Second Master's degree in Physics

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P-representation
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:56 am

Second Master's degree in Physics

Postby P-representation » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:46 pm

I know everyone is really busy with all these results coming out! So far, unfortunately all I have been receiving are rejections :cry: . I wonder if I should try to get a second master's degree in physics to make my application stronger the next time.

A little background about me: I am graduating from a prestigious international university with a Master's degree in physics. I have a pretty high GPA by my university's standards (top 2%) and am also the top student in my department. I have also been doing research projects during my summers for 3 past years (two summers at some pretty good labs abroad) and have got my name on some publications as well.

I thought I had a competitive profile to get into top 20 or even top 10 programs in the US (based on feedback from my seniors at top 10 schools in the US), so I am honestly a bit surprised at all the rejections I have been getting. Come to think of it there's not much setting me apart from many other international students applying to top 10 schools in terms of having a good gpa (I might be slightly lower here) and research projects and publications. I don't want to give up on getting into a prestigious graduate program just yet.

I'm considering getting a second master's degree from a school in either Canada or Europe. Hopefully, I'll improve my profile by getting about a year or more of research experience in my area of interest - quantum information (possibly some more publications too).

I am slightly concerned about how graduate schools would view this though. I don't think it is very common for students to get a second master's degree in the same field, especially when my undergraduate record is not really bad. But say that I do manage to do some good work during my master's degree and get some good recs as well, would it significantly boost of chances of getting into a top graduate program considering that by then I will have roughly 4-5 years of research experience compared to 2-3 of the other candidates? I don't want to stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Also for admissions to Canada, am I too late to apply for funding for this year (fall '13). The application deadlines are still a few weeks away at some places.
Last edited by P-representation on Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

P-representation
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:56 am

Re: Second Master's degree in Physics

Postby P-representation » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:51 am

Replies anyone? :?:

DanMarcy
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:23 pm

Re: Second Master's degree in Physics

Postby DanMarcy » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:42 pm

Don't do it. A Master's degree is almost a stain on your application by itself when applying to the states. 2 Master's degrees? Forget about it. Your application would certainly be much weaker. It'd be better to find a job, gain some work experience, then try again next year. I did it, and it worked for me.

edit: I will eventually post my profile in the 2013 applicants thread. I'm hoping my post will be helpful to people who might be in the situation I was in last year.

P-representation
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:56 am

Re: Second Master's degree in Physics

Postby P-representation » Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:31 pm

I think you have a point about not getting two master's degrees in Physics. I guess it might just make it look like my original degree was worthless. The only reason I wanted it was because research related jobs in experimental physics are really rare in my country so there's not much I can do sitting around here for another year other than get out another 4th or 5th author publication :( I was hoping that spending some time abroad would be really useful. Anyways, if not the USA there's always Europe.

Thanks for your help, I am eager to look at your profile :) . Congratulations once again :D
Last edited by P-representation on Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Second Master's degree in Physics

Postby TakeruK » Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:27 pm

Is your profile on the 2013 thread? It might give some more info.

What kind of masters degree is it? Is it similar to a Masters in Canada (i.e. you finish your 4-year bachelors and then did a ~2 year Masters) or is it more like the Europe/UK/Australia masters (i.e. you do your undergrad with a few extra requirements and a research project, all finished in 4-5 years)?

If it's the former, then you shouldn't apply to another masters program! I know many schools in Canada won't even accept you for a MSc in Physics if you already have a MSc in Physics anywhere else (similarly, most schools won't accept anyone with a PhD in any other field). If it's the latter, then most Canadian schools might view it as an extended Honours BSc degree and it might then be useful to do a MSc elsewhere.

To answer your question about funding, you don't apply for funding separately for Physics programs in Canada. You just apply to the program and they find funding for you. Since you are probably not eligible for most Canadian graduate fellowships (most of them are Canadian-only), your funding will almost fully come from internal awards, TAing, and RAing. For most schools, the department will take as many students as people are willing to fund and then apply on your behalf to internal awards. But getting these awards doesn't change your funding status, it just moves the source of money around. All major Canadian physics programs publish their funding levels online.

In addition, I think the provincial level grad fellowships are available to international students (but the fraction awarded is very low). The requirement though, I think, is to be enrolled at the school so that is something you can apply to after you get there. Winning one of these fellowships will generally give you a small bonus (most of the fellowship will replace internal funding) and reduce your TA load (and thus TA funding).

However, as an international student, you represent a larger cost to your supervisor and/or the department. It costs them about twice as much to pay for you than it would cost for them to get a domestic student. In addition, since usually professors make the "hiring decision" and they can choose whomever they want, it almost works like "rolling admissions" at some schools. That is, instead of a committee picking out the best candidates and admitting them, what could happen is that a committee exists to screen out candidates that meet some minimum and the applications are forwarded to profs who are in the candidate's research area. Each prof then decides whether or not they want to take that student. So, if a really strong student applies early, they might get an offer before the application deadline is even finished. Likewise, if a strong student applies late and the prof hasn't found a good student yet for this year, that prof might still accept you. Of course, since the department is paying a large chunk of the funding, the prof still negotiates/clears each decision with the committee -- i.e. the committee would want to make sure grad students are optimally distributed between fields and that mostly the best candidates get in. However, overall, I feel like it's more of a "hiring process" where you just need to be a really good fit with a certain prof or two instead of necessarily needing to be the very best in the candidate pool.

P-representation
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:56 am

Re: Second Master's degree in Physics

Postby P-representation » Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:29 pm

Thanks for your detailed info about funding opportunities in Canada. I was also thinking of applying to external agencies like MITACS (I was offered an internship in Montreal last summer) which offer international graduate scholarships.

Regarding my profile, a quick summary: GRE: 163/169/4.5/990, GPA ~ 3.55 and 1 internship in Europe (no publications)
Funnily, just after writing my post I found out that I was accepted by a university in the UK for my Ph.D, so it might not be necessary after all!. I guess I'll just have to wait on fellowships to see if I can afford it.
Last edited by P-representation on Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Second Master's degree in Physics

Postby TakeruK » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:31 pm

Right -- MITACS is a good agency to apply to as well!

It sounds like your current education is ideal actually. The top Canadian grad schools expect a 4 year honours BSc, which many students complete in 5 years (either because of taking a year to do research or having to work during school to pay tuition etc.) so a 3 year BSc alone is iffy. If you were a domestic Canadian student, your described profile would probably get you in almost all Canadian grad programs (if you convert the Indian style GPA to the more forgiving Canadian one). But it sounds like you will be able to have other options! Congratulations!!




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