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

  1. Jun 14, 2018 #1
    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2018 #2


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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.

  4. Jun 14, 2018 #3


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    Then why are you studying Biomedical Physics?
  5. Jun 14, 2018 #4
    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?
  6. Jun 14, 2018 #5


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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.
  7. Jun 16, 2018 #6
    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
  8. Jun 16, 2018 #7
    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.
  9. Jun 17, 2018 #8
    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?
  10. Jun 17, 2018 #9


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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 badly injured or very ill).

    My two cents.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  11. Jun 17, 2018 #10


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    berkeman said or gave his "two cents", but the advice he gave is really more like $6 or $8 dollars.
  12. Jun 18, 2018 #11
    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 :)
  13. Jun 18, 2018 #12
    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.
  14. Jun 19, 2018 #13


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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!

  15. Jun 19, 2018 #14


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    Maybe I missed it while skimming through the thread, but what year of college/university are you in?
  16. Jun 19, 2018 #15
    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
  17. Jun 19, 2018 #16
    Sophmore by the coming Fall 2018
    I don't believe that was mentioned actually.
  18. Jun 19, 2018 #17
    <<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?
  19. Jun 19, 2018 #18
    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
  20. Jun 19, 2018 #19


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    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.
  21. Jun 19, 2018 #20
    <<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).
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
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