Phd programs in Astrophysics/Cosmology(in the US) which don't require Masters degree

SS1234
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:28 pm

Phd programs in Astrophysics/Cosmology(in the US) which don't require Masters degree

Postby SS1234 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:27 am

Hi,
I am a final year B.tech student(from India) with major in Engineering Physics.I would like to apply for Phd in Astrophysics/Cosmology(I have research experience in cosmology but I am thinking of shifting to observational astrophysics).I was wondering if all Phd programs require a Masters degree or a B.tech degree would be fine.If not, I would like to know about joint MS/Phd programs in the US.
Thanks.

admissionprof
Posts: 366
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: Phd programs in Astrophysics/Cosmology(in the US) which don't require Masters degree

Postby admissionprof » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:00 pm

Huh? I didn't know there were any PhD programs in the US that DID require a Masters degree. You often just apply to a physics or physics and astronomy department without needing to specify a specialty. Joint MS/PhD programs don't make much sense -- Almost all PhD programs give an MS to those who leave after two years -- a Masters doesn't mean that much in Physics.

The fact that you ask that question tells me that you haven't spent much time looking on this site.

TakeruK
Posts: 865
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Phd programs in Astrophysics/Cosmology(in the US) which don't require Masters degree

Postby TakeruK » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:38 am

As admissionprof said, most astro/physics PhD programs in the USA do not require a Masters degree. They generally accept students right from a Bachelor degree.

However, many (but certainly not a majority!) international students do seek a Masters degree before entering a US Physics/Astro PhD program. This is more common when:

1) The student's undergrad degree is a 3-year degree instead of a 4-year degree that is the norm in the US, and/or
2) The student's undergrad degree is not in Physics/Astro but in a related field (e.g. engineering, computer science) but the student doesn't have enough undergrad physics/math/astro classes to get into a PhD program (especially if the above point applies), and/or
3) The student is from a country where getting a Masters before PhD is normal so they got a Masters after their undergrad in order to apply to PhD programs in the US as well as other places that generally require a Masters first (e.g. Canada), and/or
4) The student feels that the additional experience and coursework in a Physics/Astro Masters degree will make them more competitive.

So while you might know or have heard of many students going to a Masters program before a PhD, it is almost never a strict requirement of US programs. However, depending on the student's background and experience, many may choose to pursue a Masters degree first. In the US, a Masters degree isn't very meaningful and can cost a LOT of money. Just wanted to point out that the majority of international students meeting the above criteria have gotten their Masters degrees from places outside of the US (e.g. my PhD program had many international students with Masters from Canada, UK [Cambridge], and Zurich especially).




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