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Programs MSc before PHD

  1. Apr 4, 2010 #1
    Is there any advantage in getting a masters of science (say for theoretical physics) before getting your PHD? I was thinking it might be easier to be admitted to a better PHD program if you obtain a masters degree at a different school first, as oppose to just applying to a PHD program right out of college. Is there any truth in this? Also, is it possible to get paying positions (TA, research assistant, etc.) while enrolled in a masters program? Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2010 #2
    Maybe if you go to the UK, they don't really care about it in the U.S.
  4. Apr 5, 2010 #3


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    The advantage of the MSc is that it isn't as big of a time and effort committment. Thus, if you get half way through your project and realize you hate it, it's a lot easier to gut your way through it than with the PhD. It can also cut time off of your PhD if you end up extending the project.

    In Canada, you generally get funding for both MSc and PhD programs. I'm not sure it's the same in the US.
  5. Apr 5, 2010 #4
    If you're in the US you mine as well get your MS since you really don't have to put any effort into getting it. If your going for a PhD, you're basically meeting all the requirements to get a MS anyway so why not just get it? If you go the thesis route, then you will have some practice on how to write a thesis and will make your PhD dissertation a lot easier.
  6. Apr 7, 2010 #5
    My reasoning for getting a MSc is the following: I will most likely have a mediocre GPA (3.3 - 3.5) by the time I get my BS in Math and Physics. I anticipate a good physics GRE score, but I only have EXPERIMENTAL research at this point, and I want to study theoretical. Given the highly competitive PHD positions in theoretical physics, I was thinking it would strengthen my resume if I got my MSc first in theoretical physics, and then apply to PHD programs after.

    Is this line of reasoning sound?

    I should also note that a professor at my university informed me that this is not a very common thing to do, and I might be looked at as an "odd duck" when I eventually apply to a PHD program, thereby hurting my chances of getting in.

    Let me know what you think. Thanks!
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