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MS Medical Physics: Thesis or Non-thesis Option

  1. Oct 10, 2012 #1
    Hi All,

    I am currently in a CAMPEP-accredited medical physics program. I have the option to do a thesis masters or a non-thesis masters (additional coursework). When it comes down to it, will it make a big difference in my hireabilty whether I choose to do a thesis or non-thesis masters from the same university? I do have an MS degree in biophysics (hence the username) which did involve research, so I DO have some graduate level research experience.

    I am not particularly fond of research and hope to spend most of my time doing clinical work, so it seems like it wouldn't be a huge advantage to do a thesis masters.

    Also, I may consider applying to a PhD program after I garner a bit of work experience.

    Thanks in advance for the help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2012 #2
    Would it be a clinically meaningful thesis? What is the extent of your current clinical medical physics experience? Do you intend to pursue a residency position following graduation? Given the choice between additional didactic coursework and a clinically oriented research project, I would be more inclined to pursue the research.

    Assuming that you are forgoing the residency for a junior physicist job (which I might reconsider if your clinical experience is limited): employers want to know that you have an appropriate degree, and having one from a CAMPEP program tells them that you've completed a reasonably thorough sequence of courses. Having a few courses beyond that might not be much of an additional selling point, but being able to intelligently discuss something clinically practical that you investigated and gained experience in could make you a stronger candidate.

    If you are looking for residency positions then I think the thesis option would definitely make you a stronger candidate.

    However, should you choose to not pursue the thesis option, I don't think it will be a deal breaker for employers in community hospital environments or free standing clinics or consulting groups. It might make you less interesting to potential employers in academic environments, though.
  4. Oct 11, 2012 #3
    EricVT, thanks for the reply!

    The thesis project would not be very clinically meaningful (Monte Carlo simulation of proton beam). I currently don't have any clinical experience however I will receive clinical training during the summer semester through our school's clinical rotation. I'll spend two full days a week learning with a physicist. I'll also spend two days a week in a lab class where I will be learning various therapy and imaging tasks.

    I plan to apply to both residencies as well as junior physicist jobs. I'd probably take a residency if I was offered one, but would be happy with a junior physicist job too.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  5. Oct 14, 2012 #4


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    Since you've already done a thesis-based master's degree in a closely related field, doing another one is unlikely to bring much more to the table.

    That said, many MSc-level medical physics graduates are finding that the job market is extremely competative right now and many are opting to continue on to the PhD to be more competative for a residency. It will likely be easier to get into a PhD program if you do the thesis-based option.

    Another advantage of a thesis-based option is that it will likely lead to a medical physics related publication, which will add "value" to your CV - even for clinically-oriented positions.
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