I got my B.S. in mathematics from a no-name university, thought that engineering would whet my appetite for physics, took a few chemical engineering and materials science courses, and am now in the non-thesis no-research M.S. materials science program at the University of Florida. I have no research experience. This is a problem. I am going to start a career in physics by first obtaining a master's degree. However, I was just told today that PhD programs would look at an earned M.S. in physics and wonder "Why didn't he get his PhD?" (Because most people get PhD's in physics, not M.S.'s, but then again, most people have SOME qualification in physics, whereas I am presently taking my first physics course at the graduate level since 2003). Anyway, blah-de-de-blah-blah. Bottom line is the following two questions: 1) How the heck do I get research experience right now? (Most research experience short of being in a formal degree program is reserved for undergraduates!) 2) Should I get my M.S. in physics or not? (Does it really look bad on a PhD application??) I am pretty confused about what the heck I should do. (Ultimately, I want to go to a tippity-top school for theoretical condensed matter physics, like University of Illinois-Champaign). SIDE QUESTION: Also, does anyone know how the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, ranks for condensed matter physics, in comparison to other schools?