Master in Physics vs. Bachelors in Engineering?

  • #26
Hi all,

I am currently an undergraduate student in an Industrial & Systems Engineering program and have 3 semesters of courses left.

Over the past year and a half, I have learned through work experiences and research that I am very interested in Aerospace Engineering, specifically Aerospace Systems.

My question, is how difficult would it be to go into an Aerospace Engineering master's program with an Industrial & Systems background? More importantly I guess, would I even be admitted into an AE/ASE program? Another idea I can think of would be to go back later and pursue a 2nd bachelor's in mechanical engineering (and then look into an aerospace systems engineering master's). Would doing something like this be practical?

The program I am in includes standard industrial courses like operations research, Lean/6 Sigma, advanced statistics, and several other manufacturing courses and some systems classes in simulations, project management, cost and project life-cycle analysis, and a senior design project in space mission design. I do like all of my systems engineering courses and know they are very applicable to what I want to do after I graduate.

I also take some basic engineering core classes like statics, thermodynamics, mechanics of materials, circuits, and CAD as well as all of the Calc. courses, linear algebra, and differential equations.
  • #27
hey guys!

i'm new here :)

i am going to apply for master's studies in earth science. i have had a break in maths and phisics for the last two years... before that i studied this stuff in the University (and gained a diploma degree in ...something else.. not directly related to earth science but we really did a lot of calculations).. i am feeling like i forgot almost everything.. of course, i still have a few months before the semester begins to recall what i once used to know..

my question is for those of you, guys, who is / was studying geodesy on the master's level. what branches of maths and phisics are taught for students? is it much deeper than these on bachelor's level?

..i am asking because there is an option of bachelor's studies as well. though i wouldn't like to loose 3 years to study what i already know ... but also i am afraid i couldn't be good enough for master's studies.
  • #28
US citizen here. Just finishing my masters at a top English uni and am in a bit of a dilemma on where to apply: Europe (or non-US) or US.

My case for Europe is that I've already had a near-miss offer at Max Planck (I was third on a list that had 2 spots for my prospective supervisor) and may try for that again this year, but with a different supervisor. I like the fact that I don't have to pass quals there and the program only lasts a strict 3 years before you're booted out.

The case for the US is that I wouldn't have to drastically change my lifestyle to move my stuff around to a new university. However, I'm really awfully terribly **** at exams and am scared to death of quals. I passed my British exams, but having 6 in the period of a couple weeks wasn't easy. I'd sort of like to avoid that kind of death again.

How do I handle the application process for the US? Should I email people whose projects look interesting now or do I have to wait until I'm enrolled there to start asking people to have me as a research assistant?
  • #29
I'm a Greek physics student and I want to study theoretical or mathematical physics in a USA university. Because in our universities we don't have much research opportunities in an undergraduate level.

When I get my degree I can enter a math department and in two years I'll have my math degree, something like double major. (I'll do that because I really like math, not because it might boost my chances to get in a prestigious university).

But recently, it came to mind that I can do a master's degree here in Greece instead of doing the above, because it will take the same amount of time (2 years), and the GREs seem pretty easy. Should I go for a Master's or not?? Thanks you in advance.
  • #30
So I've read a lot about how it's very difficult to get into graduate school without research experience. By graduate school, do they mean for PhD or Masters as well? By the way, I am in Electrical Engineering.

Now I never did research during my summers because I did summer jobs with companies since I believed I will want to enter the industry when I graduate. I still think I still want to enter the industry after graduation.

However, i fear I may want to go back to get a M.Sc. after I work a bit if I found some parts of my discipline very interesting. Would I be burning bridges if I did absolutely no research during my undergrad? Could I still get in M.Sc. from good universities such as the University of Toronto? If for some reason after my Masters, I want to do a PhD, the research from my M.Sc. would definitely weigh over anything I did in undergrad right?

Thanks for your answers guys. I hope they are not too stupid because I never really ventured into thinking about these academia side of things before.
  • #31
Hi. I'm a 3rd year student currently pursuing a dual degree ( M.Sc Biology and B.E Chemical Engineering ) from BITS pilani . I'm planning to enroll in a masters program in physics at a US university. As I understand it, this kind of thing ( switching streams to physics ) is not easy. Two things,
1) Would it really be necessary to take advanced courses in physics, especially if I'm adequately prepared for the PGRE and do well in it? Does this depend on where you're applying ?
2) I'm looking at summer research interns at the moment. Would interdisciplinary work ( with a heavy emphasis on physics ) be considered, even though it isn't purely physics research? Does this depend on where you're applying?
  • #32
The job market for physicists lacking computational background (and perhaps for everyone except MDs) is horrible! This is true even when I keep all my options open: academia and industry. It seems like every postdoc position in any discipline is requires 'extensive' computational skills in addition to the specialty. I am actually starting to regret that I have ever done a PhD in physics! All I could get so far is part-time teaching and making less than a graduate student without any benefits!

With that aside, I have a chance to pursue a (paid!) MS in applied mathematics in the field of computational/mathematical biology from a prominent university in order to make myself a more competitive physicist. After completing this I will have 'extensive' computational skills in addition to my physics degree.

Do you think this is worth doing? Or I will just find myself at the beginning of another dark tunnel after two years? Should I just stick to my part-time until I find, someday, a full time position at a community college? At this time I simply want a full time position or something that will lead to it in order to feed my family.
  • #33
Hey guys, I started taking math courses only 2nd semester sophomore year due to a decision to switch career paths. By graduation, I'm going to have some research experience under my belt, but most of my more advanced coursework is going to take place next year, so it won't appear on my transcript. Moreover, I know I can secure research with a professor 2nd semester next year (he's on sabbatical till then), and that won't be appear on applications if I apply to grad schools next fall/winter. Therefore, I've been thinking of applying to graduate schools the following fall. Is this a good idea? I'd have more good coursework, more research experience, and I'll be closer to my rec writers, since I'll have done research with one of them. However, I've heard it's bad to not be doing anything during the year? Do any of you have recommendations on things I should focus on doing during that year I'll have free between graduating and attending grad school? I've been thinking of applying to some Canadian masters programs, as I have a decent math background and many of them provide funding for masters students (some also have more research oriented math programs). Are there any US schools that are more known to give funding for masters programs?

And finally, does all of this sound like a good idea? Maybe I should just go ahead and apply next semester, but I feel like I'm at a big disadvantage having started taking math classes so much later and having these time constraints for taking GREs and such.

  • #34
Hello all,

I'm guessing this question has been answered before but I couldnt find it for some reason. Anyway, my interests are in Geodynamics, and I gota 3.08 GPA in physics for my undergrad and Now a 3.8 GPA for my masters in geology. I am wondering if this will offset my undergrad gpa and allow me to apply.

A couple things... I won the award for physics at the honors convocation for my school even though I had a low GPA, citing my creativity in research and desire to expand the field. Also im switching fields.

When I applied for PhD in earth sciences, I didn't do too hot (hence the MSc). I am wondering if I even have a shot at a top 10 school... perhaps it is stupid of me to even ask.
  • #35
Hey everybody, I am trying to decide whether I should go to either SDSU or Cal Poly (SLO) for my
masters in mathematics. The conflict I am having is that SDSU offers a wide selection of graduate
courses, but has a small faculty which negatively impacts the availability of those courses. For example they have to alternate between offering graduate real analysis and complex analysis each year since it appears only one professor can teach them. Other courses, like topology, are simply no longer offered or just show up randomly.

Cal poly on the other hand has many faculty, but doesn't offer much in graduate courses. They have two quarters in topology, discrete math, applied analysis, and a single quarter in Real Analysis and Galois theory.

My goal is to go on to a phd program in mathematics and I am not sure which choice would be the most beneficial. I know that I want to write a masters thesis and so I think having a larger faculty will help with that. Either way, I appreciate any help you guys can offer.
  • #36
Good day everyone,

Let me introduce myself. I am currently in the process of getting everything together to start applying for masters programs in physics, for the year 2014-2015. I am a 20 year old student from the Amsterdam University College, in my third and final year of my physics education. Well, in all honesty, AUC offers a liberal arts and science program. Exactly how I will convince the universities that I am applying to that my education is not sub-par compared to a normal physics program is a topic for a different thread entirely I'm afraid, so for the sake of this topic I will just assume that this is not an issue.
I suppose it is also important to describe what kind of physicist I hope to be. The truth is that I do not know if I want to pursue a degree in academics or in the industry, but what I do know is that in any case I want to work on something that is not purely theoretical. Hoping that I will not offend anyone, let me put it this way; I want to work on things that in principle can be applied, in a direct manner. I do not need to be the engineer that puts things together, and I do not necessarily need to be an experimentalist either, working on the theory of possibly experiments is fine too. I just don't want to focus on the standard model, or things beyond that, I suppose.
Moreover, I currently also plan on pursuing a PhD after I get my masters degree. Where and what I am not sure of, although qubit research is something I find very interesting.

In this topic I want to focus on three programs that I would love to be able to pursue, and I would like to hear your opinions on the pro's and cons.

  • The MASt in Experimental and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, which is taught alongside the Part III of the undergraduate MSci Physics Tripos and is designed to act as a top-up course for students who hold a 3-year undergraduate degree who wish to pursue a research degree within the department. This is exactly what I am, as I will have finished a 3 year long bachelor program. I like this program not only because of Cambridge's amazing reputation, but also because I would love to do a PhD there, possibly something like the NanoDTC. The down side I see with this program is that it is only 9 months, whereas European masters degrees are typically 1.5-2 years long. Should I instead take a look at the MPhil in Physics Cambridge offers?
  • The MSc in Physics at Imperial College London, tailored to BSc graduates. It even has the option of doing extended research (should I?). Without extended research it is 12 months long, and with it is 2 years. A definite edge over Cambridge is that there are no obligatory college fees. (Funding is definitely something I will have to look at, but that's not the subject of this thread)
  • The Msc in Physics at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. This is, just like the Msc at Imperial, a program that is tailored to the European bachelor program, so it should fit mine. It is a year and a half long, and thus it feels like it might be one of the more 'complete' programs. A downside is the cost of living in Switzerland, which is huge, but then again the admission costs are low. Frankly speaking though, the idea of living in a German speaking city seems less attractive than living in an English speaking one.

These are the programs that I am considering. Originally doing a masters degree in physics at Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne or Ludwig Maximilian München were also on my list, but I really do not speak any French, which makes living there a lot harder, and somehow München doesn't really attract me.

From what I already wrote above, the way I see is that the Cambridge degree has two important advantages: the name, and the possibility of doing a PhD there. A definite con is that it is the shortest of the programs, as well as the fact that it might not be a perfect match to a standard European bachelor, as it is basically just part III of their own program. I am also not able to find a wealth of information regarding peoples experience with this program, so if anyone has some, please do share them!

Imperial College has the advantage of relatively low costs, and the possibility of extended research. Now, I am (as of now) planning to also pursue a PhD, so this might not be the most logical thing to do (or is it?), but studying for a longer period of time never hurts, I would think. They are also a top 10 university when it comes to Physics (as far as I know), but they obviously don't have the Cambridge reputation.

Finally, ETH Zurich also seems like a solid choice. I have a professor that did research there for quite a while, and he is definitely an intellectual force to be reckoned with (very subjective, I know). Their program is the longest, offering 1.5 years, and it also naturally fits to the European bachelor. I do speak a little German, so I won't be lost completely, but it is still less attractive.

Now, the reason I started this thread is to ask if anyone could give me any qualitative advice on why to (or not to) pick one of these above the others. I fully understand that I have NOT yet been accepted, and that I might not, but this is just hypothetical. I would love to hear about experiences with any of them, and which ones are more theoretical or experimental and such. I have of course read all the accompanying webpages, but they are never very extensive.
  • #37
I am in my fourth of five years as a BS/BA candidate in civil engineering and music at a liberal arts school. I'd like to get my masters degree after my 5th year. I'm considering staying here for one more year to do it. I have a great research adviser, there is a stipend offered, and I could start in my 5th year and finish in one extra year. But I do know that the quality of education here isn't as good as other places. Does anyone have any suggestions of some universities that have good geotech programs? I'd like to limit my search to the Northeast/Midwest or possibly Southeast (as in, not Texas or California). Ideally, I'd like to find a program with a stipend or some other sort of monetary help, because I can't really afford to pay for my masters degree in full.
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you very much!
  • #38

I have a question for anyone who has specialized in Computational Science.

I'm a physics student at my final bachelor year and I've been thinking about what I want to study at my masters degree. One of the subjects that has caught my eye is Computational Science. I am not a career-oriented person and I would rather not study far away from my hometown for reasons that don't need to be mentioned. However, the educational offer in Computational Science that fulfills this requirement is scarce.

One of the degrees that has caught my eye is in Galicia, and it specializes in High Performance Computing (which is a main aspect of Computational Sicience):

I didn't rule out the possibility of studying elsewhere in Europe, where there is much more offer, e.g.:

My question is: How does the High performance computing degree in Galicia compare with the others I've linked (pure Computational Science degrees)? Is it much different?

It sounds to me like the degree in Galicia is much more oriented to computer scientists, and is less interdisciplinary, which leaves me a little wary.
  • #39
I am a third year physics and mathematics bachelor student at Utrecht University, and I'm currently thinking about applying for the honours master Theoretical Physics and Mathematics.

I was wondering, though whether there were other Theoretical Physics masters that have a similar focus on mathematics, and whether it would be worth it to apply for them. A mathematical course focused on physics would also be fine, as I should have the mathematical background for it.

Any suggestions? Thanks!
  • #40
I like using computations/modeling/simulation for many kinds of physical problems, whether it be for molecular dynamics simulations, CFD, DFT to determine the electronic structure and properties of materials, electromagnetics, optics, etc. I'm not interested in things like circuits, antennas, etc. However, I want to work in industry not academia

I am in the middle of a Physics Phd program now. I took a year off for a leave of absence to work as a programmer, but found out that although I like it, I don't have a passion for it. Although I no longer want the PhD, I can return and get my Masters. I want to work in industry in almost any area that resembles computational physics (that is, using software to solve physical problems).

To obtain the Masters in physics, I have to work on a thesis for at least 2 semesters. I really just want to get the degree and get out asap. If I do the MS in EE or MatSci, I don't have to do a thesis. However, I will get funding in the Physics program and can enter in Fall 2014 (and maybe even start on the thesis this summer). For EE or MatSci, I can't start until Fall 2015 and won't get funding.

Should I re-enter the Physics program anyways? If I should enter the engineering program instead, what could I possibly do until I'm admitted, given that Physics BS applicants have alot of difficulty getting engineering jobs?
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  • #41
Hello everyone,

I was wondering if anyone knows of some schools that offer online masters in EE specializing in power electronics.

So far the only ones I can find only are UC boulder, USC, and U of Wisconsin madison.

Apart from these it seems like most are just EE programs without the focus.

Thanks in advance for any input!
  • #42

I just got my undergraduate degree in physics from the unviersity of Athens with a very good mark ( not the best but surely i am considered to be a top 20 at least for my class).

I am searching for a good master's(or doc if allegible) program in europe on the topic of theoretical (high energy) physics.

For instance, i have searched the ETH masters (which can be done in the cooporation with ecole polytechnique or the ecole normale program.

I would like some suggestions and also of the possibility to get a scholarship or in contrary the amount of money I would need to get by .. ( Information about part time jobs would be also useful )
  • #43
Hi, I'm an undergraduate student studying Physics in Europe. I'm thinking of applying for a Master in a UK university. I was considering Cambridge and Imperial at the moment. I've read that Cambridge offers two courses: a MAst (predominantly taught) and a MPhil (predominantly research); on the other hand Imperial offers a MSc in Physics (with the possibility of one year of extended research). I'm planning to pursue a PhD, not necessarily in the UK.

Here in Europe a MSc usually lasts two years and has both a big part of teaching and a thesis at the end, therefore I have a few doubts about Cambridge courses, which seem to me a bit unbalanced (towards teaching or towards resarch) compared to the Imperial ones, but of course there must be some valid reason I can't see for this. Could you clarify my ideas?

What are your opinions on these courses and how do they compare? Is the research done during a MAst enough for a PhD outside Cambridge? And what about the taught parts during a MPhil?

P.S. Don't misunderstand me, of course at Cambridge they know better than me what's better for students, I would just like to understand how the Master system works in the UK :)
  • #44
I am interested in doing my masters in the direction quantum computing i.e. quantum information theory/computational physics and would like to know if anyone can recommend some master programs that are in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. Any help is appreciated.

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