Masters in Physics enough for Aerospace Engineering?

In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of transitioning from a career in physics to a career in engineering, specifically in the aerospace industry. The individual has a MS in Physics, but is interested in pursuing a career in engineering and is wondering if a PhD in Aerospace Engineering is necessary. Others in the conversation offer their experiences and advice, including the option of gaining industry experience instead of pursuing a PhD. There is also mention of the importance of having an ABET accredited engineering degree and the possibility of getting a PhD in engineering without a BS_E first.
  • #1
Reingley
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I currently have a MS in Physics and a MAT (masters in teaching - physics) and have worked the past two years as a high school physics teacher. However, I am feeling more inclined to move towards a career in engineering, particularly in the aerospace industry (rocket testing and design in particular).

If possible, I would like to move directly into the field. This is not because I am uninterested in furthering my education, but am more concerned with how ~6 years in a PhD program would align with my other life goals. I am not ruling it out, though.

What do the prospects look like in this field for somebody who has a MS in Physics? Is a PhD program in Aerospace Engineering necessary?

Thanks for any input!
 
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  • #2
In a prior lifetime, I tried to go from a PhD in math to Engineering. All the departments demanded years of undergraduate engineering courses except one -- Industrial Engineering with an emphasis on Operations Research. I doubt that Aero Engineering will accept you without a lot of undergrad courses. Your experience may be different, but you should keep that in mind.

PS. My experience of going onto Industrial Engineering and Operations Research was the best move I ever made.
 
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  • #3
If your masters is in fluid dynamics or materials, you have a shot, if not long shot. That is not to say that it can't be done, I work in an area of aerospace where the physics degree is helpful, but there is very little academic training out there, you just have to fall into it.
 
  • #4
Dr Transport said:
If your masters is in fluid dynamics or materials, you have a shot, if not long shot. That is not to say that it can't be done, I work in an area of aerospace where the physics degree is helpful, but there is very little academic training out there, you just have to fall into it.

Thanks for the responses. I was a Mechanical Engineering student for a few years in undergrad, so I do have some experience in some of the basic courses. Un fortunately, my MS in Physics was more concentrated on the astrophysics side, so I don't have much experience with fluid dynamics (or FEA, which I assume would be immensely helpful).

Dr Transport, can I ask what path led you to where you are now? I am looking for any path that will start me down the road towards the aerospace industry.
 
  • #5
I also ended up in the Aero industry. pure math PhD => industrial engineering / operations research Masters => economic analysis at an airframe manufacturer => ... => flight controls => retired
 
  • #6
I mainly want to do something that is more hand-on, either in design, construction, or testing. Are there Masters programs that I might give me the experience I would need and open some doors into the industry? Would that be a route worth exploring?
 
  • #7
Reingley said:
Thanks for the responses. I was a Mechanical Engineering student for a few years in undergrad, so I do have some experience in some of the basic courses. Un fortunately, my MS in Physics was more concentrated on the astrophysics side, so I don't have much experience with fluid dynamics (or FEA, which I assume would be immensely helpful).

Dr Transport, can I ask what path led you to where you are now? I am looking for any path that will start me down the road towards the aerospace industry.
Just apply. When you get in you'll get opportunities to go do other things. I worked on a couple of design programs where i got to work with CFD'ers, strength, weights, lofters, EMI/EMC, materials etc...I've done everything from design to test and analysis, build/manufacture, it is all good if you go in with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
 
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  • #8
Reingley said:
I currently have a MS in Physics and a MAT (masters in teaching - physics) and have worked the past two years as a high school physics teacher. However, I am feeling more inclined to move towards a career in engineering, particularly in the aerospace industry (rocket testing and design in particular).

If possible, I would like to move directly into the field. This is not because I am uninterested in furthering my education, but am more concerned with how ~6 years in a PhD program would align with my other life goals. I am not ruling it out, though.

What do the prospects look like in this field for somebody who has a MS in Physics? Is a PhD program in Aerospace Engineering necessary?
Why not consider a lower, faster degree than a phd?
 
  • #9
russ_watters said:
Why not consider a lower, faster degree than a phd?

That certainly is an option. However, I do not know how competitive the areas I am looking into are and what qualifications are necessary to be a competitive applicant. My assumption is that a PhD in a related field is essentially required, but I am looking for input from people with experience in this field as to what my best next steps might be.
 
  • #10
Could you actually get a PHD in engineering without getting a BS_E first? That is not a path that I have seen taken, is it possible?

What is your bachelors in?

The engineering world is not like acedamia. Aside from getting you through HR or whatever company policy is set up, credentials don't matter to anybody here. The focus shifts towards results.

That being said, some engineering departments are not even allowed to hire you without an ABET accredited engineering degree.
Your best bet, outside of getting a bachelors in engineering, is to get some industry experience. Go work as an engineer for whoever will hire you as an engineer. Then, you can use that experience to convince somebody in the aerospace industry to put their money on you instead of your (stiff) competition as a candidate.
 
  • #11
RogueOne said:
Could you actually get a PHD in engineering without getting a BS_E first? That is not a path that I have seen taken, is it possible?

What is your bachelors in?

The engineering world is not like acedamia. Aside from getting you through HR or whatever company policy is set up, credentials don't matter to anybody here. The focus shifts towards results.

That being said, some engineering departments are not even allowed to hire you without an ABET accredited engineering degree.
Your best bet, outside of getting a bachelors in engineering, is to get some industry experience. Go work as an engineer for whoever will hire you as an engineer. Then, you can use that experience to convince somebody in the aerospace industry to put their money on you instead of your (stiff) competition as a candidate.

I have no idea what my prospects are regarding getting into an engineering program. My bachelors is in physics as well, although my first two years were as a mechanical engineering major. Guess I shouldn't have switched...

I've been looking into some engineering jobs, and a bunch of them list a degree in physics as a possible prerequisite, so that is promising. I'll continue the search. I currently live in the Boston area if anyone has had any experience with places around there.
 
  • #12
Reingley said:
I have no idea what my prospects are regarding getting into an engineering program. My bachelors is in physics as well, although my first two years were as a mechanical engineering major. Guess I shouldn't have switched...

I've been looking into some engineering jobs, and a bunch of them list a degree in physics as a possible prerequisite, so that is promising. I'll continue the search. I currently live in the Boston area if anyone has had any experience with places around there.

It probably would not be too difficult for you to do a few undergrad courses and add a BSME to your arsenal. For the goal of progressing into an engineering career, you have a few options. The option that will progress that goal the most per unit of work or time that you put into it will be an engineering degree.

To me, you already have a masters, and its in physics. That will be a respected decoration in engineering. Far more so than an engineer who went back for an MBA (no offense, sellouts :biggrin: ). I'd look into getting any sort of exprience/education that you can get your hands on right now. Anything that you can use to demonstrate to a company that you would be profitable for them to hire into their engineering department. Some sort of competitive advantage that can be drawn from your physics, and some concrete demonstration that you are blossoming into an engineer is all they will need.
 

Related to Masters in Physics enough for Aerospace Engineering?

1. Is a Masters in Physics sufficient for a career in Aerospace Engineering?

While a Masters in Physics can provide a strong foundation for a career in Aerospace Engineering, it may not be enough on its own. Aerospace Engineering requires knowledge and skills in various areas such as mechanics, thermodynamics, and materials science, which may not be covered in depth in a physics program. It is recommended to also pursue additional coursework or experience in Aerospace Engineering to complement a Masters in Physics degree.

2. Can a Masters in Physics be specialized for Aerospace Engineering?

Yes, some universities offer specialized Masters programs in Physics with a focus on Aerospace Engineering. These programs may include courses in spacecraft dynamics, aerodynamics, and propulsion, among others. It is important to research and choose a program that aligns with your career goals and interests.

3. Do I need a PhD to work in the Aerospace Engineering field?

No, a PhD is not required for most entry-level positions in Aerospace Engineering. A Masters in Physics or Aerospace Engineering, along with relevant experience and skills, can qualify you for a variety of roles in the field. However, a PhD may be necessary for more advanced research or teaching positions.

4. Are there any benefits to pursuing a Masters in Physics before Aerospace Engineering?

Yes, a Masters in Physics can provide a strong theoretical background in physics principles, which are essential for understanding complex aerospace systems. It can also help develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are highly valued in the aerospace industry.

5. Can a Masters in Physics lead to a career in other industries besides Aerospace Engineering?

Yes, a Masters in Physics can open up opportunities in a variety of industries such as renewable energy, telecommunications, and data science. The skills and knowledge gained in a physics program, such as mathematical modeling and data analysis, are highly transferable and in-demand in many fields.

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