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Best path to Master or Phd in US.

Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
I want to know which path would be easier for getting the master and phd in US at a top university (HYPSM, Caltech, Columbia, etc...).
First:
I study in UK at one of the following universities: UCL, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol, or Southampton. I take either my Bsc or Msci in geosciences (geophysics to be more exact) and then I apply for master in US. I don't know if taking a Msci would be truly beneficial or just one year lost if I want to do my master in US...
Second:
I study (geosciences) in US at one of the following: Swarthmore, Colby, or Carleton. After I finish I apply for master in US.

Replies to: Best path to Master or Phd in US.

  • YnotgoYnotgo Registered User Posts: 3,529 Senior Member
    If your end goal is to get a PhD in the US, you would not normally get a Masters at one US university and then a PhD at another university. In the sciences, it is normal to apply to a PhD program after the BS degree (or its equivalent in the UK).

    After about 2 years in a sciences PhD program in the US, it is typical to do an "advancement to candidacy" after which point one is considered to have completed the Masters requirement and can get a piece of paper for that if desired.

    Note that this is not necessarily the case in fields where a Masters is particularly useful for jobs in industry, such as computer science and engineering. Depending on your subfield in geosciences, a Masters may be useful on its own (for example, in fields like oil exploration).
  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    I want to continue on geophysics, more exactly on exogeophysics and I want to do research.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 9,793 Senior Member
    At American LACs typically you'd start specializing later than you would at a UK university.
    In that respect the path may be easier in the UK, provided your most important goal is to advance as quickly as possible in your primary field. Whether that's the best approach for you is another question.

    I doubt there is much data available to compare those 5 UK universities with those 3 LACs for academic outcomes in geosciences at American grad schools.
  • xraymancsxraymancs College Rep Posts: 4,262 Senior Member
    The first step is to get your B.Sc. and try to obtain as much research experience as possible during that time. Once you are in your final year, you take the GRE exam and the apply to schools that have good programs in the area you are interested in specializing. Note this are not necessarily the schools you mention in your original post. It is not guaranteed that those universities have graduate programs in the field you have chosen not is is guaranteed that they have the best programs even if they have a program.

    The key is to get into the program that best fits your interests and that you are qualified for. Ultimately, your Ph.D. advisor is more important than having a Ph.D. from one of the universities you mention. I am at Illinois Tech in physics and while it is not "ranked" very high for its physics program in the US News popularity poll, my students have no trouble getting good jobs after the Ph.D. Remember that for the most part the graduate rankings are simply a popularity poll of Department Chairs and Graduate Program Directors. We get a list of hundreds of schools and we only know of the quality of a few of them. It is certainly not a very accurate way to "rank".
  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    But for UK I have to choose if I want to do a Bsc or a Msci. At first it seemed obvious to me that I should take the Msci because it is more advanced. But then I discovered that Msci is kind of a Bsc combined with an accelerated Msc. That's when I've started wondering if it was worth it, since I would want to do my Master in US. If I do my Msci and then mt master in US it seems like I am repeating my master.

    xraymancs, You said that first I should get my Bsc. Were you referring to the US or UK bsc ? Or any of them? If you were talking about the UK then I can infer that I shouldn't choose the Msci.

    tk21769, From what you've said I conclude that choosing UK is the better option, because I want to specialize as much and as fast as possible. But, if I want my master/phd in US, wouldn't be harder for me o get there from a UK university? You might ask: Why do you want to go in US? Well, I've heard that there are much more and better opportunities for research in geophysics in US.

    Ynotgo, ''In the sciences, it is normal to apply to a PhD program after the BS degree '' Wow ! Really? No master required?

    Sorry if I sound confusing, because I actually am a bit :/.
  • xraymancsxraymancs College Rep Posts: 4,262 Senior Member
    Yes, I meant the UK degree.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,912 Senior Member
    An issue is that your UK degree may not include enough research experience to apply to the PHD in the US unless you do the MSci. In addition, letters of recommendation are very important so establish whether you'll have a sustained relationship with a professor-mentor or not. So, either choose a LAC (where all students who want it can get research experience and are well-known to their professors) or choose a program where you'll get a lotnof contact and research experience in the UK.
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,524 Senior Member
    Yes, going from a US BS to a US PhD program is normal. One earns a Master's at a halfway point after passing exams and moves on to the research phase.
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