that almost no graduate school would look at research experience to be bad... on the contrary it is actually a huge benefit, something many schools take into large consideration upon admission, as they should. A thesis based masters is exactly that... Two years of hard experience as well as some advanced courses
  10. Jul 29, 2013 #9
    Okay to answer some questions. I came in with a lot of credit from ap testing, hence my flexibility. The program allows you to combine undergrad and grad coursework, and to earn a bs/ms if you wish. I thought itd be a good idea to give myself an extra summer and school year to do research and go for the m.s while taking more advanced courses. I also thought a masters with thesis would be great for research experience. The school (university of Connecticut) has a terminal masters you can apply for separately from the PhD, however the program I am doing would be unique in that I won't really be a graduate student. I will be taking some gen eds during the coursework, and it will pretty much act as my third and fourth year of undergrad. I pay basically just the meal plan thanks to scholarships and my dads employer (a university). So money is not an issue. Can't think of any more info to add! Thanks guys!
  11. Jul 30, 2013 #10
    I can't speak for everywhere but thesis based masters here are always funded
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