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Thinking about a second bachelor's or master's, which route should I take?

  1. Oct 22, 2014 #1
    Hi all, I'm new around here but I've checked out the site several times, thought it might be a good place to get some feedback. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a BS Chem in 2013, and have spent the last year working in sales. I'm now situated in Lubbock, TX (where Texas Tech is located) and have been considering going back to school, but I'm not sure which direction I should go.

    I've always had a knack for math; my best grades in school were without question in Calculus and I've always felt very satisfied when rolling through homework and getting the answers correct. I have an interest in Physics but I don't have a very strong education in it. I never took Physics in high school (did AP Bio II and AP Chem II instead) and I didn't have the greatest professor for Phys I and II at UGA. With tutoring I was able to net Bs in those classes, but I always felt like I was struggling to grasp some important concepts. I would spend an hour and a half working through a problem, getting the wrong answer, checking my work, starting over, etc. The math would end up being fine, but I would have missed a force being applied, or applied it in the wrong direction, or something to that effect that would throw my end results off.

    To further profile myself I'm also interested in aerospace engineering and anything that allows me to build/work with my hands, as well as computer sciences (I built my first computer when I was in 7th grade and have always enjoyed putting things together). Getting to the point, I'm wondering if I should go for a second bachelor's in physics or engineering, or should I just go all in and shoot for a mechanical engineering or physics MS? I imagine there will be considerable carry over as far as basic classes required for the second bachelors, so the amount of time needed to get a second BS would be shorter, but I don't want to waste the money "broadening my horizons", I want to be doing something that will be useful going forward. I worry that trying to get a masters might be too difficult given my lack of a real physics background, although I'm optimistic that with a good professor and a strong learning environment I will be able to overcome my shortcomings. Any and all input is welcome and appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2014 #2
    Thanks for the post! Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post?
  4. Oct 27, 2014 #3


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    You're probably better off with an MS than a second BS. It may not take any longer or cost any more. I'd go for that. The key is you need to be able to tell a "story" to the admissions committee about why they should admit you. It might be easier to relate your experience to CS than areospace engineering. Good luck!
  5. Aug 29, 2016 #4
    Many Master's programs will look at your transcript and tell you what you may need to take as far as remedial coursework for their program. You may have to work a little harder at times than someone with an undergraduate degree in physics. But that's OK. It will be worth it. A master's degree is far more marketable to prospective employers than another bachelor's degree. I was surprised to learn that Leonard Susskind, that legendary string theorist in Stanford, had an undergraduate degree in engineering before deciding he wanted to pursue physics in graduate school. Lots of people do that. It's doable.
  6. Aug 29, 2016 #5


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    There's a HUGE gap to get from struggling to get Bs in a first year physics class that you took probably 6 years ago to a master's degree in physics. If you really want to go that way, that's okay. I'm sure that there's a lot of overlap with some of your courses. But it will take some remedial work. I don't think it's a reasonable plan to jump into something like that.

    The next thing to consider what you mean by "doing something useful." Pursuing a master's degree in physics will educate you in physics, but it's probably not going to qualify you for much in the commercial world unless you go into one of the more professional branches such as medical physics or geophysics. So even if you do get through, you'll still have to figure out how that is going to translate into a vocation.

    There's a similar concern about engineering. I would imagine that jumping from a BSc in chemistry to a master's degree in chemical engineering is reasonable, but probably less so the further away you move - such as into computer science or engineering. If your primary concern at this point it to build up professionably marketable skills, I would look for a program that's going to give you those.
  7. Aug 29, 2016 #6
    Just move to a MSc and then a PhD. Just do what is needed to adjust to your interests along the way. There are always interdisciplinary areas of research.

    Double degree only makes a lot of sense if you need it to get professional certification to do your job. Like a lawyer or a doctor. Or if you have one in a technical field and one in a management/economy field.
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