Hi all, I am finishing an M.S. in physics in 2011, and hope to be a theoretical physicist (in which field, I do not know...but mathematical physics is looking kind of neat...at fleeting glance). I have also not done much research, not published, and had a questionable Spring 2010 part of my transcript. I never got my B.S. in physics. I only have my B.S. in math, chemistry, and engineering science, from 2006, and an M.S. in materials science and engineering. All of these turned out to not be Totally Helpful to an aspiring physicist (though: I sure learned how to plug n' chug like a pro).(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

In order to buy time to 1) publish 2) study physics some more 3) make myself "indispensible", and able to serve the physics community (instead of just "sucking up" education like a sponge) by the time I apply to PhD programs in physics (e.g., I don't want to be in a "sponge-state", still, while applying to PhD programs!): I am considering studying mathematics at the same university I will get my physics M.S. in, as of 2011. My reasons:

1) I have a good relationship with my highly-intelligent advisor (he had a 1980 tenure at the Institute for Advanced Study...lucky to be working with him). I've learned a ton from him, and feel like I have much more to learn.

2) I know far less mathematics than I thought I did. I got through my math B.S. by plugging and chugging instead of appreciating the grand concepts. I want to re-visit math, and be trained to think mathematically.

3) I will have 2 additional years to publish stuff. I needed a year of physics courses (e.g., QM and E + M) to just be able to understand how to think like a physicist, and that took away 1 year's time in which I could have been doing research. I'm working furiously to catch up. I mean, I just found out from my advisor that 3a) using the Feynman rules for QED verses 3b) understanding the so-called "field theory" from where the Feynman rules come from (e.g., applied vs. theory/first principles) seem to be entirely-different beasts, and I then wondered if a new ocean's vast waters were lapping at my feet.

4) It's possible a math-M.S. will give me a bit of indispensibility that will make me stand out amidst other physicists. It could equip me to see mathematical structures behind a lot of physics-fields. I'm already enamoured with how all seem to be linear combinations in quantum mechanics. I am now curious about the mathematical structure of E + M ... where everything seems to be 1/r, symmetric/antisymmetric (just throwing out terms that seem pertinent...this is no expert's opinion).

5) I might delay my taking of the Physics GRE until I am more ready. I haven't even had a formal undergraduate Classical Mechanics class (but had a graduate course with this brilliant but stuck-in-his-non-Goldstein-ways mathematical physicist...in which I reaped a less-than-savoury B-).

But: reasons against:

1) It's possible that a physics department could call into question my commitment to physics when they see an M.S. in engineering, an M.S. in physics, and an M.S. in math. I am hoping that fear will be assuaged by my (second) M.S. in physics.

2) ??? stuff unseen?

I don't really consider time to be a factor. I'm single, don't see my family often, and don't mind spending as much time as a student as need be in order to at least have a fighting chance at being a theoretical physicist (a highly-competitive field).

Just let me know what I am not seeing, or failing to anticipate...

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# MS in Math to be competitive?

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