Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

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thehairupthere
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Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby thehairupthere » Sat Mar 12, 2016 9:18 pm

I'm considering doing a computer science MS with a physics PhD. Anyone on here done this or has a similar experience (e.g. MS in computer science, statistics, maths, etc) that could tell us about? Also, was the university okay with this administratively (and with regards to the fact that funding comes from the physics department?)

TakeruK
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Re: Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby TakeruK » Sun Mar 13, 2016 12:45 am

It depends on the school and the program. At most schools, you will not be able to enroll in a MS program while currently a PhD student.

At my school, they give the option of a Computer Science minor with any PhD program as long as your advisor and program coordinator allow it. You fulfill the minor requirement by taking 4-5 CS courses in a focus area. Your degree and transcript will come with a citation noting that you completed this additional academic program. I know a bunch of people doing this, especially in Machine Learning / Big Data in order to improve job prospects (generally outside of academia).

thehairupthere
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Re: Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby thehairupthere » Sun Mar 13, 2016 7:59 am

TakeruK wrote:It depends on the school and the program. At most schools, you will not be able to enroll in a MS program while currently a PhD student.

I thought by default a PhD in the US includes an MS (in physics) in the first year or two that only has coursework requirements? Is that not true?
TakeruK wrote:At my school, they give the option of a Computer Science minor with any PhD program as long as your advisor and program coordinator allow it. You fulfill the minor requirement by taking 4-5 CS courses in a focus area. Your degree and transcript will come with a citation noting that you completed this additional academic program. I know a bunch of people doing this, especially in Machine Learning / Big Data in order to improve job prospects (generally outside of academia).

Yeah my potential group does machine learning and the whole university is very computationally focused which is why I thought it would be a good idea to study this instead of physics in the first couple of years.

Catria
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Re: Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby Catria » Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:30 am

Carnegie Mellon (is that on your list?) is one of those that make it easy to get X amount of coursework in machine learning or other big-data-relevant computer science subfield and will even, pending conditions, let you claim a MS for it...

thehairupthere
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Re: Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby thehairupthere » Sun Mar 13, 2016 12:01 pm

Catria wrote:Carnegie Mellon (is that on your list?) is one of those that make it easy to get X amount of coursework in machine learning or other big-data-relevant computer science subfield and will even, pending conditions, let you claim a MS for it...


Yes, CMU is actually exactly what I had in mind for this. Glad to hear it's not that hard to do - I wanted to have some opinions here before I ask them just in case what I'm asking is too unheard of.

TakeruK
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Re: Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:13 am

thehairupthere wrote:
TakeruK wrote:It depends on the school and the program. At most schools, you will not be able to enroll in a MS program while currently a PhD student.

I thought by default a PhD in the US includes an MS (in physics) in the first year or two that only has coursework requirements? Is that not true?


No, most US PhD programs do not have a MS program built into them. Instead, the standard physics PhD program in the US usually involves some number of classes in the first two years. In most cases, once you complete these classes, you may be eligible to get a MS degree. But some programs will not allow this either---you only get a MS if you fail out of the PhD program.

The programs that are 1 year of coursework only are terminal MS programs and these are not the same as the MS you get during a PhD program.

While you are in a PhD program, yes you have to take courses in your first year (often first two years) but you don't get to choose whatever courses you want. You must fulfill certain requirements for your PhD program, so most of your courses must be in Physics. Your PhD course requirements may have some electives, which you might choose to be in CS with permission, but then these will count towards your PhD course requirements and you usually cannot "double count" courses (i.e. if you count these CS courses towards a PhD degree, you can't count them towards a MS as well).

thehairupthere
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Re: Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby thehairupthere » Tue Mar 15, 2016 2:01 pm

Having asked, CMU apparently has special programs for this which allow double counting courses towards an MS in CS and a PhD in Physics. I was also told that the department sometimes makes an exemption for core physics courses for this purpose.
https://www.ml.cmu.edu/prospective-stud ... sters.html

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dlenmn
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Re: Anyone done a non-physics MS with a physics PhD?

Postby dlenmn » Mon May 23, 2016 10:19 am

Old thread, but maybe this datum will be useful to someone:

As many have mentioned, it depends on the school. Here at UW-Madison, it's really easy to do. If you're in the PhD program, you're required to do a minor outside your direct area of research. Often, this is done inside the physics department, but you can just as easily do it outside the department. A minor is only four courses (not enough for a MS), but I think that it makes the department receptive to people taking outside classes. I know of people who have picked up MSs in ECE, CS, and math (IIRC). That said, it's really something between you and your advisor. If your advisor is cool with it, then there's no reason the department will take issue. That said, some advisors won't approve. E.g. If you're doing high energy experiment and need to get shipped out to CERN, then your advisor doesn't want you hanging around Madison longer than you have to.

I didn't pick up a minor outside the department, but I did take a bunch of math classes for fun -- some of which ended up being quite useful. It doesn't cost me any money, and one class now and then can be a nice break from research (good for your sanity), so why not? My advisor actually encourages it.




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