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Courses MS Courses in the U.S for British Students - Good Universities

  1. Mar 9, 2009 #1
    Hi all,

    I'm currently enrolled on a four year MSc course at Durham University in the U.K. Instead of completing this course in its entirety I am hoping to be able to move to the States (after completing my BSc) for a year or two and complete either an MSc or (as I think it'll have to be) an MS. However, I'm not too keen on the idea of committing to a PhD at any given institution at the moment. Given that I have absolutely no experience of the American education system I've no idea of where would really suit me.

    I'm particularly interested in theoretical physics, quantum physics, condensed matter physics and possibly particle physics (not studied thoroughly yet but I've enjoyed what we've covered). I got a 2:1 last year and am on track to get a high 2:1/first this year (my second). I've got a good set of extra-curriculars and should be able to find a decent reference or two. Basically I have no idea how the American education system compares to the British system and so don't know exactly where I should be looking.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks very much!
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2009 #2
    I'm from the UK too, so may not be the best person to answer this, but I have been looking for a PhD in the US, and I get the feeling the US unis are not so big on Physics Masters, it seems US students just do their four year Bachelors (which is about equivalent to a 3 year UK Bsc, due to the fact that it's not all straight Physics, i.e. they have a minor and what not and other compulsory non physics classes), then go straight onto the 5-6 year PhD afterwards (where the first 2 years have a large taught element, to make up for the lack of Master's I guess, and get them upto speed for research).

    I am sure US Physics Masters will be offered someplace (not quite sure how eligible you will be for funding for a master's degree as an international), but I would guess you would be better off with the Imperial Theoretical Physics MSc/Part III at cambridge if you like theoretical stuff. What's wrong with the Durham master's? or are you just looking for the experience of moving to the US?

    Also you will probably have to take the General GRE and Physics GRE exams before applying for a US masters, if you do find a good one you can get funding for.
  4. Mar 12, 2009 #3
    Thanks very much for getting back to me. I'm perfectly happy with Durham as an institution and am sure that Cambridge and London would be great but as you said, it's more the experience of moving to the U.S and partaking in their education system that I'm interested in. I've drawn up a (not so) brief list of Uni's that would allow me to apply for a stand-alone masters course (although I can't be certain as some have very vague websites). Would anyone be able to advise me on the quality/reputation/suitability of the following places:
    Uni of Pennsylvania
    Uni of Colombia
    Northwestern Uni
    Rice Uni
    Vanderbilt Uni
    Carnegie Mellon
    Uni of Hawaii
    Uni of Virginia
    Uni of Southern California
    Tufts Uni
    Wake Forest Uni
    North Carolina Uni
    Georgia Tech
    Syracuse Uni
    Uni of Wisconsin
    San Diego State Uni
    San Jose State Uni
    Uni of Texas
    Uni of Maryland
    Uni of Rutgers

    Sorry for the big list! Also, am I right in thinking that I'd likely be offered a teaching assistantship? Especially so since I already have experience of tutoring?

  5. Mar 12, 2009 #4


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    Be aware that going to America just to do a masters (I think) will cost you a lot more money than finishing it up in the UK
  6. Mar 12, 2009 #5
    As Office_Shredder said, funding might be a big issue for you, getting funding for a PhD over there is pretty much guaranteed after acceptance, and normally works out that you get TA'ship for the first 2 years (at like 20hrs a week of teaching, which is quite scary in itself), then RA'ship for the final three that you're actually doing research. However for MSc, I'm not sure they would offer a non domestic student this support (although I could be wrong as I've not looked into doing a Masters over there in depth myself, it's just that Msc funding is notoriously more difficult than PhD funding as a rule of thumb, especially for international students, in most countries).

    If you just want to live in America for a while and see their education system( perhaps before committing to a long 5 year PhD there, and without the hassle of funding an MS somehow) you might be better off with a summer REU? This would give you a few months of US college experience, whilst also giving you research experience, which will come in handy so much when applying for "gradschool" if you do decide you want to do a PhD there (or even if you want to do do PhD in the UK it will look really good). This is something US graduate admission committees really love, and will probably greatly improve the place you get into if you decide you liked the US enough for gradschool.

    Also my advice would be take the GRE's as early as you can, I'd say after year 3 of UK degree, you are in the ideal spot, I did mine after my UK masters, and found I was rusty on a lot of the basics (the GRE is basically all about mechanics, thermodyn, e/m etc). Also you get chance to repeat(the test is only offered twice a year in either Leeds or London).

    Websites I found useful:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
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