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Physics to Computer Science

  1. Mar 5, 2009 #1
    I am quickly approaching graduation this Spring with a bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics and a minor in Math (GPA-3.7, physics GPA-3.9). With the economy the way it is, I don't feel I have much of a chance to get a good job utilizing my degree right now, so I am considering grad school.

    A local university is hosting a graduate open house where they allow graduates to apply for grad school.

    They offer a Master of Science in Computer Science, and allow graduates with a non-computer science degree who are seeking entry. I am heavily considering this. For one thing I love computers and technology and I am interested in programming. Also, when I search for the top degrees in demand, Computer Science is on every single list. My number one goal is to make myself employable.

    They also offer a Master of Science in Mechatronic Systems Engineering, which sounds very cool, but I don't see many employers looking for a Mechatronics Engineer.

    But I think I would really like Computer Science. I would really like to know how well I could utilize my engineering physics degree with a computer science masters on top of it.

    What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2009 #2


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    How many of the computer jobs are asking for an MSc rather than just 'N' years experience on a particular language/package?

    When the job ad says CS degree or equivalent then a physics degree is usually equivalent. With the state of high schools today 'degree required' is just shorthand for must be able to read and write.
  4. Mar 5, 2009 #3
    A master's in CS couldn't hurt...

    On the other hand, are you sure you're adequately prepared to do graduate level work in CS? In other words, do you feel like you have an adequate knowledge of fundamental CS concepts? Just because the department is accepting non-major students doesn't mean they guarantee you will succeed.

    There are ways in which you can assess your readiness. Try the CS GRE subject test online. Read up on the course descriptions relevant to the CS major.

    As far as your question goes, though, if you get into CS there's no guarantee that you'll get a job involving anything you did in undergrad. Chances are good, but... anyway. Does this answer your question, or were you looking for something more?
  5. Mar 5, 2009 #4


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    Well it costs time / money. It does hurt (financially) if you never make enough more with an MSc to cover the fees/lost salary.
    Depending on the course it's not necessarily graduate level CS. It may be more like a one year intensive taught CS degree for non-CS majors.
  6. Mar 5, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the replies.

    mgb phys, are you implying that I could get a Computer Science job with an Engineering Physics degree?

    I am not immediately ready for graduate CS coursework, however, they make you take "pre-core" classes to prepare for graduate work. I am willing to do this of course, I'm pretty sure any subject I go into other than physics will require prep classes.

    I realize nothing is guaranteed, but it is good to know that chances are good that I could use physics in a job.

    How marketable would would I be with an BS in Engineering Physics and MS in CS?
  7. Mar 5, 2009 #6


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    Assuming you have some programming experience you may be more employable than a CS grad. Many CS degrees don't have a great reputation in industry. Too many places are 'Java schools' where people who want a guaranteed job just learn a single language on a single platform with no understanding of CS - most good employers realise these might not be the pick of the brightest and best.

    Again check who the MSc is aimed at - generally they are either a particular specialism in CS (AI or graphics) or a conversion course for numerate but none-CS students.
    So you need to look over the syllabus and talk to instructors. Is it no-CS required because it is a conversion course, OR is it that an experienced programmer with a physics degree will be able to keep up.

    I would say - very ;-)
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  8. Mar 5, 2009 #7

    My mom works with a guy who got his phd in physics and is now a senior computer programmer. While this is jsut one case, I think it shows that it is definately possible.
  9. Mar 5, 2009 #8


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    Sounds familiar :wink:
  10. Mar 10, 2009 #9
    I went straight into a CS job with a physics degree. Try applying for jobs and see what happens. If you don't get a job, do the MS.
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