Cornell MEng: stepping stone?

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dfjJamie
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Cornell MEng: stepping stone?

Postby dfjJamie » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:37 pm

There are several posts regarding Cornell AEP's 1 year MEng program, which is sometimes offered as a garnish on rejection letters to PhD applicants. It sounds like it can be a rewarding program, but I haven't heard from anyone who undertook it with the goal of doing a PhD at Cornell afterwards and then actually did one. Anybody?

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HappyQuark
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Re: Cornell MEng: stepping stone?

Postby HappyQuark » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:46 pm

dfjJamie wrote:There are several posts regarding Cornell AEP's 1 year MEng program, which is sometimes offered as a garnish on rejection letters to PhD applicants. It sounds like it can be a rewarding program, but I haven't heard from anyone who undertook it with the goal of doing a PhD at Cornell afterwards and then actually did one. Anybody?


In the physics graduate school profiles for Cornell, noojens posted the following
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1183

noojens wrote:Just thought I'd chip in my two cents:

Cornell's Applied and Engineering Physics department also has a one-year Master of Engineering degree in Engineering Physics. Students who are rejected from the PhD program in Applied Physics are occasionally admitted to the M.Eng. program instead. You'll probably have to pay tuition for the year, but you come out with an engineering master's (from an extremely flexible curriculum - you can take physics core PhD courses or any math/engineering courses you like, and do research with any applied physics/physics/engineering faculty) and a good feel for grad school life at Cornell. Generally 2-3 of the 8-10 students who graduate with AEP M.Eng. degrees stay on for their PhD, either in Applied Physics or Physics. It's a good way to get a foot in the door - as long as you can get A's in the grad physics courses you take.

I actually applied directly to the M.Eng. program, since I was kind of ambivalent about the prospect of spending five years on a physics PhD. I'm glad I did - having taken a mix of physics and engineering grad courses, I've come to realize that I enjoy engineering a lot more. So next year I'll be applying for engineering PhD programs, with a focus on energy and the environment. My applications should be a lot stronger with the Ivy degree, a year of solid research (publication pending!), and a track record in grad classes.

So if you're not 100% sure you want to do a physics PhD, or want to explore the option of transitioning to an engineering field, or just feel like another year of grad classes and research would help you get into your dream school, then Cornell's M.Eng. program might be right for you. Feel free to PM me if you'd like any details.


and

noojens wrote:I'm an alum of the AEP MEng.

Expect to pay about 50k USD total for the year in Ithaca (tuition, rent, books, food, beer, coffee, and a plane ticket home for winter break).

You can maybe do better than that if you work as a TA, but MEng students only make a few thousand a semester as TAs and you'll be pretty damn busy with a heavy course load plus your research project.

I didn't work during my degree, but it's been a year and my debts are just about paid off. This degree can significantly increase your earning power (at least it did for me, but it's probably field- and research-dependent). If you're planning to go straight to a PhD program after the MEng, however, then yes - you'll be saddled with debt for a while.

It's a tough decision, but for what it's worth, I would definitely do it again.

Good luck.



With that said, I'm also considering Cornell's pity acceptance as well so I would gladly welcome any additional input to what was said above.

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HappyQuark
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Re: Cornell MEng: stepping stone?

Postby HappyQuark » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:59 pm

To add to the questions, how precisely does someone fund the roughly $50,000 cost of doing the MEng program? I took out student loans for undergrad but when I did the amount I was getting was precisely the amount of tuition and nothing more. Does it just amount to taking out separate, personal loans and living off that for a year?

bfollinprm
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Re: Cornell MEng: stepping stone?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:43 pm

HappyQuark wrote:To add to the questions, how precisely does someone fund the roughly $50,000 cost of doing the MEng program? I took out student loans for undergrad but when I did the amount I was getting was precisely the amount of tuition and nothing more. Does it just amount to taking out separate, personal loans and living off that for a year?


8500 in stafford loans, plus ~35k in unsubsidized loans (@ 4% interest, that's 41k after graduation) plus ~8k in summer monies (you'd better get a job).
Cornell is cheap, and their PhD stipend is generous, so you might be able to make some of that back during your PhD assuming you stay on.

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grae313
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Re: Cornell MEng: stepping stone?

Postby grae313 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:31 pm

Yup, noojens is the only person I know here who can tell you all about that program (though if there are any others in hiding reading this, please come out). Send him a PM and ask him some questions or link him to this thread and he'll surely be happy to offer his advice, but I don't think he'll stumble upon this thread on his own if you don't alert him.

dfjJamie
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Re: Cornell MEng: stepping stone?

Postby dfjJamie » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:58 am

Thanks grae-- I've sent him a PM. I'll link him to this thread too, if he doesn't see it.
For folks considering this option: any info from the department? I emailed the MEng representative and learned approximately what noojens already posted: it is possible to move into the PhD program, but grades and project play an important role. In particular, he said that the Applied Quantum course functions as a gatekeeper: people hoping to continue at Cornell should plan to get an A- or better. Other relevant info: MEng and PhD courses can overlap, so no time needs to be lost on the PhD if one manages to continue.




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