Please help..!! MS school selection

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Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2015 4:36 pm

Please help..!! MS school selection

Post by DT » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:16 am


I need help in deciding schools for MS in physics. Here is a bit of my background.

Ugrad: top 15 physics
Overall GPA 2.9
Phys GPA 3.3
PGRE 750

I took 3 graduate courses (got A's). I have an upward trend where my semester GPA went from 1.0 to 3.9 (not instantaneously but over 3 years).

Research with most recent first:
1. first author publication draft in cosmology (theo, simulation, modelling). Prof. will submit within days to MNRAS. [prev. received an award for thesis]
2. SUSY project (no pub)
3/4. Running, testing, troubleshooting in a mech engineering lab (no pub)
3/4. Solar energy (received an award for thesis)

1. Create a web for public outreach (STEM)
2. Volunteer to promote physics to K-12 through hands-on activities

Misc: been out of touch for a year and half after graduation due to health issues. Fully resolved by beginning of 2018.


I knew it was too late to apply for PhD when I finally got better and also knew I lacked in some areas to be a competitive PhD applicant (I want to attend top school for cosmology) so I applied to APS bridge program and traditional masters program. I got into a few and I really need some advice on which school to choose and/or how I should choose a school. Here are the info:

Research interest
Cosmology (#1 choice), astronomy/astrophysics, high energy/particle physics [all theo]

APS Bridge Program
Tuition covered through TA. Future scholarships/fellowships may be possible. Some of past graduates went to UCSB, UIUC, UCLA, etc. Faculty seem very attentive and caring perhaps because their goal is to help students get into PhD(?). I am worried faculty isn't as active as some of the more prestigious schools (I am basing this on number of publications); hence, I may not be able to publish or produce fruitful research results. I am also worried schools are not well known in physics (they are not PhD granting institutions).

Trad. MS
Stony Brook
Zero financial aid from dept. I am not sure if faculty will give as much attention to MS students as they do to PhD students. Faculty members publish a lot and schools have good physics reputation.

Which school should I attend and why if my main goal is to get into a top PhD school? As I mentioned, I am interested in theory particularly in cosmology (first choice), astronomy/astrophysics, high energy/particle physics.

I may not have added all the necessary details for you guys to give me a good advice. Please let me know and I will fill in the details. Thank you for reading such a long post.

P.s. any thoughts on University of Alabama? I was accepted through the Bridge Program and forgot to add it.

Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:28 am

Re: Please help..!! MS school selection

Post by IMSSEQMC » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:41 pm

So I wasn't going to post, as I'm unfamiliar with both hep/astro theory, but since no one else has said anything yet, I'll give my two cents (which you should take with a large grain of salt) because I was in a similar situation (check my post on the acceptances thread: ... 00#p199971).

I'd probably go with Stony Brook since I have no idea about the people you are interested in working with. My main reason for this is because:
1. Stony Brook and Northwestern seem similar enough in rankings to not really matter (bar nuclear?).
2. Stony Brook seems to offer you 2 years (but allows you to finish earlier if you want), whereas Northwestern seems to only offer 1 year (including a summer).
3. Stony Brook seems to have more alumni from their MA program and they have gone to a variety of places, although most trickle into Stony Brook PhD, which is still amazing. ( ... lumni.html) ( ... umni.shtml)
4. Although Northwestern is 30 minutes closer to a big city (Chicago) and UChicago which is great for Astronomy/Cosmology I hear (they have the KICP), I'm not so sure how much of a factor this is to you.

I take it you ruled out CSULA? I heard they have an interesting connection with NASA.


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