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Master in Condensed Matter Physics or Astrophysics

  1. Aug 19, 2014 #1
    Hi guys,

    I have a bachelor's degree in IT (software development, BAC+3), I am 27 years old and I live in Europe. I've always love space and astrophysics but I am interested in physics in general.

    I decided to go back to school to get a degree in physics but I am not quite sure about which master I should get (the two years after a bachelor, the equivalent is graduate studies I think).

    Where I want to study, the bachelor's degree in physics is more or less the same. The master programs, on the other hand, are completely different and I don't know which one to chose. I know that I will have to make that choice in 3 years only but the master path I chose will influence the bachelor's degree I choose too even if they are more or less the same between different schools.

    I read a lot that there are too many people who graduated from astrophysics and not enough jobs. I don't think I will try to get a PhD (unless I find it worth it to continue studying until I am 35 years old).

    The thing is that I will abandon my career in IT to study physics. I fell in love with sciences and I need to go back to school to study physics, for me and for my future.

    I would love to get a job in the space field but it will probably be hard so I don't know if it is really worth it to get a master in physics with a lot of optional courses related to astrophysics. Would it be "easy" to learn a lot of things related to astrophysics alone (once I have the required knowledge in maths and physics) ? It is probably better for me to study Condensed Matter Physics and learn astrophysics in my free time. I am almost certain that the master in "astrophysics" will be the more fun for me to study but I don't know if it is the right choice for my future.

    Also, choosing the master's degree in Physics (with a lot of optional courses in astrophysics) will be more expensive for me.

    As you can see, I am a bit lost. I don't know which path would be better for me (I will graduate when I am 32 years old and will probably have to start a career from scratch).

    Any advices ?

    Thanks a lot.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2014 #2
    Study the MS in astrophysics. You like it, so why not do it? If you study condensed matter, there is no time to seriously study astro once your thesis starts coming around.

    However, try to think about whether it is a *hobby* in astro you want, or a *career* in astro you want. Remember that you can study astro for fun, but a MS is 2 years, and 2 years is an investment.
     
  4. Aug 20, 2014 #3
    Hi,

    I love learning tons of things about astrophysics in general but I am not sure I want to try to get a PhD in Astrophysics and apparently, you need one if you want a career in astrophysics field.

    I love IT and software development too but I want it to be a tool and not get paid to only do that if that makes any sense. I love solving problems with maths and physics.

    I didn't mean to study astro during my MS (and thesis) but maybe later when I have nothing else to do, I could spend some times in books like "An Introduction to modern astrophysics" by Bradley W. Carroll

    The MS is not astrophysics, at the end I will graduate with a master's degree in Physics. I will just have a lot of optional courses related to astrophysics.

    Here is the master I am talking about :

    Master Physics at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Belgique)

    Master Physics : 1st year (French)

    Master Physics : 2nd year (French)

    Many optional courses about astrophysics are available.

    None of that can be found in the other university :

    Master's programm at the University of Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

    I guess that both degrees won't open the door for a job in the astro field directly, am I right ? If I were 18 years old, I would have chosen the degree in Physics at the ULB in Belgium but when I graduate, I will be 32 years old and I want to start a new career ASAP with something valuable.
     
  5. Aug 20, 2014 #4
    It's easy to love at the popular level, I blame Patrick Moore & Brian Cox. I took astrophysics at MSc level and it put me off astrophysics - it was mostly classical physics of a big gas cloud, and taught in a very slapdash manner. The height of boredom and complexity! Worst course I ever took. I liked my subsequent career in IT more than my physics degree: it was more interesting and a lot better paid (!) Instead of jacking in your career and finding you wish you hadn't, in four years time, why not take an Open University degree part time? Then you will determine if you *really* want to do astrophysics at MSc/PhD level. The OU have some good people in "astrophysical data analysis", and their key course looks a bit better than mine was:

    http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/modules/s382#details
     
  6. Aug 20, 2014 #5

    eri

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    I think it's odd that these masters programs do not list pre-requisites. In the US, you would have no hope of admission to a masters in physics with an IT background. You simply have not taken the 4 years of physics necessary to prepare you for the program. They don't start over at the beginning.
     
  7. Aug 21, 2014 #6
    I think it's simply an omission...
     
  8. Aug 21, 2014 #7
    I will start from the beginning.

    I will go through the bachelor's degree in Physics (3 years) and then the 2 years for the master.

    I am just asking those questions about the master because the bachelor's degrees are more or less the same and the master I choose will have an impact on the university I choose and the location and other stuff. That's why I need to know which master I should go for to know in which school I should go.

    No worries, it is the same in Europe, you have pre-requisites. :)
     
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