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Two bachelor of science degrees, or a master’s degree?

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

As I’m doing more research and talking to my college advisor I learned that I don’t need a master’s degree to get into grad school and earn a doctorate, and that my field of study (Biomedical Physics) has various common classes with the Advanced Physics major.
Would it be worth more to take an extra year or two to take the remaining classes and earn an Advanced Physics BS then apply for graduate school, or is having a master’s degree in Biomedical Physics generally worth more?

I’m currently more deviated towards having two degrees after learning that a master’s isn’t required, it seems like a much more tempting and promising decesion to make, especially because I plan to take a Physics PhD and not a Biomedical Physics one. What do you think?
 

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  • #2
ZapperZ
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As I’m doing more research and talking to my college advisor I learned that I don’t need a master’s degree to get into grad school and earn a doctorate, and that my field of study (Biomedical Physics) has various common classes with the Advanced Physics major.
Would it be worth more to take an extra year or two to take the remaining classes and earn an Advanced Physics BS then apply for graduate school, or is having a master’s degree in Biomedical Physics generally worth more?

I’m currently more deviated towards having two degrees after learning that a master’s isn’t required, it seems like a much more tempting and promising decesion to make, especially because I plan to take a Physics PhD and not a Biomedical Physics one. What do you think?
I'm puzzled. You talked to your academic advisor, and ALL you got out of it is that you don't need a Masters degree to apply for a PhD program? Did you ask exactly what you asked here?

If you wish to earn a Ph.D in physics, then you should major in physics. I do not know what your curriculum in "biomedical physics" involves, but if it is lacking in the standard physics curriculum, then yes, you need to take those classes one way or another. If you wish to do a PhD in Medical Physics, then you still need a solid physics background.

But again, this is something that you should have talked with your advisor, who should know more about what you already took and what you may need IF you wish to do a PhD in physics.

Zz.
 
  • #3
berkeman
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my field of study (Biomedical Physics)
I plan to take a Physics PhD and not a Biomedical Physics one.
Then why are you studying Biomedical Physics?
 
  • #4
CrysPhys
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As I’m doing more research and talking to my college advisor I learned that I don’t need a master’s degree to get into grad school and earn a doctorate, and that my field of study (Biomedical Physics) has various common classes with the Advanced Physics major.
Would it be worth more to take an extra year or two to take the remaining classes and earn an Advanced Physics BS then apply for graduate school, or is having a master’s degree in Biomedical Physics generally worth more?

I’m currently more deviated towards having two degrees after learning that a master’s isn’t required, it seems like a much more tempting and promising decesion to make, especially because I plan to take a Physics PhD and not a Biomedical Physics one. What do you think?
What country are you in? I'm not familiar with an "Advanced Physics" major; how does that differ from a plain-vanilla Physics major? Also, if you are dead set on a PhD Physics program, why are you considering a BS and an MS in Biomedical Physics?
 
  • #5
Choppy
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I agree a lot can depend on the specifics of what country you're in, and the details of your program.

One flag that jumps out at me is that it seems your current major is different enough from a physics degree that your school will actually award a second degree if you pursue "advanced physics" after "biomedical physics." This could mean that the biomedical physics degree path you're on may not give you the strongest background for getting into a different stream of physics for graduate school. It also draws into question how much physics background you're getting if you want to pursue even the medical or biophysics paths. On the other hand make sure you look at the required and optional coursework carefully. Just because one "can" actually get two degrees doesn't necessarily mean they're all that different from each other and that this is a good idea.
 
  • #6
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I'm puzzled. You talked to your academic advisor, and ALL you got out of it is that you don't need a Masters degree to apply for a PhD program? Did you ask exactly what you asked here?

If you wish to earn a Ph.D in physics, then you should major in physics. I do not know what your curriculum in "biomedical physics" involves, but if it is lacking in the standard physics curriculum, then yes, you need to take those classes one way or another. If you wish to do a PhD in Medical Physics, then you still need a solid physics background.

But again, this is something that you should have talked with your advisor, who should know more about what you already took and what you may need IF you wish to do a PhD in physics.

Zz.
Oh it’s not like that. I have talked to my advisor about this, but I was just trying to see what other people would say so I would have a broader understanding of what is best.
It’s too soon for me to feel this anxious about which decision to make later, but it’s best to stay ahead of things. But thanks anyways
 
  • #7
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Then why are you studying Biomedical Physics?
What country are you in? I'm not familiar with an "Advanced Physics" major; how does that differ from a plain-vanilla Physics major? Also, if you are dead set on a PhD Physics program, why are you considering a BS and an MS in Biomedical Physics?
I agree a lot can depend on the specifics of what country you're in, and the details of your program.

One flag that jumps out at me is that it seems your current major is different enough from a physics degree that your school will actually award a second degree if you pursue "advanced physics" after "biomedical physics." This could mean that the biomedical physics degree path you're on may not give you the strongest background for getting into a different stream of physics for graduate school. It also draws into question how much physics background you're getting if you want to pursue even the medical or biophysics paths. On the other hand make sure you look at the required and optional coursework carefully. Just because one "can" actually get two degrees doesn't necessarily mean they're all that different from each other and that this is a good idea.
My advisor suggested that I take a biomedical major because of my early confusion of whether to get into grad school for physics or med school. This major as she said is the best physics based one to cover the necessary prereqs for med school, and a great fall back plan incase that doesn’t work in terms of having a great career or pursuing a physics PhD later on, but if I’m going to get a PhD I want it to be in “plain-vanilla” physics (which for some reason my school calls advanced). She highly suggested I go for two degrees after graduating instead of an MS, so that’s why I’m trying to find second opinions on this matter. It’s kind of a handful.

I’m in the US by the way.
 
  • #8
CrysPhys
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My advisor suggested that I take a biomedical major because of my early confusion of whether to get into grad school for physics or med school. This major as she said is the best physics based one to cover the necessary prereqs for med school, and a great fall back plan incase that doesn’t work in terms of having a great career or pursuing a physics PhD later on, but if I’m going to get a PhD I want it to be in “plain-vanilla” physics (which for some reason my school calls advanced). She highly suggested I go for two degrees after graduating instead of an MS, so that’s why I’m trying to find second opinions on this matter. It’s kind of a handful.

I’m in the US by the way.
Is this a correct summary of your scenario?

In your school,
(a) a BS in Biomedical Physics is adequate preparation for med school, but not for a PhD program in physics
(b) a BS in Advanced Physics is adequate preparation for a PhD program in physics, but not for med school

(c) your heart seems to be saying you really want to later pursue a PhD program in physics, but you want the fallback option of going to med school
(d) you have no intention whatsoever of pursuing a PhD program in Biomedical Physics.


If the above summary is correct, then the obvious choice would be to pursue a BS in Biomedical Physics and a BS in Advanced Physics rather than a BS in Biomedical Physics and a MS in Biomedical Physics.

Caveat: Will the MS in Biomedical Physics increase your odds of getting into med school and provide you adequate preparation for a PhD program in physics? If so, it's worth considering (assuming it takes the same amount of time to complete as two BS, and you want to defer your med school/grad school decision). If not (or if the BS/MS route takes longer than the two BS route), why bother?
 
  • #9
berkeman
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My advisor suggested that I take a biomedical major because of my early confusion of whether to get into grad school for physics or med school. This major as she said is the best physics based one to cover the necessary prereqs for med school, and a great fall back plan incase that doesn’t work
May I ask what has inspired you to want to go to medical school and become a doctor? Do you have experience in the medical field in some way? Have you had any patient contacts (either through volunteer work, or helping out at some events)?

I ask about patient contacts because I have personally found that I enjoy them a lot (I work part time in EMS, in addition to my full-time EE work). If you have some experiences with patients and have found those enjoyable and rewarding, then the medical school route is worth pursuing, IMO. If you have some patient contacts and have not really felt good about them, then medical school is probably not a good choice. If you have no patient contacts at all yet, then I would encourage you to find some ways to start volunteering in medical settings, to see how you feel about it. It would be a tremendous waste of time, IMO, to go through medical school only to find out that you don't really like helping patients (even difficult patients, and patients who are badly injured or very ill).

My two cents.
 
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  • #10
symbolipoint
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berkeman said or gave his "two cents", but the advice he gave is really more like $6 or $8 dollars.
 
  • #11
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Is this a correct summary of your scenario?

In your school,
(a) a BS in Biomedical Physics is adequate preparation for med school, but not for a PhD program in physics
(b) a BS in Advanced Physics is adequate preparation for a PhD program in physics, but not for med school

(c) your heart seems to be saying you really want to later pursue a PhD program in physics, but you want the fallback option of going to med school
(d) you have no intention whatsoever of pursuing a PhD program in Biomedical Physics.


If the above summary is correct, then the obvious choice would be to pursue a BS in Biomedical Physics and a BS in Advanced Physics rather than a BS in Biomedical Physics and a MS in Biomedical Physics.

Caveat: Will the MS in Biomedical Physics increase your odds of getting into med school and provide you adequate preparation for a PhD program in physics? If so, it's worth considering (assuming it takes the same amount of time to complete as two BS, and you want to defer your med school/grad school decision). If not (or if the BS/MS route takes longer than the two BS route), why bother?
That does summarize the scenario, except that so far the main plan is med school and the fallback plan is biomedical physics because it has promising career opportunities. Now the reason I’m considering med school even though I really want a physics PhD is because as far as I know it has the best careers out there, and I don’t want to misjudge in my early years and this seems to leave my oppertunities open for later decisions.

Thank you for the help :)
 
  • #12
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May I ask what has inspired you to want to go to medical school and become a doctor? Do you have experience in the medical field in some way? Have you had any patient contacts (either through volunteer work, or helping out at some events)?

I ask about patient contacts because I have personally found that I enjoy them a lot (I work part time in EMS, in addition to my full-time EE work). If you have some experiences with patients and have found those enjoyable and rewarding, then the medical school route is worth pursuing, IMO. If you have some patient contacts and have not really felt good about them, then medical school is probably not a good choice. If you have no patient contacts at all yet, then I would encourage you to find some ways to start volunteering in medical settings, to see how you feel about it. It would be a tremendous waste of time, IMO, to go through medical school only to find out that you don't really like helping patients (even difficult patients, and patients who are very injured or very ill).

My two cents.
I’ve yet to have any medical experience honestly, but I’m definitely going to look into it and take your advice and see what I can do to finalize my decisions. This is very helpful, thank you.
 
  • #13
ZapperZ
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This thread is VERY confusing. The OP seems to vacillate back and forth between different goals and ambition with each post!

Zz.
 
  • #14
jtbell
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Maybe I missed it while skimming through the thread, but what year of college/university are you in?
 
  • #15
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This thread is VERY confusing. The OP seems to vacillate back and forth between different goals and ambition with each post!

Zz.
Sorry about that. I myself was in so much confusion, which is why I turned to this thread, but still couldn't be clear enough with what I wanted lol
 
  • #16
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Maybe I missed it while skimming through the thread, but what year of college/university are you in?
Sophmore by the coming Fall 2018
I don't believe that was mentioned actually.
 
  • #17
CrysPhys
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That does summarize the scenario, except that so far the main plan is med school and the fallback plan is biomedical physics because it has promising career opportunities. Now the reason I’m considering med school even though I really want a physics PhD is because as far as I know it has the best careers out there, and I don’t want to misjudge in my early years and this seems to leave my oppertunities open for later decisions.

Thank you for the help :)
<<Emphasis added.>> If that is so, then why do you keep emphasizing that if you were to pursue a PhD program, it would be in <regular> physics, not biomedical physics?
 
  • #18
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<<Emphasis added.>> If that is so, then why do you keep emphasizing that if you were to pursue a PhD program, it would be in <regular> physics, not biomedical physics?
Because I like regular physics better than biomedical physics, but the latter keeps my opportunities open for later in case I decide to pursue either med school or a physics PhD, while leaving me with good enough career opportunities if I didn't pursue either fields.
I think I mislead everyone with my wording, all I wanted to know was if generally having two bachelor degrees in Biomedical and regular Physics was worth more than a single Biomedical Physics master's degree
 
  • #19
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all I wanted to know was if generally having two bachelor degrees in Biomedical and regular Physics was worth more than a single Biomedical Physics master's degree
IMHO, a Masters degree is worth more than two bachelors degrees. Often a Master's degree requires some classes that are much harder than the undergrad classes.
 
  • #20
CrysPhys
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Because I like regular physics better than biomedical physics, but the latter keeps my opportunities open for later in case I decide to pursue either med school or a physics PhD, while leaving me with good enough career opportunities if I didn't pursue either fields.
I think I mislead everyone with my wording, all I wanted to know was if generally having two bachelor degrees in Biomedical and regular Physics was worth more than a single Biomedical Physics master's degree
<<Emphasis added.>> You can't ask this question in isolation. Which option is better depends on the context of what your end goals are; and so far, it appears to me you don't really have your end goals well defined. See the analysis again I gave you in my Post #8. Now re-run the analysis for whatever your current assumptions are. E.g., if you want to retain the option of getting a PhD in regular physics, and if a BS in Advanced Physics will prepare you better than an MS in Biomedical Physics <assumptions you need to confirm for the programs at your school>, which choice should you make? Obviously the BS in Advanced Physics (assuming the BS in Biomedical Physics is sufficient for you to retain the option of going to med school).
 
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  • #21
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<<Emphasis added.>> You can't ask this question in isolation. Which option is better depends on the context of what your end goals are; and so far, it appears to me you don't really have your end goals well defined. See the analysis again I gave you in my Post #8. Now re-run the analysis for whatever your current assumptions are. E.g., if you want to retain the option of getting a PhD in regular physics, and if a BS in Advanced Physics will prepare you better than an MS in Biomedical Physics <assumptions you need to confirm for the programs at your school>, which choice should you make? Obviously the BS in Advanced Physics (assuming the BS in Biomedical Physics is sufficient for you to retain the option of going to med school).
Yeah, you’re right. I certainly need another another talk with my advisor to sort things out. Sorry, now I get where you’re coming from
 
  • #22
jtbell
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You should also investigate whether it's possible to work towards both goals with a single BS. For example, if you choose the BS in Advanced Physics (so as to prepare for grad school), is it possible to supplement it with enough extra courses to prepare you for medical school?

At the college where I used to teach, there wasn't even a specific major for pre-med students. A committee laid out a list of courses for pre-med preparation, and wrote letters of recommendation for students who completed them and went through an interview with the committee. They could major in anything that left them enough room in their schedule to fit in the designated pre-med courses. Most were biology majors, but we also had chemistry, psychology, political science, English, and even at least one physics major.

My impression is that medical schools don't care about your major field. They look at the specific courses you've taken, your MCAT score, your medicine-related activities (e.g. internships) and your letters of recommendation.
 
  • #23
jtbell
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Also, what is the difference (in terms of coursework) between the Biomedical Physics BS and the Advanced Physics BS?

As I understand it, physics PhD programs generally require as a minimum, what I call the "core four" upper-level undergraduate courses: classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics + statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics. Does the Biomedical Physics BS include all of those courses? If not, do you have enough room in your schedule to add the missing ones?

Also, physics grad schools like to see some research experience. Can you get that as part of the Biomedical Physics degree, or alongside it?

My point is that the Biomedical Physics BS may work OK for straight-physics grad school admission, if you can supplement it as necessary.
 
  • #24
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Also, what is the difference (in terms of coursework) between the Biomedical Physics BS and the Advanced Physics BS?

As I understand it, physics PhD programs generally require as a minimum, what I call the "core four" upper-level undergraduate courses: classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics + statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics. Does the Biomedical Physics BS include all of those courses? If not, do you have enough room in your schedule to add the missing ones?

Also, physics grad schools like to see some research experience. Can you get that as part of the Biomedical Physics degree, or alongside it?

My point is that the Biomedical Physics BS may work OK for straight-physics grad school admission, if you can supplement it as necessary.
I see, I definitely have to look after what requirements for grad school are covered by the biomedical physics major and what can be waived/substituted by them.
The requirements that aren't covered I'll definitely have to take later in order to apply. (This will eventually get me a BS in Physics anyways.) along with some research experience that I can look into with my school.

Thank you.
 

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