Master in Physics vs. Bachelors in Engineering?

  • #1
I am doing a BS in chemistry and I enjoy the subject alot. I find the graduate level classes, based on their academic descriptions, to be subjects I'd really like to learn just for the experience of knowing these subjects. When I graduate I should have a 3.3 CGPA with B's in most of my chemistry courses. Not great, but not bottom of the barrel either. I'd have a few years of work experience before I tried grad school too.

However I don't think I want a full doctorate. The main reason i'd go to grad school wouldn't be to advance my career (MS doesn't offer many advances beyond a BS) or for the money (i'm a frugal single person so I don't need the extra money) it would be for a chance to learn graduate level chemistry subjects like quantum theory and atomic interaction, the biochemistry of protein and DNA synthesis or advanced organic synthesis.

Is there a such thing as an MS program that lets you transfer your MS credits into a doctorate program just in case I decide to do a full doctorate 10 year afterwards? Are there MS programs that offer tuition reimbursement and stipends (if not i'd probably have to try to get into a PhD program then drop out after 2-3 years)? What are the qualifications for a graduate level stipend/tuition reimbursement package? Is a MS good for anything in the working world of chemistry (i'd do it just to learn the material but if I can get career benefits out of it then all the better). Maybe I should just learn this stuff at the library but I don't think i'd have the self discipline to study and learn 30 hours a week in my free time for 2 years like I would in a school setting.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I am currently doing a science degree in statistics and applied maths in NUI Maynooth in Ireland.

My interests in both range from probability, game theory and combinatorics to epidemiology.

I want to get some ideas on research for next academic year in any of the above areas, my main focus at the minute is in either game theory or combinatorics.

My main problem being that I want to remain in my current university, or at least close to it.

If anyone knows any good sites I can get ideas from, or has any ideas themselves, throw them out there!

Thank you.
  • #3

I graduated from UC Berkeley several years ago with a degree in biology with a good GPA (3.98/4.00) though with very few math classes.

I'm now interested in studying either computer science or computer engineering to conduct applied research in AI.

I have two main options:

1) Pursue a 2nd bachelor's degree at Berkeley (top 3 program)

2) Pursue a postbac/masters at a less competitive university

Looking online, I've found that Brandeis and Boston University both offer a combined postbac/masters program in CS or computer engineering that I could probably complete in 3-4 years. My only fear is that this route will make me less competitive for PhD programs once I'm out. They include no required work in physics. The 2nd bachelor's would also require about 3 years but I'd have to take a huge number of diverse classes in physics/cs/math in comparison.

My ultimate goal is to received a PhD in computer science or engineering with an emphasis in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. My dream grad programs are at CMU and GeorgiaTech. I'm currently on the East Coast but am still classified as a California resident.

I'd appreciate any advice you can give!

Thanks much!
  • #4
I currently have a 3.4 overall GPA at a top 5 engineering school and GRE scores of quant 800, verbal 580 and a math subject score of 820. My GPA was horrible during my first two years of school (I hovered around a 2.0). However in the last three semesters I have received straight A's and have taken 5 graduate level math classes and am planning on taking 3 more before I graduate. I have little research experience (no papers published, just supervised research under a professor). What are my chances of getting into UC Davis or UC Irvine for their MS programs in mathematics? Are there any other schools I should apply to in case my application looks weak?
Thanks, :smile:
  • #5
First of all, is a course in Nanotechnology or Nanoscience worth it or is it just a lot of hype?

What can I do after a masters in Nanotech/science?

Is it better to do it in UK or in USA?

USA has only two colleges that offer this course, namely Rice and SUNY-Albany. But, there are a lot of colleges that offer it in the UK. Which is better?

More importantly, what are my job prospects after a Masters degree? If I do go abroad to do it, I would be taking a heavy loan that I would need to pay back. So the important thing is, how much of it is really worth it? Are jobs available after a masters course in nanotech? or are they just reserved for PhDs?

I would greatly appreciate it if I could get some advice on this. I'm really confused by the whole thing.

Googling for answers has made me only ask more questions, so I thought I would ask you guys! :D

Thanks for any help on the same.
  • #6
Hi. My goal is to go from my BS in pure math from Stony Brook into a PH.d in theoretical physics.

I am wondering if a terminal masters is the right path to take. I do not have all the undergraduate courses in physics.

Or would it be better to go into a lesser known PH.d program?

I would prefer a more well known program to help me land a post doc and eventually tenure, and I am wondering if a terminal masters would do the trick?

The program I am looking at is Western Illinois University, found here

Thank you so much!
  • #7
I am a student of physics and I decided some time ago that I wanted to do a Masters Degree in Theoretical Physics. I have applied for 4 universities and I have already been admitted in three of them. The universities are the following:
-Perimeter Institute
-Amsterdam University (UvA)
-Utrecht University (UU)

I am sure that I want to do a PhD afterwards. I am interested in a wide range of topics, form Quantum mechanics to General relativity, and I would like to find out what I like most during this MSc.

What university/programme do you think is better? To be honest I like very much the four of them and it is being really difficult to decide!

Thanks in advance for your comments!
  • #8
Heading towards Masters physics??

Hoping someone can help with some insight as to whether or not I can handle this:

I am currently in my second year at university. In my first year I was doing physics, computational and applied maths, maths and physics as part of my bsc degree. I passed physics and applied maths with low 60's. Computer Science 70% and scraped maths with a low 50. As per the univerity curriculum I dropped one subject (computer science-i didn't find it interesting/challenging enough) In my third year most students here double major. I plan on Majoring in computational and applied maths and physics.

At the moment I am scraping my subjects with mostly 50's and if I'm lucky a 60 here and there. now and then a 40 creeps in. My dream is to do computational physics. At my university a large portion of Honours level physics involved computational physics. They then removed this. If I want to do computational physics I would have to do a masters degree in computational physics.

Now, as with most students we have no idea what lies in store for me later on. Most of my friends call me crazy for wanting to eventually do a masters, considering I am just an averagely smart guy, and not your run of the mill genius lol. So now since I am battling in only my second year, I am doubting whether I will be able to get past my Honours level physics in the future. I'm under the impression that you have to be a completely exceptional student cracking 70's and 80's to get anywhere high in the science field.

I really want to stay in the Bsc field, and do not want to end up failing in 2 years time and not knowing what to do with my life. Am I cut out for the degree I'm in?

I would appreciate a reply from someone knowledgable in university bsc courses.
Thanks in advance.
  • #9
Hi Everyone,

Just as a background, I am currently a junior in AE at Georgia Tech. My GPA is currently 3.7, and hopefully I can get it up during the next semester. I am looking towards applying to a Masters in Aerospace Engineering at Stanford, MIT, and Caltech in that order of priority. I am part of Georgia Tech's AE Honors Program which is a 5 year BS/MS degree, which I also have the option of pursuing.
I have had jobs at Flight Safety, GE, and NAVAIR for the past three summers.
I have also been doing research for the past 4 semesters.
I am also a SMART scholarship recipient, the government is sponsoring my degree BS and MS degree in which I would have to work for them for 3 years to "pay off" the money they spent on me, however they were under the impression that I would finish my MS within one year so I am looking for 1 year programs. I just took my GRE two days ago and did horrible 730 Q and 450 V so I am going to retake in October. Finally (sorry its so long), I want to do my PhD in AE or an MBA and I am confused on which to pursue, and this would be after working for the govt for 3 years. I would love any advice that anyone would want to give me.

On another note, I have been really discouraged by my GRE score. I am taking a week break and starting to practice again. Hopefully since the semester is starting soon, that will help me become sharper in my problem solving abilities. I was wondering what techniques everyone uses to keep themselves sharp in terms of math and problem solving.

Thank you everyone for your input!
  • #10
Hello, I study EP at a pretty respectable but not world-renown european university of technology. My study performance while doing my bachelors was mediocre due to working at the same time etc.

I'm one year into my masters' and my grades are clearly above average now. Since I feel like I don't know what to do next I'd love to go have a peek for a term on the other side of the large pond. My Uni does not have very good exchange deals to the states for EP so I would have to look for something myself.

I would like to do exchange for engineering physics, I'd want to go to a place where I'd see "what's available out there on the top level". The obvious thing to think of is MIT or Caltech I guess?

I see they both have some sort of non-graduate exchange programs which are pretty restrictive. Is there anything else i could look at that would let me onto campus etc.?

Any tips on what to write on an application? any clues on how restrictive these top schools are when taking non-graduate students?

I should go next spring if I want to go before i graduate. I very well might be eligible for scholarships and I have some savings. So i don't think the costs are *the* final issue.

  • #11
First to give some background about my situation, I am currently a senior studying mechanical engineering at Rowan University. I will be receiving my B.S. in mechanical engineering at the end of this academic year with a GPA of (hopefully) just under 3.5.

I realize that it's very late to still be contemplating whether or not grad school is the right choice, but I've finally made up my mind. For a long time I didn't think it would make sense financially to attend grad school because of all the debt that would be associated. I decided that I'd rather obtain my M.S. now and worry about the debt later because I think it will be an experience worth having, as well as an asset to my future professional career.

However, I'm still undecided about what I'd like to specialize in. I enjoy doing calculus and mathematics so it seems that FEA would be very interesting, but I'm not sure if I have enough experience to get into a good FEM program (if programs specific to FEM even exist). I'm taking my GRE on Wednesday, and I'd really like to send my scores to four schools because those four are free.

Also, what's the first step in trying to obtain financial aid for graduate school? Again, I realize I'm very late in just trying to figure this out which is why I'm asking all possible sources for help (I'm trying to meet with my adviser sometime this week). What is the average percentage of graduate students who receive school-funded aid, and how much on average do they receive?

Thank you for any help you can provide.
  • #12
Hey folk I'm looking for a bit of advice on what specifically to do my masters project (dissertation, thesis however it's named) on. I already have a 'title' but need more specific info. First some background details.

I'm a maths masters student but I would love my career to be in space technology (i.e. working for a firm like ESA, UK Space Agency, EADS Astrium, etc).

I chose my current university based on the fact they offered astrophysics/astronomy courses that I could take with my maths degree and I'm loving them so far. This is my first real time studying astrophysics in this level of detail but space in general has always fascinated me.

But anyway, I have since spoken to some of the managers at one of the companies mentioned above and have received advice on what I should do my project on. I figure this would be a much better thing to put on my CV than just a standard project in some branch of maths.

They gave me a couple of potential titles for me to explore and the one that I'm most interested in is...

Obtaining analytical solutions for orbits round the Lagrange points subject to non-gravitational perturbations.

This ties in perfectly with a course I'm doing based on the solar system and we just finished learning all about Lagrange points. I figure I will be mainly concentrating on orbits around L1 and L2 (or if you label them differently, the ones close to the small mass).

I thought the title was pretty self explanatory but having gone and found a potential supervisor for this project, he wanted to know what my exact goal was which is what I'm trying to figure out now.

This is where I could maybe do with a bit of help as I'm somewhat new to astrophysics so I'm unfamiliar what kind of work people do on this sort of thing.

Since I'm a mathematician, I'd like the project to be as mathematical as possible! I'd probably prefer to stay away from the engineering side of thing, as in, anything involving rocket/satellite thrust, power etc, and I think perhaps doing something involving particles of negligible mass would be the way to go.

I don't have to do ANY original research as much as I would like to so you could suggest an explored problem if you like however I'm open to all suggestions.

I know L1 and L2 are unstable so perhaps calculating a position of a particle after a set time based on initial conditions near one the points is something to look into. Perhaps this is too easy/hard though (this is why I need help, I can't judge how difficult a problem is!).

I'm guessing chaos will come into play though so I think it could potentially be a challenging question (but is it masters level?).

I also have a reading list which I'll put after this. I don't have to actually start this until May but I'm starting early since I'm not as familiar with this as I am with certain maths topics.

Generating families in the restricted three body problem, Michel Henon

A book by Morbidelli which I have forgotten the name of (have it written down somewhere)

Non gravitational perturbations and satellite geodesy, Milani

Dynamics and mission design near liberation points, Gomez

Also a paper by my supervisor.

So thanks in advance and sorry for the long read! If you need any more info just ask.
  • #13
Hello all!

I have been searching far and wide for good MSc degree programs in high performance computing, scientific computing, and applied (computational) mathematics that offer distance learning and online programs. I'm working full time and I really like my job and where I am, but there are no MS degrees of this nature close enough to be practical for me, so I'm hoping to be able to do my Masters completely online. I know Georgia Tech has a scientific computing Masters program that is almost fully available online, and University of Washington has a fully online applied mathematics program that focuses mainly on computational mathematics, but I'd like a few more options. Anybody know of any other good online Masters programs of this nature? Thanks!
  • #14
I originally studied chemical engineering as an undergrad, but now I am doing my master's degree in nuclear engineering, with the focus on nuclear fusion plasma physics. After a few months into research, I feel that I really cannot continue simulating and writing papers for the rest of my life. So, I am considering quitting school after I get the degree. The question is, what can I do with a master's degree in nuclear engineering? Should I quit and find chemical engineering job right away?

Thanks for your reply. :smile:
  • #15
Hi guys, thought that I could use a little more guidance and advice from those who are already in the field. I've searched around, but the situation I am in is rather different.

I'm from a very tiny island in south-east asia and have a BEng in Engineering (Automotive) from Australia. The problem is that where I come from, there is little or no industry that I am interested in. The level of engineering isn't that fantastic, and more towards application engineering (which I'm not very excited about). I've worked for a couple of months back home and left primarily because it wasn't challenging enough and I felt like I wasted money getting a degree.

My primary goal is to work for an automotive consultant company or similar, preferably doing design, innovation or research work. I've always loved cars and did my final year project with my uni's formula sae team.

My next step is to get a graduate degree, as I felt that undergrad wasn't detailed enough in theory and I want to learn more. I've applied to Melbourne University's MEng program and was accepted. However one thing is constantly on my mind: What is the actual value of a masters degree over a bachelors, and over a Ph.D? I don't mean returns of investment since I'm not on a loan (which is what most articles are about). I'm talking about chances of getting hired by potential employees and the job scope. Will a masters degree give significant advantage over a bachelors + 2 years experience? By the way when I was working, I noticed the difference between 2 years of employment and 2 years of experience. The former is merely following orders from higher ups and basically just surviving/existing in the company.

Would it be more worth it to strive for a Ph.D instead? Since some people view a masters as a neither here-nor-there qualification stuck between a bachelors and Ph.D.

Also, are there any ways or paths to getting the kind of job I'm interested in overseas? Unfortunately in most countries, a work visa is required before they even consider your application. I understand that the automotive r&d hubs are in Europe, UK and in the US. Since I've not much work experience, are there any ways to get a job overseas? I'm willing to work for less salary just to do something that I really like. Another reason of getting a graduate degree is hopefully more opportunities to work with the industry, but I might just go with formula sae again. =/
  • #16
So I'm nearing the end of a MS in Engineering Physics (hopefully not more than 2-3 more part-time semesters... having a day job has its draw backs). What I'm interested in hearing about is on the "now what?"

I have senior coworkers who think I should get a PhD (would probably be Nuclear Engineering given both intellectual interest and that I work in the nuclear industry), others have suggested following the MS with a MBA. Frankly all I can think is about how nice it would be to sleep at night without thinking about problem sets and exams.

So, what are opinions about the two options my coworkers keep suggesting (nay, keep pushing).
  • #17
Greetings everyone!

So, I'm interested in all aspects of Telecommunications and Networking(from application software, to the electronics). This year I'm about to receive my diploma (Computer & Telecommunications Engineering) and thinking of going abroad to further my studies.

I've found a pretty good Master's program which covers a broad area of the subject (didn't really believe there was any program as comprehensive as this, just like I want it) and the people involved work closely with the industry.


So, I was wondering if you know any other good program like this.
  • #18
Well, I find this program and its scope very interesting. I'll have a B.S. Math and Physics Minor in May, so I assume I'm well-prepared quantitatively for the coursework. However, it's very expensive. Is Drexel University a reputable school? This program would cost in total about $45K. Is it even worth it? It's an online program, so I could continue with my part-time position while pursuing this degree. Any general comments, admonitions, or rebukes are welcome. Also, any additional ideas for procuring graduate scholarships or funding?
  • #19
I am currently on track to completing my BS in Physics w/ a Math minor; I should be graduating May of next year (2013) and I'm trying to decide where to go from there. I have a strong interest in medical science, primarily oncology and to be more specific, genetic level treatment and possible beneficial uses of knowledge gleaned from cancer cells. My other major area of interest is aerospace simply because I love to fly. I wanted to be an Air Force pilot but apparently I'm already too old at 27 (29 when graduated) to have a serious application to Air Force flight school; the same restriction holds for Navy and USMC. I've considered taking the medical route with the idea of earning enough to afford a flight hobby but I'm not sure what the pay is like as an oncology researcher or if I'm on track for something like that anyway. Ultimately I'll be applying for an Astronaut slot which is why I'm also drawn to something in the realm of Aersopace Engineering. I don't claim to have any real idea of what I'm doing here or what my next step should be so any educated advice would be greatly appreciated. I know what I want my future to look like, I'm just trying to work out the steps. Thanks in advance.
  • #20
hello, i recently graduated from civil engineering; i am an international student and i would like to go for a masters degree on something related to civil engineering; i would like to ask for opinions on master degrees that a civil engr could pursue (if it counts i liked my transportation, environmental and structural classes; didn't like foundations, geotech and anything water related very much).

Also what universities would you recommend to study my masters? preferably that are not that expensive, have good professors, and that offer support for international students.

Thanks a lot, i would appreciate A LOT any guidance you can give.
  • #21
For a masters in mathematics (most likely concentrating on Pure Math course) I'm deciding on whether to go to a school like NYU vs a school like Queens College or any other CUNY or SUNY school.

My question is really, is it worth the cost for the name? Classes at NYU are about 4k per and QC are about 1/4 that. I don't know what my ultimate goal will be with the degree, and from what I've gathered from professors and advisors I've spoken with my options will open up the more I learn about the field. Though right now were you to ask what my dream job would be I would probably say to teach a couple of classes at a university and work for them doing research (following in the footsteps of a young professor I know who has become a friend).

Some important information to know about my situation is: I'm 30 years old, recently engaged, have a BA in Economics, had a good job in the Finance field at a very reputable company, and now work in Real Estate Development. For the last 2 years I've worked to complete the "essential" courses to even consider applying for a masters, e.g. Calc I, II, and III (multivariable), Linear Algebra, and a Mathematical Proofs course. I intend to spend 1 more year loading up on undergrad courses before applying, taking such courses as Real Analysis, Abstract Algebra, Point Set Toplology, Functions of a Real Variable and Discrete Mathematics, possibly probability. (although my schedule is not set in stone).

My job is very flexible, as I now work for family not a stiff brokerage firm, so cutting back my hours to focus on my studies shouldn't be a problem (my pay would be cut too of course, but I've factored that in).

To tell you the truth, I couldn't even come close to affording NYU at this stage in my life, however, were I to be accepted my family may POSSIBLY help me out, but let's not go with personal family history hypotheticals here.

Bottom line, I'd just like to know if the $$$ is worth it in the end. I don't mean really the education... I think education is what you get out of it (Sure, I attend my classes, but I also spend much of my free time studying other topics or learning more than what my classes teach), but will a degree from NYU open many more doors (work, acceptance to phd programs) than a degree from QC.

I tend to elaborate a little too much on my posts, sorry this was a long one....though if you somehow need any more info let me know!

thanks guys!
  • #22
So, I am basically wondering what I would be better off with in terms of job opportunities and pay scale, a Masters in Physics or a Bachelors in Engineering?

If I could major in both...I would. However, the school I go to (University of Cincinnati) has these mandatory co-op programs for engineering that not only extend the major by another year, but they will make it very difficult for me to maintain my job ( I manage a small retail store), but I am willing to do whatever it takes.

But considering that majoring in Engineering will take me a good 6 years (its a 5 year program plus I had to start out with beginning algebra), I figure I could obtain both a Bachelors AND a Masters in Physics within those 6 years, plus have more time for research, electives, etc.

My long term goal is to earn a PhD in physics. However, I would really like to be able to get a job in the field WHILE going to graduate school for the PhD. Plus, you never know when unexpected life events might determine that continuing with graduate school is not an option! Everywhere I look online suggests that engineers have a much easier time finding jobs, and good paying ones, in comparison to Physics majors. How much would having a Masters in Physics make a difference?

If I go with the Engineering Bachelors, can I jump right into a Physics Masters program afterwards?

I am truly interested in both of these fields. I have to make a decision by next fall, and not knowing what I might or might not regret doing is driving me crazy!
  • #23
Long story short: I got into a lower ranked school for PhD in Mathematics and a top ranked school for Masters in computational mathematics. My interest is theory and my only reason for applying to computational program was as a backup. What I ultimately want to do is mathematics(analysis) and I am kind of confused what I should do

(A) Do the masters, take some grad courses and reapply to top schools
(B) Just do straight PhD Maths which is what I want to do

I could see pros and cons in both and I was hoping if people who have been in this path could share their wisdom

  • #24

Currently I'm finishing a masters' degree in Econometrics in Holland, I posses a physics bachelors, and did a ton of mathematics courses on the side during, my studies.

Here it is common to do both a bachelors and a masters, and after that either start work or do a PhD. I feel like I am on a crossroads in my life. For econometricians there is a lot of well paying jobs here in the Netherlands (usually really work intensive though =P). However what really attracts me is experiencing foreign cultures: I want to go abroad, preferably China, or Brazil for some reason.

I guess I'm posting here because any and all advice is welcome.

Does anyone know of any nice jobs or PhD positions in Brazil or China, or some other non-western culture? Or even better, do you know of an efficient way of looking for some? Some useful links could be super.
  • #25
I have a master's degree in Chemical Engineering. Ever since I was a little kid universe and how it works have always kept me wondering.
Now that I have an appropriate background, I think, in relevant math, physics, and chemistry, I would like to dig in a little deeper than a television documentary series on universe. I do not have money and time to go back to school and would like to teach myself. What books do you guys recommend. I do not mind if it takes years to fully understand, would like to mathematically solve, derive, express astrophysical concepts and ideas.
I have to refresh my memories though.
I plan to review Fluid Mechanics with my old textbook, An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics by G. K. Batchelor
I plan to teach myself statistical mechanics with Statistical Mechanics by McQuarrie
What books would you recommend after mastering the two books above?
I wanted to learn Complex Analysis next. I am seeing that 2 books, Complex Analysis by Lars Ahlfors and Complex Variables (Dover Books on Mathematics) by Francis J. Flanigan are what I will get.
Thank you in advance.
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