I am a senior applying to American grad schools in applied physics for a PhD and I am considering the feasibility of deferring for two years to acquire an MS in roughly the same field in Germany if I can acquire funding. I know that I can (and likely will) contact departments directly for information about this unusual move, but I would like to hear from others who may have personal experience with this situation (and who might not hold it against me in the admissions process).
My motivations for this unusual trajectory are: a long time desire to study/live in Germany (which I never did in undergrad; I've never even left the USA), the desire to build connections and try to get my foot in the door for living there later (e.g. working at a Max Planck Institute), and a few personal, family reasons. Though my German is beginner level, the masters there are usually in English, and I'm not too bad at picking up language for daily life. I'm considering specific programs, so this is a bit more serious than "I just want to travel and see stuff," though that is also true.
Just to inform further: My credentials are fairly good (3.96 GPA, 1 good REU with a LoR, strong LoRs from my college professors). Though my PGRE is not stellar (750, or 62%), I'm pleased with it, and it's actually quite strong for the liberal arts college I go to, or for that matter most other domestic students who do not attend a research university with a big physics department. I'm applying to the likes of UWash, Columbia, Brown, and the UCs as well as a few safeties.
I considered saying goodbye to the USA and try to go all out for a MS -> PhD in Germany, but having never actually lived there thought it imprudent; better to be safe with a reputable degree from the States and either stay here or head back to Germany later with connections already in place.
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