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Masters Degree Prior to PhD

Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi,

I would like to get into a good physics graduate program but my undergraduate background is probably not good enough to achieve that. So, I was wondering if it is advisable to get a terminal masters degree at a middle tier school as a stepping stone for getting into a better school's PhD program. The idea being that with good grades in the program and some research experience it would improve my ability of getting into a better school. I am also curious if this something that is very common for the top tier schools?

Thanks to everyone for your input.
 

Answers and Replies

258
1
Thats sort of the way I was planning to go. However, I got the MS and went to work instead hehe. I'm still thinking about going back so I'll be interested in the answers you get as well. One thing is certain, it couldn't hurt!
 
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Somethings to consider:

It depends on where you plan on doing your masters, but they might not offer any financial aid. I dunno if this is a concern for you, but having to pay 2 years of graduate tuition is not so great. It literally also matters WHERE you are doing your masters, close to home, far away? Paying tuition along with living expenses is brutal. Do you plan on going part time? Full time? These are some things to consider.

I plan on doing my Masters at NYU in pure math and then hopefully jumping to a school more suited for mathematical physics.
 
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The number of physics graduate students at the top-tier schools who do this is very, very small. That suggests that this strategy may be less effective than you think it will be.
 
11
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I have an older bro who went this route with math. He had a less than impressive gpa with his BS in physics, found it difficult to get related job, and headed back to grad school a few years later. He didn't get much in the way of financial help at first, but he made it through with his MS in math in 3 semesters with a TA position the last two and a 4.0 gpa. Now he's at his top choice working on his phd, TA position and all :)
 
Interesting, thanks for all of your input.
 

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