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Can we do a Masters in Physics after a bachelors in Engineering?


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#1 gokul.er137

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 05:55 PM

I do not refer to dual programs in which we end up with an engineering degree followed by a post graduate degree. Can we do them separately, like B.E. Mechanical Engineering followed by MS in Physics ? Do Universities like MIT, Caltech accept people with a degree in engineering into their Postgraduate Pure Science programs?
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#2 timo

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 06:52 PM

I imagine you'd find it hard to do something in a masters course. I'd expect a good engineer can at least equal an average physicist when it comes to math skills. But I wonder: What physics knowledge do you expect a mechanical engineer to have? I expect classical mechanics, Lagrange mechanics and Thermodynamics at the chemists' level. That's stuff from the first two semesters in physics lacking relativity, statistics, quantum mechanics and field theory approaches. I might be wrong about my estimate of the physics a mechanical engineer learns (and also wrong about the physics taught in a US bachelor course) - it's not too unrealistic that they also learn electrodynamics, for example.

I would imagine the lack of basic physics skills to be rather tremendous and am not sure if e.g. there is any physics research that a mechanical engineer -provided the skill I expected above- could work on out of the box - except maybe biophysics :D. Fixing on elite universities will probably not make it easier. In case you are a mechanical engineer: I might underestimate the physics they learn but do not overestimate it, either. There is a strong tendency among students to completely overestimate the stuff they learn and the level they learn it at: Chemists regularly think they learn as much physics as physicists plus their chemistry. Teaching students (this possibly exists in Germany only) for subjects A and B claim they learn as much A as the A students plus as much B as the B students plus pedagogics. Physicists and computer scientists fantasize that they were learning as much mathematics as mathematicians, ... . Quite obviously, that's all bullshit.

Edited by timo, 30 July 2009 - 07:01 PM.

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#3 gokul.er137

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 09:21 AM

Well, I am going to become a mechanical engineer but I am strongly inclined towards Astrophysics. As you say, I don't know everything. I know a decent level of relativity, quantum mechanics and pure sciences. I am constantly in the learning process and will be publishing a few papers in the near future. Plus, I am involved in a project based on Space time models. Is this an indication to the Universities that I could be a prospective student?
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#4 ajb

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Posted 1 August 2009 - 02:37 PM

I do know people who have done postgraduate studies in physics, but have degrees in engineering and chemistry. So, it is not impossible for you to follow. I suggest you contact the schools you have in mind.
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#5 D H

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Posted 1 August 2009 - 03:38 PM

Is it possible to get an advanced degree that is not directly related to your Bachelor's? Sure.

http://en.wikipedia....iffin#Education

Dr. Griffin holds seven degrees, and is pursuing his eighth. In chronological order of attainment, Dr. Griffin's degrees include:

BS Physics, Johns Hopkins University, 1971
MS Aerospace Science, The Catholic University of America, 1974
PhD Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, 1977
MEng Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, 1979
MS Applied Physics, Johns Hopkins University, 1983
MBA Master of Business Administration, Loyola College in Maryland
MEng Civil Engineering, The George Washington University, 1998


As a MechE you may well have a better understanding of Newtonian mechanics than do those physics grads. That's because education in physics is more concerned with quantum physics than Newtonian mechanics. To switch from mechanical engineering to physics you will need to take some upper level undergraduate physics classes to meet the requirements for admission into a graduate level physics program.
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#6 gokul.er137

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Posted 3 August 2009 - 12:08 PM

Thanks for that ajb, D H. btw Griffin seems to be one helluva guy.

D H - Thanks for that info. I am as of now involved in certain physics projects based on spacetime concepts with a PhD professor. Is publishing papers a good indication to top Univ's about my inclination towards physics?
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#7 ee-guy

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:31 PM

I imagine you'd find it hard to do something in a masters course. I'd expect a good engineer can at least equal an average physicist when it comes to math skills. But I wonder: What physics knowledge do you expect a mechanical engineer to have? I expect classical mechanics, Lagrange mechanics and Thermodynamics at the chemists' level. That's stuff from the first two semesters in physics lacking relativity, statistics, quantum mechanics and field theory approaches. I might be wrong about my estimate of the physics a mechanical engineer learns (and also wrong about the physics taught in a US bachelor course) - it's not too unrealistic that they also learn electrodynamics, for example.

I would imagine the lack of basic physics skills to be rather tremendous and am not sure if e.g. there is any physics research that a mechanical engineer -provided the skill I expected above- could work on out of the box - except maybe biophysics :D. Fixing on elite universities will probably not make it easier. In case you are a mechanical engineer: I might underestimate the physics they learn but do not overestimate it, either. There is a strong tendency among students to completely overestimate the stuff they learn and the level they learn it at: Chemists regularly think they learn as much physics as physicists plus their chemistry. Teaching students (this possibly exists in Germany only) for subjects A and B claim they learn as much A as the A students plus as much B as the B students plus pedagogics. Physicists and computer scientists fantasize that they were learning as much mathematics as mathematicians, ... . Quite obviously, that's all bullshit.

Hello,

I am an Electrical engineering student. At this point I am minoring in physics and thus I am taking some extra upper division quantum mechanics,classical mechanics and lab courses. Do you think that EEs stand any greater chance than other engineers of breaking into a Masters program in physics?

Edited by ee-guy, 18 September 2009 - 04:33 PM.
grammar error

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#8 timo

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 05:49 PM

I dunno, of course. But from the fields of knowledge I listed above that I'd expect a Mechanical Engineer to lack, I'd think an Electrical Engineer at least knows a few more of. Namely field theory approaches (the EM field) and relativity. You do know what a scalar potential, a vector potential and the 4-potential (for the EM field) is, right? I cannot judge lab-courses; my knowledge about applied or experimental physics is extremely limited.

In any case, and that might not have come across properly in my previous post, chances of being accepted will probably depend on
1) the field and approach (theory vs. experiment) you are going for (which is where the list of possibly lacking or possible additional skills comes in),
2) how specialized Masters courses are in your country (I just dunno for any country),
3) to what extend the programs are laid out such that missing skills can or must be obtained (dunno either),
4) the amount of competition (how many possibly better-suited candidates are there?).

I certainly don't want to discourage anyone. There's no loss in trying and not being accepted, in any case. I just find it unfair to tell everyone "sure, you can do it; everyone can do everything" just because it is a nice thing to say and somewhat sociologically correct - irrespective of possible reality. That said I might be completely wrong and switching subjects is just as easy as staying in the same field. I merely meant to mention a few possible problems I can imagine because I think/hope it's more constructive than a virtual pat on the back.

If you know relativistic electrodynamics and have taken a physics course in QM then you meet most of the fields that came to my mind above (statistical physics might be the least important of those, but that again depends on the field and approach), so you are probably quite well prepared (on paper and in reality). Same goes for gokul.er137: If you write research papers in physics then you are at the level that a physics student is after the masters program - the professor you are working with could also have told you so, I think.
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#9 ajb

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 06:45 PM

Do you think that EEs stand any greater chance than other engineers of breaking into a Masters program in physics?


I don't know if the chance is greater, but electrical engineering students are likely to know some electromagnetism and quantum mechanics (if you have studied modern devices). This puts you in a reasonable position.
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#10 InigoMontoya

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 05:41 AM

I imagine you'd find it hard to do something in a masters course. I'd expect a good engineer can at least equal an average physicist when it comes to math skills. But I wonder: What physics knowledge do you expect a mechanical engineer to have? I expect classical mechanics, Lagrange mechanics and Thermodynamics at the chemists' level. That's stuff from the first two semesters in physics lacking relativity, statistics, quantum mechanics and field theory approaches. I might be wrong about my estimate of the physics a mechanical engineer learns


Granted, I haven't stepped foot in a college classroom in nearly 20 years, but as one who possesses a BSME I can say that my course of study did in fact include relativity, statistics, and quantum mechanics. Ya got me on field theory, however.

Mind you, I never could figure out WHY the Mech Eng department required their students to take classes on relativity and quantum mech (and I've never used that knowledge professionally, not even once!), but it was in fact a requirement.
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#11 Bilal

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 09:28 AM

I can choose any mechanical or electrical engineering. Which one will help more in doing masters in physics after my B.E ?
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#12 nataliya

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 05:16 AM

hey,
nice post it's very informative.
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#13 mississippichem

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 02:37 PM

There is a strong tendency among students to completely overestimate the stuff they learn and the level they learn it at: Chemists regularly think they learn as much physics as physicists plus their chemistry. Teaching students (this possibly exists in Germany only) for subjects A and B claim they learn as much A as the A students plus as much B as the B students plus pedagogics. Physicists and computer scientists fantasize that they were learning as much mathematics as mathematicians, ... . Quite obviously, that's all bullshit.


I know a few physicists that think they understand mass-spec fragmentation patterns and molecular dynamics :P. Sorry, had to take up for the home team. Forgive my post quote necromancy.

And yes, I know a good bit of QM that is applicable but I don't have the slightest clue about anything with the words "field theory" in it. We chemists blissfully neglect gravity as well, except for the fact that it keeps liquids in beakers.
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#14 DrRocket

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 06:35 PM

I imagine you'd find it hard to do something in a masters course. I'd expect a good engineer can at least equal an average physicist when it comes to math skills. But I wonder: What physics knowledge do you expect a mechanical engineer to have? I expect classical mechanics, Lagrange mechanics and Thermodynamics at the chemists' level. That's stuff from the first two semesters in physics lacking relativity, statistics, quantum mechanics and field theory approaches. I might be wrong about my estimate of the physics a mechanical engineer learns (and also wrong about the physics taught in a US bachelor course) - it's not too unrealistic that they also learn electrodynamics, for example.

I would imagine the lack of basic physics skills to be rather tremendous and am not sure if e.g. there is any physics research that a mechanical engineer -provided the skill I expected above- could work on out of the box - except maybe biophysics :D. Fixing on elite universities will probably not make it easier. In case you are a mechanical engineer: I might underestimate the physics they learn but do not overestimate it, either. There is a strong tendency among students to completely overestimate the stuff they learn and the level they learn it at: Chemists regularly think they learn as much physics as physicists plus their chemistry. Teaching students (this possibly exists in Germany only) for subjects A and B claim they learn as much A as the A students plus as much B as the B students plus pedagogics. Physicists and computer scientists fantasize that they were learning as much mathematics as mathematicians, ... . Quite obviously, that's all bullshit.


It all depends on the individual.

I took almost no undergraduate mathematics (except calculus and introductory linearbalgebra and on semester of introductory real analysis) but did manage to step from a master's program in electrical engineering into a PhD program in pure mathematics.

Pre-requisites are there to be waived.
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#15 Adams Baker

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Posted 2 May 2011 - 09:30 AM

Yes, you can do Masters in physics after a bachelor's in engineering. There are various colleges that can offer Masters in Physics after Bachelor's in Engineering. There are also lots of jobs out there for physicists. For more information you may get reference from here http://www.thedegreeexperts.com


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#16 DrRocket

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 05:18 AM

Yes, you can do Masters in physics after a bachelor's in engineering. There are various colleges that can offer Masters in Physics after Bachelor's in Engineering. There are also lots of jobs out there for physicists. For more information you may get reference from here http://www.thedegreeexperts.com



Absolutely. All you need to do is be accepted into a graduate program. But you should know that in the sciences, unlike engineering the master's degree is not normally a degree that is sought. Quite frankly it is often a consolation prize for those who don't make it to the Ph.D. The point is that you are more likely to get into a program if your objective is a Ph.D. It will be helpful if you have impressed your Physics professors while pursuing your B.S. in engineering.

It is not at all unusual to obtain a graduate degree in a discipline that is related to but different than that of your B.S. or even M.S.
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#17 ajb

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 08:44 AM

I took almost no undergraduate mathematics (except calculus and introductory linearbalgebra and on semester of introductory real analysis) but did manage to step from a master's program in electrical engineering into a PhD program in pure mathematics.


Quite frankly it is often a consolation prize for those who don't make it to the Ph.D.


My undergraduate degree is in physics, I then used my MSc to get into a good university on a PhD program for pure mathematics. So, I would say that a masters (or part III of the tripos) can be used as a stepping stone to a PhD, but it is not usually required by any rules. In my opinion, one would not in the long term miss much by not doing a masters. Though I must point out this is in relation to the UK system.

Edited by ajb, 24 May 2011 - 08:45 AM.

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#18 timo

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 09:31 AM

I think that the value and necessity of an M.Sc may depend on country and perhaps also field. From a mini-test: I looked at 5 PhD position announcements on spires (high energy physics). 2/5 did not explicitly mention any required qualifications, 2/5 mentioned a Masters as requirement (link 1 ,link 2), 1/5 did mention a B.Sc. (link). In Germany, the M.Sc is considered as a dropout degree by many, particularly by the students themselves, who are afraid that their education is worthless if they don't get at least a Master's degree. I know of no physics B.Sc that did not continue their studies with a Master's course, which is considered the relevant qualification for a PhD position, here.

It would be cool if goku gave some feedback how it actually went, but seeing goku's last activity was over a year ago I doubt that will happen.
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#19 DrRocket

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 03:36 PM

If you have the necessary ability you can change disciplines as late as you please. Eugene Wigner earned a Dr. Ing. in chemical engineering, and a Nobel Prize in physics.
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#20 Adams Baker

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 07:54 AM

You may want to enter a Master's program in a different field from your Bachelor's. In that case you can take a half-year deficiency program, which will give you access to a much wider range of Master's programs. The deficiency program consists of courses with the biggest differences from your prior education. You can enter a Master's program at TU/e, but also at Deft University of Technology or the University of Twente. From here http://www.thedegreeexperts.com/online-degree.aspx you may get more information regarding this.


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