Master`s degree before PhD in Physics

In summary, the speaker is finishing their Bachelor's degree in physics and wants to pursue a PhD program. However, they are concerned about not having enough time to study for the GREs. They are considering getting a Master's degree in photonics from their current college, but are unsure if it will increase their chances of being accepted into a PhD program. The speaker's interests are in theoretical and computational physics, and the advice given is to gain research experience outside of their academic institution and get paid for it instead of pursuing a Master's degree that may not be necessary or desired.
  • #1
Hello folks, I know that Master`s degree is not a requirement for a PhD degree. Despite that, I am finishing my Bachelor`s of science in physics at June 2017 and I want to go to a PhD program. I am afraid that I cannot do it right away because I don`t have much time to study for GREs (difficult semester and I am doing REU this summer). I am studying physics at a small college which offers a master`s program that I am not interested in, but I can get master`s if I am going to stay in college for another year to study for GREs(until summer 2018).

My questions are: should I get a master`s degree in photonics that my college offers or just better try to find internships or research job that I am interested in during the year from summer 2017 to summer 2018 while staying in college and taking a few classes? Will the master`s degree increase my chances in getting into PhD program?

My interests are theoretical/computational physics.
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  • #2
One way of analyzing this is by asking yourself whether you would rather spend 10s of thousands more dollars getting a (MS) degree you don't really want or really need, or spending the year doing something you want and getting paid for it. Beyond finances, I don't believe that a quick and dirty MS at your present school is going to get you much traction with prospective PhD programs. My advice is to get some good research experience under your belt outside of your academic institution and get paid for it.

1. What is the benefit of obtaining a master's degree before pursuing a PhD in physics?

Obtaining a master's degree before a PhD in physics can provide a strong foundation in the fundamental concepts and theories of physics. It also allows students to gain research experience and refine their skills before embarking on a more advanced and rigorous PhD program.

2. How long does it typically take to complete a master's degree in physics?

The duration of a master's program in physics may vary, but it typically takes 1-2 years to complete. This can depend on factors such as the specific program and the student's progress.

3. Can a master's degree in physics be substituted for a bachelor's degree when applying for a PhD program?

No, a master's degree in physics cannot be substituted for a bachelor's degree when applying for a PhD program. A bachelor's degree is typically a prerequisite for a master's degree and a PhD program.

4. Are there specific areas of physics that a master's degree can specialize in?

Yes, there are various subfields of physics that a master's degree can specialize in, such as astrophysics, particle physics, condensed matter physics, and nuclear physics. Students can choose a program that aligns with their interests and career goals.

5. Can a master's degree in physics lead to job opportunities in addition to pursuing a PhD?

Yes, a master's degree in physics can open up job opportunities in research, teaching, and industry. It can also serve as a stepping stone for further education, such as a PhD program, or a career in a related field such as engineering or data science.

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