MS/MSc (Master's) in physics after engineering: India or Abroad?
After a B.tech degree in engineering, if you are interested in switching to physics, you often face the dilemma of whether to look for a master's degree in physics and whether you should do it in India or abroad. In this article, I would try to mention a few advantages and disadvantages of going for these the options.
Going for a terminal Master's Degree (MS/MSc)
I did mechanical engineering in my undergrad and shifted to physics by first getting a master's degree in physics, MSc physics from IIT Bombay. So unsurprisingly, I would vouch for this option.
The key advantage this option offers is that you can basically try out physics for two years. It allows you to study advanced level physics and get a feel for whether you truly like the subject or you are just fascinated by popular science stuff shown on television shows. Believe me, real physics research vastly differs from what you see in Discovery or Nat Geo shows (and it has more than astrophysics). And if you don't like it, it ends after two years and you do not have to continue further.
If you want to first get some physics experience and have made your mind to pursue a PhD in physics abroad, then the MS/MSc physics degree would give a significant boost to your PhD applications since the applications often require physics coursework which we B.tech graduates severely lack.
The research experience you would gain in your master's degree in addition to the interaction with other physics students/professors would help you in getting exposed to more physics research than you would have known after your engineering, and this would give you a much clearer perspective of what is interesting to be pursued in a PhD and would also make your applications better. Not to mention the fact that you would definitely perform better in Indian PhD entrance exams with master's level courses.
MS/MSc in India or Abroad?
For a master's degree in physics, considering the fact that a future career in physics (PhD, Postdoc) is not that lucrative monetarily, it makes sense to not spend too much money on your master's degree (unless you are super rich). And in that case, a master's degree in India would be a much better option.
Keep in mind that in most top US universities, terminal MS programs are not even offered and all you can apply for is an integrated MS PhD program. And in the few american universities that offer MS in physics, it is quite expensive and getting a scholarship is pretty hard. In Europe, there are programs which are less expensive and even offer scholarship sometimes (look up the institutes online), but the cost of living and other things catch up soon to make things expensive.
On the other hand, Indian universities tend to be much lighter on the pocket. Also, if your aim is to go for a PhD later, the Indian institutes would be no less in giving you the required platform. You would get the standard master's level coursework, and in a good Indian university, you would find plenty of good professors to do research under. So an MS in India is a really good option, especially in one of the top IITs or other central and state universities apart from the IITs (which too are really good).
If you want to read about my journey into physics after engineering, you can read about it here: My Journey into Physics After Engineering -Vaibhav Sharma
If you have more questions, you can reach me here in comments or on
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About the author:
Mr. Vaibhav Sharma is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in the prestigious Cornell University, an ivy league university which is the 14th best university in the world and is among the top 10 universities in the USA!!
The fact that he once was an engineering grad like the readers of the blog should give us all enough hope and assurance to pursue our passion for physics after engineering.