Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

karstenchu
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:35 am

Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

Postby karstenchu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:44 am

Hello everyone.

I'm currently looking into applying to local Masters programs in the Philadelphia area. Having just registered for the PGRE, I've set my scores to be sent to University of Delaware, Drexel, Temple and University of Pennsylvania. Personally, I'm really keen on Drexel with UDel being a solid second and UPenn a pleasant, but long reach.

Right now, I'm not really at all interested in getting a Ph.D, but am entirely interested in furthering my physics education and participating in the Army ROTC to graduate as an officer. I spent three years just doing lots of high school and some college level tutoring after I graduated in 2007 from Dartmouth. Here's my stats.

-PGRE - 600 as of right now. Having corrected the test, with a little memorization, I'll definitely be in the 700 range. Hopefully in 4 months, I can be up into the 800's, but would bank on a 700.
-Physics GPA - 3.1ish with a large variety of classes. I took more courses than I could honestly handle.
-Overall GPA - 3.1ish.
-General GRE - TBD, but I'd expect a high score in the Quantitative as I tutor SAT on a regular basis.
-Research - Senior Honor's Thesis in nanotech


Do I have a shot at Drexel? Will applying to the Masters program make it harder for me to be admitted to grad school? If Drexel is a miss, how does UDel look? I'm honestly not looking for the absolute best program as my education will be what I make of it.

Thanks for any responses!

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:53 pm

I have a friend with a similar profile who got in everywhere he applied for PhDs (which granted did not include any top 40 schools). I don't see any red flags screaming "This guy is a moron", so you should have success getting in somewhere, at least until qualifiers.

Note: I'm only replying here because there isn't much info out about the smaller schools with regional reputations. If you have any specific questions, (a) ask someone at the school, (b) check gradschoolshopper, or (c), do a bit of looking around for yourself.

karstenchu
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:35 am

Re: Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

Postby karstenchu » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:06 pm

I appreciate the response. I'm really not too interested in the rank of my school. Location is really my primary concern as my undergrad was way too far from home and I'm just looking for a way to redeem myself for my lackluster undergrad experience.

Having talked to a professor in graduate admissions at UDelaware, he said that I "didn't have to worry about competing for a slot in the M.S. program." I wasn't sure whether I could breathe a sigh of relief (one of many needed) or not.

Thanks for the recommendations - I've used gradschoolshopper to pick out the local schools I'm applying to. It's a nifty resource.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:12 pm

I guess my point was I was wondering why you weren't applying to PhD programs. It's not like you HAVE to keep going after you get your masters, and if you apply to the PhD programs at these schools you have a good chance of getting into one of them, and thus have at least the option of going for a PhD, and also a better chance of stipend funding (RA's go to PhD students because they're around longer, and TA's go to PhD students because the school likes them more). In my opinion, it's win-win.

EDIT: I guess for posterity I should say that masters programs are MUCH easier to get into, and are a great idea for someone trying to bolster their chances of getting into grad school. And you can get funding for them, but you normally have to pay tuition (which is normally waved for PhD programs). If you have less than a 3.0, or otherwise don't meet PhD program criteria (by say forgetting to take the PGRE), then just apply to masters. Otherwise, apply to PhD programs, a lot of schools will offer you the chance to transfer the application to a masters program if you don't meet their acceptance criteria, and its at a negligible cost to you.

karstenchu
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:35 am

Re: Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

Postby karstenchu » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:19 pm

Oh, I see. Well, I really haven't mustered the drive for a 5-7 year stint in academia yet. It's just not that time for me. I'd also feel bad for giving the idea that I was pursuing a Ph.D when I definitely wasn't. With the Army route, I need to finish in two years and then I have a service contract and a long training school immediately following the two years, so I don't think that's a possibility.

I see your point, though, and have considered it previously. When it came to competitiveness, though, I was under the impression that masters slots were not as competitive as Ph.D slots. My goal here is to get a positive admissions decision ASAP so that I can put together a competitive package for the ROTC program and enter their training program this summer. I'm still missing my PGRE's and those are in April, so I didn't even think I'd be considered for the Ph.D program without PGRE's and April will probably be a bit too late for the ROTC program.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:54 pm

In that case, I'd email wherever you're excited to go, and let them know your ROTC plans. They might mail you an acceptance packet immediately--masters students are a cash cow for graduate-heavy programs, and you have a good profile for what I'd imagine their typical masters applicant is (I'd guess many of your classmates will be professionals doing continuing education classes, or teachers trying to get re-certified).

karstenchu
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:35 am

Re: Masters vs. Ph.D and What are my chances?

Postby karstenchu » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:58 pm

Will do. I'll make this clear. The professor I spoke to told me that I can be admitted quickly but still be considered for any assistantships that remained by the time I took my PGRE's. It will be nice having the possibility for a RA or TA job as a backup if I don't snag one of the coveted scholarships from Uncle Sam.

In the meantime...gotta perfect that personal statement. Thanks for the advice.




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