Should I choose a master's program rather than a phd?

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Should I choose a master's program rather than a phd?

Post by physicsforthewin » Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:09 pm

Hello, I am an international student from a not very well known school at my country majoring in physics. My GPA is 3.72 (not sure if it is competitive for the us). I took the physics gre but I don't know the result yet it should be out soon, worst case scenario is that I will get around 800 (the exam didn't go very well for me).

I am considering applying to a master's program rather than a phd in the US to increase my chances in the future of getting into a more prestigious school for phd. I think that this will give me the time to get and idea of the going research on physics and a chance to do more research and maybe publish. But, I don't know how competitive are masters programs in physics in the US, is it like the phd, easier or harder? and is it funded like phd or will I need to look for a scholarship to fund myself?

my research experience is 2 summers in computational astrophysics and I want to pursue phd in computational physics. What do you recommend?

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Re: Should I choose a master's program rather than a phd?

Post by Nishikata » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:01 pm

From what I know, most US universities don't offer terminal Master's in Physics, except for US military personnels.
For those who do, there is almost certainly no funding available. You'll have to find external funding or pay it yourself.

If you wish to go for Master's, the logical route is to do it in other countries, and apply for PhD in US after you have your Master's somewhere else.

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Re: Should I choose a master's program rather than a phd?

Post by dudeguy » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:28 pm

I am considering the same thing and spoke to the former graduate admissions director at my school's physics department for advice. He said it was a "reasonable" thing to do. He said it looks good if you take graduate courses in a Master's program and do well and show growth. He also said to be honest in your personal statement and explain why you decided you'd benefit from doing a Master's first since it's common in the U.S. to go straight to PhD. He did say also that it'd be bad if you did the Master's but then got "B's", because that would then show what type of graduate student you are, meanwhile Departments could remain agnostic about undergrads who haven't taken graduate courses at all, so be careful with that. If you do a Master's make sure you do well, a B in graduate school is much worse than a B in undergrad. He also said that it'd be best to do a research Master's where you write a thesis, and that way you can also get a good letter from your advisor.

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