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Should I or Should I not pursue a postgraduate degree in physics

  1. Aug 2, 2017 #1

    I am studying Physics and Electronic and Communications Engineering double major. I really enjoy studying physics, and find it fascinating to manipulate difficult formulas that describe natural phenomena. However, I am concerned that there are far more engineering jobs out there than physics research jobs.
    My intentions at the moment is to pursue the postgraduate degree in theoretical or applied physics (I am finishing my third year at university).

    However, I am concerned about the fact that I will not be able to find a well-paid job, as opposed to engineering.

    I would like to know whether there is a huge difference between engineering and physics postgraduate courses at universities, whether mathematical physics dominates astrophysics in terms of research and the number of job positions, and what universities you can suggest for electrical/electronic/power engineering and physics which provide financial support for international students, and requirements for entering these universities.

    Also, is it beneficial for engineers to go to postgraduate courses, or it is better to gain the industry (practical) experience?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2017 #2
    Let me address your last question. In my opinion, most engineers could benefit from an MS degree. It provides the opportunity to get the additional work that just did not quite fit within the confines of the packed undergraduate curriculum. A PhD is another matter altogether, and I would not advise this for most engineers. It is only for those with a strongly theoretical inclination, and industrial experience is usually more valuable.
  4. Aug 2, 2017 #3
    This question gets asked here once every week or two I think, lol. So first, a good bit of advice is to take a look at other posts and see how our veteran posters respond. It's usually good advice.
    I assume you would be considering pursuing a PhD in Physics. You'll still have plenty of six-figure jobs to choose from if you were to choose that route. Now, will they be the same kinds of jobs? Not always. Many PhD's end up working in engineering, but many more work in finance, software engineering, and data analysis making good salaries. Plus you get to call yourself Dr. such-and-such which is cool.

    That being said, you will spend 4-6 years of your life making ~25-35k a year as a TA/RA, so you'll potentially be losing out on money in the short term to, probably, make more money when you're finished.

    It's also worth noting that many people who start a PhD in astrophysics never finish due to how hard it is.

    GradSchoolShopper is basically the Physics and Astronomy grad school guide and it has a lot of the information you should consider before pursuing a PhD in Astrophysics.

    For engineering, I'm not sure of an equivalent, maybe someone else can add to this.

    Math is a pretty big deal in astrophysics if you're doing anything in cosmology or particle astrophysics, but being a researcher in astrophysics I can say that a lot of it is data analysis and programming. If you're good at GR but don't like programming, or vice versa, you won't like research in astrophysics.

    Both are fine and basically equal. It all depends on what your goals are. I suspect you haven't given much thought as to what you want to do when you're done with your degree, or how much time and money you need to live your life out. Remember some words a friend of mine said: "It's not the difference you make, but how you make the journey."

    So instead of asking which is better, ask yourself where you want to go and what you want to learn and experience. None of us can give you that answer.
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