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Masters Required

  1. Jun 24, 2009 #1
    If I intend on getting my PhD and a school I would like to go to requires a masters to get into the doctoral program should I even bother applying? I fully intend on getting my PhD because I want to do research however I doubt I will be able to afford grad school on my own and it seems like master students dont get funding. So would my time be better spent finding other schools that dont require a masters or hope that I can get funding as a masters student? Or am I more likely to get funding as a masters since I plan on getting a PhD and the only reason I am doing masters is because they require it?
    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 24, 2009 #2

    eri

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    It's true, at least in my experience, that applying as a masters student alone is unlikely to get you funding. But what you could do is apply as a PhD student at a university that will let you earn your masters on the way to the PhD, and then apply to transfer to the university you're interested in after finishing the masters. You'll get funding all the way through that way. Many students leave after getting the masters even if they originally intended to do the PhD, so it won't seem abnormal, some students will transfer anyway even if they didn't mean to originally (I did), and the school hasn't lost any money because you've been teaching for them (or doing research for them). Of course, this is all assuming you're in the US where the lines between masters and PhD are often blurred and funding is plentiful.
     
  4. Jun 24, 2009 #3
    Sorry to derail, but is it legit to apply as a PhD, get funding, get your master's, and then drop out to work?
     
  5. Jun 24, 2009 #4

    eri

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    Sony - there's no law against it, and in my experience it's very common for people to leave a PhD program with a masters, whether they originally intended to do so or not. A few people have applied as masters students only to my university, and professors have told them to reapply as PhD so they could get funding. Your funding depends on you actually doing the job they gave you - teaching or research - so even when you drop out, they got their money's worth for the previous semesters.
     
  6. Jun 25, 2009 #5
    Just speaking from experience here, but I've never heard of a school that requires an MS in physics in order to be in the PhD program. In fact, at my school it's a disadvantage, since PhD students with BS degrees get two chances to pass the qualifier, whereas students with an MS get only one. My advisor once told me that an MS degree is seen as a "flunk out degree" (since people usually have one because they failed the qualifier somewhere). Don't know if that's a widely held opinion, but if it is, then this would suggest that having your MS can actually be a minor hindrance.

    Do you have a specific school in mind that requires an MS in physics in order to obtain a PhD?

    Personally I wouldn't recommend it. The people I know with just an MS in physics usually have a harder time finding a job. But hey, maybe I don't have enough data points.
     
  7. Jun 25, 2009 #6
    Thanks, guys. I was thinking of a MS in medical physics, which is apparently more employable than a MS in most other physics fields, I think. I don't think I've got the passion to go into research.
     
  8. Jun 25, 2009 #7
    If some desired Ph.D. program requires an MS (which I'll agree with other posters to this thread sounds strange), I'll agree that choosing a master's in another complementary field or specialization seems to be the way to go. It's true that generally people view the MS as a "flunk out" degree IF that MS is attained through an institution that offers a Ph.D. in the same field. But MS's in other fields (in my case I had an MS in optical engineering and an M.ED in classroom teaching) can be viewed as an asset to an application. In my opinion, medical physics would also fall into this type of category. The coursework and experience through a medical physics program would be different than that done through a traditional physics program. Of course the OP would want to check on how this institution views things and exactly what MS they are indicating as a prerequisite to application.

    Then, as you (the non-OP) state, the student would also have options with such a complementary field after the MS regarding your decision to continue on. I often wish I'd kept the engineering job I was working at before I left for my Ph.D. (darn ambition / ego). Looking at the job market, a degree like medical physics could offer more possibilities and stability, as well as even more financial gain (look into much grad students and post-docs are paid). In my case, I entered my Ph.D. program when the economy was great, and exited it as the economy was tanking, so that certainly had some effect on my financial opportunities... but I do tend to think that perhaps terminal master's programs in employable fields aren't often considered enough because of the traditional physics view of the MS as a flunkout degree... which is NOT the case for many complementary MS programs which have definite service to the workplace.
     
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