Plasma Physics Ph.D. vs Nuclear Science/Engineering Ph.D in Fusion

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Plasma Physics Ph.D. vs Nuclear Science/Engineering Ph.D in Fusion

Post by tomado » Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:55 pm

Hey all,

I'm getting my application ready to apply for this upcoming round of admissions (for the 2018 school year), and I was looking at both Plasma Physics and the Nuclear Science / Engineering (NSE) program at MIT. My questions revolve around how different the Ph.D. work would actually be in general for Plasma Physics research vs NSE research. I generally understand the difference between Physics and Engineering (ha, I should know that!); however, reviewing at least the MIT NSE program in Fusion, it seems as if the general grad classes are different while the upper level courses are the same (in fact the same class with the same instructors). It would seem to me that someone working in Fusion would need to have a solid grasp of both the physics of plasmas and the engineering complexities of the reactor.

So my questions are:
1) Is the research in these two areas really that different, or is there a lot of overlap? I've seen some people post on this forum saying they wanted to study PP, but were worried that they would have to settle for NSE...however, looking at programs, they don't seem that different to me. I mean, there are even a good number of MIT profs that are listed on both websites.
2) Also, as far as job outlook goes, I've seen in the corporate world that Engineering is generally more valued than the pure sciences. Would anyone think this is the case here as well? Would a Ph.D. in PP track me for more academic-oriented jobs (post docs, professor, etc) while NSE would track me more for industry?
3) Third, would an NSE program be easier/less competitive to get into than PP?

Thanks in advance for advice and opinions. Right now I'm planning on applying for both types of programs.

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