1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Terminal masters degree?

  1. Oct 23, 2007 #1
    most universities in US offer a terminal masters degree.
    does enrolling for this degree mean, the candidate cant further pursue any other degree in the future?
    like suppose if he/she changes his mind after the terminal degree, if he wants to do research is he barred from starting with a research masters (MS) too?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    terminal masters degree - like vulcanology with enhanced fieldwork?

    I wouldn't have thought so - although my PhD doesn't allow me to go back and do a lesser degree from the same institute.
  4. Oct 23, 2007 #3
    i meant terminal degree like MEngg in EE etc.
  5. Oct 23, 2007 #4
    in anything :surprised?
  6. Oct 23, 2007 #5
    a 'terminal masters degree' simply means that no other higher level degree is available for the program. An example of a terminal masters degree is the MBA (Master of Business Administration).

    It has nothing to do with whether or not you can pursue further degrees or studies.
  7. Oct 23, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes - it's a bit odd. You can do a lower degree you just can't graduate!
    I assume they would bend the rules for nice profitable MBAs.
  8. Oct 24, 2007 #7
    There's a joke about an MBA not being a real degree in there somewhere...
  9. Oct 26, 2007 #8
    Ahaha, thanks for that! :)
  10. Oct 26, 2007 #9
    No. For instance, UW and UCLA considers themselves to have a terminal masters degree in math. What it means is that you are not automatically considered as a Ph.D. student. Sometimes universities only have Ph.D. programs and no terminal mastrs degree that means you cannot apply to get a masters at the school only but have to apply to their Ph.D. program. From what I can tell masters degrees can improve your chances of being admitted to more difficult schools. But, you see a lot of people who never do this. I guess ideally if the school you are interested in as a five year ph.d. program you want to do that without a masters from another school. But, I have often wondered whether or not a masters degree can get one into Harvard or something.
  11. Oct 26, 2007 #10
    Sometimes a PhD program lets you pick up a Masters en passant, "terminal" just means you graduate and (can) leave. A Bachelors degree is (always?) terminal; if you want to study further at the same institution you have to continue in another program or as a post-bacc student.
  12. Oct 26, 2007 #11
    I've heard that some fields prefer to hire Masters graduates rather than Ph.D. graduates because Ph.D. graduates are too specialized and demand higher wages/positions. I was wondering, if I want to consider teaching as an option, whether it would be possible to take a Ph.D. and then do a Master's (in education or in a physics-related field).
  13. Oct 26, 2007 #12
    actually, when i was looking through a university website(one such is cornell's applied physics dept, i dont rememeber others now), there were 2 types of masters- one the research masters M.S and the other terminal masters M.Engg. if someone wants to do a PhD in someother university, which one of the masters degree will give them better chances?
    also, the terminal degree is self-funded while the other masters might be funded on a competitive basis.
  14. Oct 26, 2007 #13
    You mean start at a Ph.D. program and drop out after you get your Master's?

    I've considered it and asked my professor about it. He was baffled, because he didn't understand why I was trying to decide a priori. It's the same process to get accepted, and the same plan for like 2 years. Then after some experience, you can decide if you want to quit or not.
  15. Oct 26, 2007 #14
    The one with a thesis. If they both have require thesis, then I don't see a difference (it only depends on what kind of Ph.D. you want to get I guess)

    The reason to do a thesis is because you have to defend it. So, someone can write a recommendation on how you present advanced physics knowledge as opposed to a typical letter like this student took my class, worked hard, is bright, and got an A.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook