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What to do after studies? Really don't want to teach.

  1. Jan 21, 2012 #1
    I have a question. Let's say i finish my MS, PhD, the whole package. Then what? What are my prospects?Also, while doing my PhD, do I get to choose what I work on or is it picked out for me from a list. My sister's doing a PhD in Biology, and that's what they do. They choose their doctoral topic from a list. Isn't that discouraging to original research?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2012 #2
    When you start doctoral studies you will not know physics nearly well enough to have any idea what are open questions in your field. That's why you need a supervisor, to tell you what things are unknown and that you might be able to get an answer on.
  4. Jan 25, 2012 #3
    i'd say the specifics of what research you do isn't as important for most students, as whether it interests you personally, and what skills you get out of it.

    afterwards in your job you apply the skills you've learned to design products or operations. for example, you learn about EM wave propagation, so you can design a waveguide to direct the propagation. at microwave frequencies, you can arrange waveguides such that there would be a standing wave inside a cavity, and you get a microwave oven... this is just one example.

    or do finance.
  5. Jan 25, 2012 #4


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    Is this PhD going to be in physics? There are many applications than teaching (which is good, because there are far more people who want to teach than there are faculty jobs for them anyway). There are jobs in industry, research and development, for the government and government contractors, national labs, finance/Wall Street, and more. And most of those tend to pay better than academia.

    No, you don't pick a PhD topic from a list. At least I don't know anyone who's had that experience in physics/astronomy. You would want to have a general idea about the field you're interested in before picking a grad school (some of them have very specific specialties). When you get to grad school, you'd get to know the professors and figure out who you might be interested in working with (your choice of adviser can have a bigger impact on your grad school experience and job expectations than your choice of field). You and the adviser would figure out what topics interest you and what they could supervise you in, as far as their own knowledge or resources go.
  6. Jan 25, 2012 #5
    I will give my personal opinion (which is based on my personal experience) and I am sure that some will disagree. The fact that you do not know what 'the prospects' are upon receiving an MS/PhD in your field (whatever it may be) means that you should not really be thinking about doing graduate work. Sure, it's okay to have in the back of your head, but why waste years of work and effort just to have 'prospects?' In my opinion, you should be working toward finding out what you enjoy doing/studying and try to figure out a) how you can make a living by doing this and b) what path you need to follow in order to achieve it. If this means more school, then of course, go for it. Always keep an open mind and realize that getting a job doing what you like and getting a job in the field that you like might be different things. I like physics, but my major and MS are in Mechanical Engineering. I did my MS in an engineering topic that was "close to physics" as I saw it. What I mean is that some parts of engineering are so 'applied' that you can hardly 'see' the physics involved, whereas some ares are so 'theoretical' that you can hardly see the application (at least at first glance). This was the compromise that found acceptable. I can still study physics in my own time and I have really enjoyed studying M.E. as well and my job prospects are pretty good.

    Good luck with whatever you do :smile:

    Also, one last thing. I think the best advice that I can give is this: Assume that everyone's advice stinks and is biased in some way. So in order to make use of any of it, you should listen to all of it. Don't follow all of it, just listen. Take what you need, and tuck the rest away. You might need it someday.
  7. Jan 25, 2012 #6


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  8. Apr 15, 2012 #7
    SaladSamurai Thanks that helped.
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