I applied to hep-th this year but only got an offer from Stony Brook Master program, and I'm not sure if it's worthy to pay the 40k per year for this Master degree. Would someone be willing to share your experience reapplying PhD after getting a Master degree? Has anyone successfully got admitted to top 10 hep-th program with a Master degree (especially from Stony Brook)? Given the large number of PhD students already I think professors may not even consider students in master program to participate in their research?
Also I don't have a stellar GPA (3.5 overall, 3.8 in major) and I am wondering if a high Master GPA would be able to compensate this? I saw quite a few rejections on grad cafe with high Master GPA but poor undergrad records, so can I assume committees value undergrad performance more? Thanks!