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MBA v. MS physics v. Do Both

bbstern92bbstern92 Registered User Posts: 22 Junior Member
I am a senior and will be earning my BS in accounting (3.95 GPA). My college is encouraging me to attend graduate school. Accounting was not something I did out of interest, although I found out I am pretty decent at it. I told myself if I went to graduate school I would choose something I am interested in, but an MBA is very enticing because of the career opportunities, available. If I did the MBA (after getting some work experience) I would go to a different university, that offers a better program and accreditation. As far as personal interest I am attracted to my current schools MS in applied physics, specifically materials science/nanotechnology. I imagine I could do both- MBA full-time and MS part-time. I was also positing that having a technical background could open doors to specific roles, where management is required to have technical aptitude.

Replies to: MBA v. MS physics v. Do Both

  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 711 Member
    edited June 2018
    Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

    Your math skills can open many doors. It sounds like applied physics has captured some interest and that the MBA is the traditional route to making more money.

    Is your real goal more income directed or do you want to explore the science world a little more? How much physics have you had in college? What attracts you to it? Will your college pay for your MS tuition and a stipend to study applied physics? You can always pick up an MBA later.

    Being able to do something is not the same as contracting the infection of a real subject interest. If the MS or MBA programs are challenging you might want to take one subject at a time. Every street corner offers an MBA program. These are choices you can make before you are locked into a career.
  • bbstern92bbstern92 Registered User Posts: 22 Junior Member
    I am in Calculus now, no physics courses. As far as a stipend, my school makes you compete for 2-3 spots to get a $12,000 scholarship/stipend, so no. Based on my BS, I speculate the MBA to not be hard, at least compared to physics, just need to put in the time. Unfortunately, the real world does not allow interest-based education, or that is my personal view of the purpose of college. We are free to study whatever we want, but we then have to be prepared to accept the future effects of that choice. I will be able to find work with my accounting degree, but for guaranteed advancement you really do need an MBA. I am trying to rationalize, that a MS in physics supported by my BS in accounting would allow some flexibility in that statement.
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 711 Member
    Most BS programs in physics have two years of calculus followed by a year of linear algebra as well as two years of calculus based physics. I don't know what level this MS applied physics program is shooting for.

    Are you graduating this June? Are you able to take one semester of serious college physics before graduation?.

    It can be true that a technical background of some kind can broaden you marketability as an MBA when looking for employment with technically directed companies. You may not need a full MS but some coursework might make you more conversant from an employment perspective.
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,582 Forum Champion
    The entrance requirements for a MS in any kind of physics requires more than just two semesters of Calculus-based physics. That is only the start. At a minimum, you would need to take remedial courses in Junior/Senior level Classical Mechanics, Electrodynamics, Statistical Mechanics, and Quantum Mechanics. yes it is possible but these remedial courses will take some time.
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 711 Member
    Who said two semesters? The basics are two years or four semesters of calculus based physics. These are the foundation courses, not the entire physics major program. OP should at least sample the basic foundation material. It is more than just math.

    @bbstern92 hypothesis: True interest in a subject drives to better results and a happier work environment. The soil is nourished by a love of farming.

    Be skeptical of a Physics program which does not delve into the meat of the matter.

    There are students who are driven to self-study. How about some reading on your own with a good basic physics text as used by a standard physics major. Try the first semester text. Go for a used text. In a STEM school these are freshman/sophomore courses.
  • bbstern92bbstern92 Registered User Posts: 22 Junior Member
    I would go into the MS understanding I would need to take 12-20 credits in basic STEM. I am graduating May 2019 and would be able to complete a semester's worth of those credits, if I include the summer. I have a meeting with the Department Head this week to get a detailed overview and to discuss the same question I have asked here.
  • BeaudreauBeaudreau Registered User Posts: 1,102 Senior Member
    I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but I think you likely will need more than 12-20 credits of basic STEM classes to get admitted and to do well in a MS program, especially if you plan on doing it while you are getting an MBA. 12-20 STEM credits would basically get you to freshman level for engineering or physics. My son is heading off to graduate school for a PhD in Aerospace Engineering. He took 18 credits of AP math and chemistry out of high school, then 92 credits worth of STEM classes undergraduate. In his PhD specialty, some of the students will actually earn degrees in applied physics.

    Applied physics is kind of a hybrid physics/engineering degree. Some schools call their programs engineering science. Some schools require and many recommend taking the GRE physics exam to establish competency in undergraduate physics. Even if not required, I would recommend in your case that you prepare for and take this test. It's not a trivial exam; here's the outline, including the expected math competency: https://www.ets.org/gre/subject/about/content/physics If you can't do well on it, you will likely not do well in an applied physics MS program.

    My son considered applying to an applied physics PhD program. It required the physics GRE. He looked at the outline and decided he could not do well in it without taking 3-4 more physics courses above all the STEM classes that he had already taken.

    Good luck to you!
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,582 Forum Champion
    edited June 2018
    @retiredfarmer - I said, because I have admitted students into our MS Physics program who have not had a physics degree. This is the bare minimum of remedial work for admission. What they have to take after that is another story.

    @bbstern92 - You need more than basic STEM. Please see my previous post. Those courses are beyond 3 semesters of Calculus-based General Physics and 4 semesters of Calculus and are a minimum.
  • bbstern92bbstern92 Registered User Posts: 22 Junior Member
    Yes, I am wrong. After taking another look I see at least 7 courses I would need to do, plus Calc 2/3. I will find out exactly what is required in my meeting. Thank you for that link. I will find out if it makes sense and what the time line would be.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,572 Senior Member
    Back in the last century, I picked up the correct coursework to apply to grad school in a field completely unrelated to my undergrad program by enrolling first as a "senior transfer" then as a "non-degree grad student" at my home state public U. I have friends and family who did similar things to change fields. Managing it successfully requires careful attention to requirements and course sequences in order to fit things in. Ultimately, I earned about 30 new undergrad credits, and about 15 grad credits over the course of three semesters and a summer session before applying to the grad program that I eventually completed.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,616 Super Moderator
    Graduate school, generally speaking, is preparation for a career or a specific set of careers. Of course your selection can be driven by interest, but the point of getting a graduate degree is to prepare you to work in an area in which you are interested (and give you a credential you need to do that). Not that people don't get degrees - master's and doctoral - simply out of intellectual curiosity without an eye to career benefit...but that's kind of a pursuit if you have a lot of time and money on your hands, like if you're independently wealthy or something.

    With that said, are you planning a career in applied physics? What are you trying to achieve in your career?

    First of all, you shouldn't attend graduate school just because your college is encouraging you. Lots of colleges encourage their students to do this - for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is because high graduate school attendance numbers look good in their admissions report. You should attend because you have a desire to for some reason - ideally career preparation, but at least a personal interest in deepening your knowledge in a particular area.

    Secondly, while it is theoretically possible to do an MBA full-time while doing an MS part-time, this sounds like a bad idea. Much of the benefit of an MBA (networking, case projects, interning) happens outside of the classroom, and you need to allow yourself the space and time to do that. Moreover, it's likely that most of them will have mostly daytime classes, and trying to align your schedules will be difficult. If you want to do both, you should either try to do a joint program or just do them consecutively.
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