PhD Application in Physics: Age, Immigration, 2 PhDs

In summary: However, the pay and working conditions are often much worse at a private than at a public school. Community college may be a better option for you because the workload is often lower and the pay is usually better. Plus, you may be able to transfer to a 4-year university if you don't like the community college.
  • #1
Fernando Rios
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I will start an M.S. in Physics this fall at SJSU. If I apply to a PhD program in Physics once I am done with the M.S., will they consider the fact that I already have a PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, my age (38 years old now) and my immigration status (international student) for admission purposes?
 
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  • #2
As pointed out in previous threads of yours, it is impossible to predict what an unknown committee at an undetermined school will do.

As pointed out in previous threads of yours, many universities do not offer second PhDs. Also, as pointed out in previous threads of yours, a history that looks like one of a perpetual student is unlikely to be viewed positively.

Also as pointed out in previous threads of yours, most universities consider geographic balance and even more conside English proficiency. There is a near-infinite source of students from China and a lesser degree India and this is considered in the process.
 
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  • #3
Thread closed temporarily for Moderation...
 
  • #4
After reviewing the OP's previous threads asking similar questions, this thread is different enough (asking about PhD applications) that we'll allow it as a separate thread for now. Thanks for your patience.
 
  • #5
@Fernando Rios . In one of your other threads, I asked you key questions, which I don't recall you ever answered. What is your ultimate career goal? And why isn't your existing PhD sufficient? You really should face those questions now. Otherwise, in 6+ years, assuming you do complete a PhD in Physics, you'll be back with, "I have two PhD's, one in Nano and one in Physics. I now want to apply for a PhD program in X. What are my chances? How will my existing PhD's affect my application?"
 
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  • #6
CrysPhys said:
@Fernando Rios . In one of your other threads, I asked you key questions, which I don't recall you ever answered. What is your ultimate career goal? And why isn't your existing PhD sufficient? You really should face those questions now. Otherwise, in 6+ years, assuming you do complete a PhD in Physics, you'll be back with, "I have two PhD's, one in Nano and one in Physics. I now want to apply for a PhD program in X. What are my chances? How will my existing PhD's affect my application?"
My ultimate career goal is to teach Physics at a US community college. For this reason, or at least I think this, my PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotecnology from another country isn't enough.
 
  • #7
Fernando Rios said:
My ultimate career goal is to teach Physics at a US community college. For this reason, or at least I think this, my PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotecnology from another country isn't enough.
It's probably more than enough. Most CC's that I know of require a Master's or higher in field X "or a closely related field." I think you could easily make the case that nanoscience is closely related to physics. Two PhD's may raise questions about whether you're overqualified and will jump ship as soon as something better comes along.
 
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  • #8
Also, I think most community colleges offer only introductory physics courses. For example, the CC closest to me, in a small South Carolina city, offers only a three-semester calculus based sequence (Halliday/Resnick level) and a two-semester algebra/trig based sequence. There may also be electronics courses in other departments, as part of vocational degrees.
 
  • #9
TeethWhitener said:
It's probably more than enough. Most CC's that I know of require a Master's or higher in field X "or a closely related field." I think you could easily make the case that nanoscience is closely related to physics. Two PhD's may raise questions about whether you're overqualified and will jump ship as soon as something better comes along.
But I don't know if my PhD is valid in the US. How can I know if it is enough?
 
  • #12
Fernando Rios said:
How can I know if it is enough?
Ask the Human Resources department at the CC where you would like to teach.
 
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  • #13
Why community college and not high school?
 
  • #14
Frabjous said:
Why community college and not high school?
Have you been in a high school classroom recently? If it's a public high school in the US, the environment often is quite hostile (hostile and disrespectful students). In private high schools, it is much better, but only because the parents are paying a lot of extra money to have their kids in a better learning environment with mostly respectful kids.
 
  • #15
berkeman said:
Have you been in a high school classroom recently? If it's a public high school in the US, the environment often is quite hostile (hostile and disrespectful students). In private high schools, it is much better, but only because the parents are paying a lot of extra money to have their kids in a better learning environment with mostly respectful kids.
Are you speaking from experience?
 
  • #16
Frabjous said:
Are you speaking from experience?
Yes, but limited experience with the public high school part, admittedly.

We sent our two kids to private grammar/middle/high schools to try to give them a better chance to get their early education in a more stable environment. For various reasons, my son had to do his last 3 years of high school at a public high school, and at the teacher's request I sat in on my son's math class one day. I was incredulous that the students were so disrespectful of the teacher and the other students. They were ignoring the teacher and the lesson, texting on their phones, talking with each other, and generally not paying attention. I'm sure that the students in that class that really wanted to learn were frustrated by the situation.

Back in my day in high school (the 70's), if you acted like that you got sent to the principal's office and suspended/expelled if it kept up. Today it seems like that doesn't happen except in extreme cases. Lordy.

I have much more experience with the private school system (in my case it was Catholic schools, even though I myself am not religious). I have always been intimately involved in the schools, mostly due to my medical training and emergency response training (Safety Committees and such). The environment is totally different from the public schools, in my experience.
 
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  • #17
gmax137 said:
Ask the Human Resources department at the CC where you would like to teach.
I have seen job offers to teach Physics at community college and they clearly state that the minimum requirements are an M.S. in Physics or a B.S. in Physics with and M.S. in a related field, everything from an acreditted institution.
 
  • #18
Fernando Rios said:
I have seen job offers to teach Physics at community college and they clearly state that the minimum requirements are an M.S. in Physics or a B.S. in Physics with and M.S. in a related field, everything from an acreditted institution.
So what’s the problem? You’ll have an MS in physics from an accredited university. FWIW, the few I looked through only said MS in physics or closely related field.
 
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  • #19
TeethWhitener said:
So what’s the problem? You’ll have an MS in physics from an accredited university. FWIW, the few I looked through only said MS in physics or closely related field.
The problem is that some people here told me in another thread that it is very competitive to get full-time positions at community college and that it is rarely given to someone with only and M.S. degree. For this reason, I was thinking about the PhD in Physics after the M.S. in Physics.
 
  • #20
Fernando Rios said:
But I don't know if my PhD is valid in the US. How can I know if it is enough?
How a PhD from a university outside the US is viewed might vary from CC to CC. Nobody here on PF can answer the question generically, or without exceptions.
 
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  • #21
As I think I mentioned upthread, the vast majority of CC positions around these parts (and other cities where I have lived) are part-time instructor positions, often filled by local high school teachers looking to make a little extra money.

These positions do not pay enough to live on, and hours are usually capped so that the college does not have to pay for benefits.

I know the nearest college has one actual faculty member in physics (well, two, as he's retiring and this is an overlap year with his replacement), the chair, whose job it is to schedule all the part-timers.

There are something like 1000 community colleges in the US. Assuming a 5% turnover, that's 50 positions per year. Assuming of course, no geographic restrictions. Fifth positions, fifty states. You can see how this is working out.

If this is the OP's goal, he should spend some serious time researching the positions out there, and who was hired, and what their backgrounds are. I have no first-hand knowledge, but suspect someone who has spent most of his adult life in school collecting degrees is not it. It is also unclear to me whether an EdD would be more or less valuable than a US-based PhD.

As an aside, just to compare 259 football players each year are drafted by the NFL.
 
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  • #22
Vanadium 50 said:
As I think I mentioned upthread, the vast majority of CC positions around these parts (and other cities where I have lived) are part-time instructor positions, often filled by local high school teachers looking to make a little extra money.

These positions do not pay enough to live on, and hours are usually capped so that the college does not have to pay for benefits.

I know the nearest college has one actual faculty member in physics (well, two, as he's retiring and this is an overlap year with his replacement), the chair, whose job it is to schedule all the part-timers.

There are something like 1000 community colleges in the US. Assuming a 5% turnover, that's 50 positions per year. Assuming of course, no geographic restrictions. Fifth positions, fifty states. You can see how this is working out.

If this is the OP's goal, he should spend some serious time researching the positions out there, and who was hired, and what their backgrounds are. I have no first-hand knowledge, but suspect someone who has spent most of his adult life in school collecting degrees is not it. It is also unclear to me whether an EdD would be more or less valuable than a US-based PhD.

As an aside, just to compare 259 football players each year are drafted by the NFL.
To be honest it doesn't sound that motivating. I already talked to the graduate advisor at SJSU and he replied "We’ve had graduates of our masters program go on to teach physics at community colleges, so a PhD isn’t necessary. I think you’d be better off testing the waters with a masters degree - I suspect you will have opportunities." Hopefully, I can still achieve my career goal.
 
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  • #23
Fernando Rios said:
My ultimate career goal is to teach Physics at a US community college. For this reason, or at least I think this, my PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotecnology from another country isn't enough.
So why did you complete a PhD in nano? Did you originally have a different career goal? Teaching physics at a US community college, I think, is usually not an express Plan A goal, but more of a Plan B fallback.
 
  • #24
Fernando Rios said:
To be honest it doesn't sound that motivating.
I don't think that's my job.

The average faculty salary at the nearet CC is $11,500/year. If this isn't motivating enough, what number should I tell you instead?
 
  • #25
CrysPhys said:
So why did you complete a PhD in nano? Did you originally have a different career goal? Teaching physics at a US community college, I think, is usually not an express Plan A goal, but more of a Plan B fallback.
Since I was in my last years of the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering I wanted to study Physics, but I didn't know I could change fields and do an M.S. in Physics. Also, due to circunstances out of my control I ended up in the PhD in Nanosience and Nanotechnology.
 
  • #26
Fernando Rios said:
The problem is that some people here told me in another thread that it is very competitive to get full-time positions at community college and that it is rarely given to someone with only and M.S. degree. For this reason, I was thinking about the PhD in Physics after the M.S. in Physics.
I don't know how true that is. The community colleges I've taught at want someone who's interested in teaching. That's their primary concern, not whether you have a Ph.D. or a master's. I'd listen to your advisor.

TeethWhitener said:
So what’s the problem? You’ll have an MS in physics from an accredited university. FWIW, the few I looked through only said MS in physics or closely related field.
In California, if you have a BS in physics and a master's in a related field or if you have a master's or doctoral degree in physics, you're automatically assumed to be qualified to teach physics at a community college. If you don't meet either of those requirements, you need to work with HR at the school you're applying to to show that your field of study or experience qualifies you to teach physics.
 
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  • #27
berkeman said:
At the teacher's request I sat in on my son's math class one day. I was incredulous that the students were so disrespectful of the teacher and the other students.
The situation may be different in a physics class. Everyone's supposed to take math in high school, but the students taking physics in high school are usually the ones who intend to go to college. They tend to be better behaved and more studious.

The main reason I'd avoid teaching high school is that you have to deal with the adults, especially parents who think their little angel can do no wrong or didn't deserve the grade he or she earned.
 
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  • #28
vela said:
The situation may be different in a physics class.
Even so, public high school teachers do not always get to pick and choose what subjects they are assigned.
 
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  • #29
vela said:
I don't know how true that is.
The OP started a number of threads with very similar subjects. The answer to one question may not exactly apply to another.

One question is "what credentials do I need to become an instructor at a CC?" (A common position, usually part-time) Another is "what credentials do I need to become a tenured or tenure-track full time professor at a CC?" (A substantially less common position)
 
  • #30
gmax137 said:
Even so, public high school teachers do not always get to pick and choose what subjects they are assigned.
Yet another reason to avoid teaching high school.

On the other hand, because a teacher with a physics background is relatively rare, I'd guess it's fairly unlikely to get stuck teaching a non-physics course.
 
  • #31
vela said:
The main reason I'd avoid teaching high school is that you have to deal with the adults, especially parents who think their little angel can do no wrong or didn't deserve the grade he or she earned.
Just tell them "It's not your son's/faughter's fault. It's probably genetics." :smile:
 
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  • #32
vela said:
.On the other hand, because a teacher with a physics background is relatively rare, I'd guess it's fairly unlikely to get stuck teaching a non-physics course.
How many high schools are big enough to offer enough physics courses to fill up a full-time teaching position?
 
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  • #33
jtbell said:
How many high schools are big enough to offer enough physics courses to fill up a full-time teaching position?
Oooo! A Fermi problem!

I'd estimate around 5000.
 
  • #34
Vanadium 50 said:
5000
5000 high schools? Or, a high school with 5000 students?

Google says there are 26,727 high schools in the US. EDIT: With the largest being Brooklyn Technical at 8076 students.
 
  • #35
5000 high schools. The 25% largest.
 

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