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Science graduate degrees and career paths: jobs for PhDs and Masters in science | GradschoolShopper

Graduate degrees and career paths (Podcast #2)

Welcome to the GradschoolShopper podcast. In this episode, we explore the different graduate degrees available to you, as well as potential career paths upon graduation.

Our guest, Crystal Bailey, is the Education and Careers Program Manager at the American Physical Society.

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Crystal Bailey, Education and Careers Program Manager at the American Physical Society

Episode topics

  • About the Careers Program at the American Physical Society
  • Graduate degree options in physics, astronomy, and related fields
  • Differences between the various degrees
  • What undergraduates should consider when choosing a graduate degree
  • Profiles of different career paths
  • Learning about market requirements from job postings
  • Advice for selecting a graduate program
  • Advice for undergraduates applying to a graduate program

Episode summary

Crystal is the Education and Careers Program Manager at the American Physical Society.

The Careers Program at the American Physical Society

The APS offers programs that help educate undergraduate students about career prospects in physics. Some of those programs include:

  • Events and meetings, such as “The Future of Physics”
    Career panels, networking opportunities, graduate fairs, etc.
  • APS Careers Website
    Statistics about physics career information plus showcase of different projects.
  • APS Webinar Series
    Free webinars focused on professional development.

Graduate degree options in physics, astronomy, and related fields

There are a variety of paths available to students:

You can find a wide range of these degrees and others by searching through the GradschoolShopper.com database.

Find your PhD Graduate Program through GradschoolShopper.com:

Differences between the various degrees

Let’s imagine that Company X employs all three degree types — bachelor’s, master’s and PhDs. In this scenario:

  • Bachelor’s degree holders could do something technical, like work on programming code, modelling, etc.
  • Master’s degree holders could manage the group of bachelor’s who work on the technical aspects, offer guidance, and report to upper management.
  • PhD degree holders could work in the innovative research and development (R&D) department.

What undergraduates should Consider when choosing a graduate degree

This really depends on the kind of work you see yourself doing. A PhD degree is a big commitment, and one that is very useful if you want a career in research. Note that if you want to work in R&D, you often need to have a PhD. You can still work in technical areas with a master’s degree, but you may be limited to administrative and managerial positions.

Keep in mind that your earning power increases as you pursue higher degrees of education. For example, master’s degree holders earn more than bachelor’s, and PhD’s earn more than Master’s.

Profiles of different career paths

The APS Careers website has a number of resources that show students available career paths through the various types of degrees. The Webinar Series features approximately 25 profiles for professionals who hold physics or astronomy degrees, but work in less traditional jobs. These physicists, not all with PhDs, work in a variety of innovative disciplines. You can learn about their career paths, where they come from, and what their challenges are.

Patent Law, for example, offers untapped opportunities for physics PhD holders. Recently, financial corporations on Wall Street have begun recruiting PhDs as risk analysts with a background in statistics.

Learning about market requirements from job postings

The APS has partnered with PhysicsToday, IEEE Computing, Society of Physics Students, AAPM, AAPT, and others to create a comprehensive job database.

Searching through the jobs listed here can help you tailor your graduate program search in order to best prepare for a career in your chosen field of interest.

Advice for selecting a graduate program

You want to be at a school where you’re going to be happy, because this will facilitate your ability to finish your degree. Choose locations and programs that offer a work-life balance in order to maximize your potential for success.

Advice for undergraduates applying to a graduate program

Apply to as many schools as you possibly can. Maintain your focus but cast a wide net in order to increase your choices when it comes time to accepting offers. Be sure to research the specific characteristics of each program, such as degree length, faculty, class sizes, fellowship opportunities, research specialties etc. as these factors may drastically influence your decision.

Start your search today at the GradschoolShopper.com website.

I CAN HAZ HINT!

Are you at PhysCon2012? You want to solve our awesome anagram challenge? Here’s a hint for you:

This man’s hypothesis is so famous, physics students learn it in basic Quantum Mechanics class.

Look for more hints and solve our anagram online!

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Advice to Students

Physics can be hard, and you spend a lot of time doing homework, preparing for the GRE, etc. But do some activities that remind you why you love it, and keep you enthusiastic about what you’re studying. — Kendra Redmond, Program Coordinator and Assistant Editor, Society of Physics Students, Podcast Episode #1

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