Discussion Thread

Pursuing Graduate School in Materials Science

  • 1.  Pursuing Graduate School in Materials Science

    Posted 09-16-2019 04:06 PM
    Hello folks,

    I am entering my senior year in a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering program from Wentworth Institute of Technology. I am interested in pursuing graduate school in materials science but am seeking advice on a few different questions.

    1. Is it better to pursue a Master's or a Doctorate's Degree? Is a Master's required before pursuing a Doctorate's? I have an interest in conducting research and could see myself even possibly teaching at the university level some day.

    2. What is the best way to obtain funding for these programs? Is there any advice regarding finding programs that are fully funded?

    3. Are there any universities in the New England area (preferably Boston) that offer programs that combine construction materials (preferably plastic) with sustainability?

    4. Any additional advice? Because my university is on the smaller side, I am struggling to encounter professors and professionals that have experience in what seems to be a small field!

    Thank you in advance!

    Amanda P. Siciliano, S.M.ASCE
    Wentworth Institute of Technology
    Boston, MA

  • 2.  RE: Pursuing Graduate School in Materials Science

    Posted 09-17-2019 10:47 AM
    Hi Amanda.

    I believe you will need to pursue a masters degree first. I had a colleague recommend to me many years ago to not obtain an undergraduate degree and doctorate degree from the same university. You need a wider view.

    I am not familiar with schools in your area. Many schools will help with funding by offering you research positions or assistant professor positions while you work on your degree. Do your research on the best schools in your preferred area of specialization and then talk to them. Go where the school is, not necessarily where you ultimately want to live. Good luck!!

    Stacey Morris P.E., M.ASCE
    ETI Corporation
    West Memphis AR

  • 3.  RE: Pursuing Graduate School in Materials Science

    Posted 09-18-2019 10:07 AM
    Hi Amanda,

    Good to hear you have a plan of what you want to do. To answer your questions:

    1. I do not think a Master's degree is required to go into a Doctoral program. As for which is better, it's not an objective question and depends a lot on why you want to pursue higher education.

    I will lump 2 and 3 as one question.

    2 & 3.

    (i) If I was looking to go for higher ed, I would start thinking about why I want to do that - what your goal and what you want to achieve through that program. It is a significant commitment (2 - 5 years based on whether its a Master's or a Doctoral program), and having a strong reason usually helps you push through it. And this is usually required as part of your application process (Statement of Purpose/Intent).

    (ii) Do not look for a university based on its overall ranking or reputation or size. Instead look for a program that is involved in research in area of your interest. Contact professors involved in research and let them know you're interested. If  that particular department had good research funding, it is likely that your research might be funded.

    (iii) As for location, I would strongly advise you do not keep it as a hard constraint if possible for two reasons. One - If you move to a new area, it really gives you a new perspective. Two - universities conducting research are usually closer to the related industry geographically (not all the time, but generally true) - so, it will be easier to look for opportunities once you graduate.

    4. As mentioned above, google for recent research articles in area of your interest and try to contact the authors. I would expect most of them would be willing to connect!

    Good luck!!

    Ravi Teja Reddy Tippireddy, A.M.ASCE
    Water Engineer
    Akron, OH

  • 4.  RE: Pursuing Graduate School in Materials Science

    Posted 09-18-2019 07:47 AM
    Hi Amanda,

    In my opinion, pursuing a master's degree (same with PhD) is better because this will broaden your view and enrich your experience aside from doing the research you love, and as far as I know, a master's degree is required before you apply to a PhD.

    As for funding, you may first target universities and their programs and then apply to funding opportunities that are basically provided by those institutes. An application of funding is associated with program application.

    About universities, I suggest you look for top universities and programs online, say, www.topuniversities.com, and choose those near your preferred region. But I, in agreement with Stacey, would recommend that choosing a top program is much more important than choosing locations.

    Finally, applying to a master's degree takes a demanding but rewarding effort.

    Good luck!

    Jiqiu Wang R.Eng, M.ASCE
    Senior Quantity Surveyor
    Shenzhen, China