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What should I study in Grad School

  1. Jun 1, 2012 #1
    I am currently majoring in Applied Physics and have an interest in electronic devices and material properties. I am applying to grad school in the fall and having trouble deciding between Material Science, Physics, and EE. I am currently leaning towards EE but was wondering if anyone here had any input to help picking?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2012 #2
    Actually I'm on the same road like id the sloth. Except for the EE.
    My field of expertise in the undergraduate level is the physics of materials. So I'm really interested in applying for PhD in Material Science in the US. I'm really confused because some matsci programms come from the school of chemical eng, others from mech eng and others standalone as "School of Material Science & Engineering (MSE).

    Most of the MSEs graduate courses offer different courses for those interested in either materials science or materials engineering.
    Reading the courses of every school I'm interested led me to think that material science has a lot in common with my courses in physics of materials in my school of appplied physics. But still I'm worried if there is to much engineering in it.. I don't want to be completely separated from physics.

    I like the challenge of studiyng the properties of new materials and trying to improve them. Does that put me in the right path or should I look for a PhD in another field?
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  4. Sep 24, 2012 #3
    I don't know how helpful my advice can be, but I think you are good for a PhD in Material Science. I think for a degree like Material Science, you can never really be very separated from physics. A PhD in (Applied) Physics focusing on solid state materials/ condensed matter may also be an option for you.

    Many people with physics degrees go into materials work. The nature of the research can be different depending on the labs though. Most engineering labs have a purpose in mind when they do research. Something that they can use their research to improve. Physics labs tend to be interested in fundamental properties and explaining things. Of course these categories are not mutually exclusive. And getting a degree in material science does not prevent you from working in a physics lab and vice-versa.

    Given that you said that you like the idea of studying new materials and improving them, you could be good with both degrees. I think material science may be better, but I find I am more partial to engineering research. The major does not really prevent you from doing the research you want I think. It's just that doing a materials degree would have you do more material related coursework. Possibly may make finding a nonacademic job easier later too, but don't quote me on that.

    I hope this was helpful.
  5. Sep 24, 2012 #4
    Actually it was very helpful indeed. Thanks a lot!
  6. Sep 24, 2012 #5
    Do let me know if you have any other questions. I know exactly what you are going through.
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