How common is it for students to take loan in theoretical physics? Theoretical physics and mathematics students are advised not to take loan as there are very few jobs in both fields. I got admitted in a Masters Theoretical Physics(Quantum fields and Strings) program in Uppsala. So far I don’t have a scholarship and I am looking for one. Is taking loan in these two fields always a bad idea?

I am part of a masters student’s thesis committee for the first time in my career, and am unsure what I should be doing be during the question session following the public presentation. I have read the whole document and have made comments about edits and corrections I would like the student to make, and have prepared a list of questions I could ask the student. However, I am unclear on a few things:

  1. What criteria should I use to evaluate the student’s work? What is necessary to consider their work good enough to pass?

  2. If there is a disagreement among committee members, how does that typically get resolved?

  3. What should my goal be with the questions I ask? I am already familiar with the theory and experimental design of the student’s project, and could easily find myself digging into details or trying to test the student’s overall knowledge of the field, but I’m not sure these would be useful ways to spend time. As the most junior person on the committee I expect I will be last, and unsure how much I’m expected to contribute to the examination.

For background, the student is at a different institution than I am, and my department does not have graduate students. We’re both in the same city in the United States. I have talked to the student’s advisor about the project itself, but I haven’t gotten a clear sense of what I should be doing in the exam. The student’s institution only lists administrative requirements for scheduling and submitting documents on their website, and doesn’t seem to provide guidance for the contents of the thesis.

I’m a master’s student, and over the course of my studies I’ve conducted a few independent studies in which I investigate specific research questions that I formulate on my own. Those independent studies have culminated in final papers, and I then use the material in those papers as part of articles I publish and presentations I give at conferences–am trying to build up a public profile on these topics.

Recently, a professor of mine asked to see research I had done for one of those studies, ostensibly to use as background for something the professor was working on. I’m not this professor’s employee or otherwise under contract for a project of the professor’s. I’m conducting independent research during classes that I pay for as part of my degree. The professor is in other words just my adviser and teacher.

I provided the professor my research and presentation materials, and then heard the professor use my work–word for word–in a subsequent presentation. The professor had not sought out my consent before doing this, and I was not cited.

The same professor again asked for a full, unpublished paper I had written to use as background for a different project the professor was undertaking. I declined to provide the paper because I did not know how it would be used (though I didn’t say that).

Am curious about whether this is accepted and/or common practice in academia. And if it is, should I just send my paper to the professor?


Recently I have finished my Masters. My relation with my thesis supervisor is very bad. He is a professor. I am very disappointed with his mentoring. He is very lazy and always kept himself busy in works except researching. I expressed my dissatisfaction toward him directly. That makes him furious on me. I have planned to pursue my Masters degree from university in North America region. Three reference letter are required. I don’t want my thesis supervisor as a referee. Other faculty members in our department are agree to refer me. But will it affect negatively in the admission procedure if I don’t submit any reference letter from my thesis supervisor?

I’m pondering a Masters (thesis) in Computer Engineering after I graduate undergrad. I also have a subject matter I want to research that will probably require a fellowship in order to conduct my Masters.

I want to explore a section of Computer Engineering that I can apply to Sociological and Ethnic studies ( the particulars of what that is isn’t important here ). I have a sociological research institute in mind that is perfect to help my research into what I want to do for my Masters. I want a fellowship in this institute because its the preeminent leader in its field and it intersects perfectly with what my research would be about.

The thing is, I don’t know if they would even take me in the first place. Yes, I have a degree in Sociology but my Masters work is in engineering. Would it be in the norm for a research institute ( especially one in the Social Sciences ) to offer a fellowship to someone who isn’t in their field? I’m going to be a Engineering Master’s student who wants to conduct research in a Social Science field.

Warning: The following are stupid questions. (Read in Kiefer Sutherland’s voice)

Question 1 Is it weird or stupid to apply for a research assistant post at some university or research institute, and not a company in industry, with the purpose to gain research experience to boost profile for graduate studies, and why/why not?

  • I think it could be weird or stupid for the same reason why you shouldn’t mention potential graduate study plans during job interviews.

  • Then again, my understanding of research assistant posts is that they wouldn’t be for long term employment as is the case in industry, say, “research” analyst jobs in industry. Rather research assistant posts are usually on temporary contract. So, yeah, I am just doing this with the intention to apply for a PhD because I’m apparently not yet good enough to get into a PhD program.

  • Based on what I’ve read online, this is the baby version of a postdoc, so postdoc is to faculty applications as research assistant is to PhD applications.

Question 2 Who are the usual applicants of research assistant posts?

  • I can’t think of any applicants for research assistant posts besides people exactly in my situation: wants to go to grad school, is waiting in some process of grad school applications (for the application period to start, for the results of application to come out or, for those already accepted, for the semester to start) or wants to boost profile for grad school. Please enlighten for other cases.

Question 3 What’s the difference between a research assistant post and an internship in industry?

  • I think I recall seeing some research assistant posts that pay as much as a full time job in industry, so I’m guessing research assistant posts are not necessarily simply academic versions of internships in industry. I think things like this are academic versions of internships in industry. But my understanding is that they are both short-term. I guess a research assistant post would be analogous to a temporary contract job in industry.

Question 4 To confirm, if research assistant posts are indeed on temporary contract or short-term, is there indeed a risk for someone to quit their regular full time industry job hoping that a research assistant post will boost their grad school application profile?


  • Since I graduated master’s in 2015-6, I started work as a maths teacher at a branch of a company that is something like Kumon. I guess I haven’t done research there.

  • I’m waiting for results for PhD/MPhil applications for 2018-9. I already got rejected for one (well technically I’m not on the list of applicants who got initially offered admission, so I guess I could still be accepted if others on the list back out), and I think I’ll be rejected for others.

  • For 2019-20 applications, I am thinking to boost my profile by, among others, working as a research assistant, either full time or part time. In the former case, I’ll have to quit my job. In the latter case, I think I can downgrade to part time.

The following are related questions:

How can I improve my research experience for PhD application?

How to boost academic profile for Master's application

How to gain research experience after master program?

If I cannot get sufficient recommendation letters, what can I do?

Watup guys, I am considering attending the Master’s program in Computer Science at Northwestern University and am looking to hear from people that have experience with Northwestern as a graduate institution.

I have heard that there are a lot of resources available to graduate students, and was excited to see the number of cool courses in artificial intelligence that the school offers (this page has some of their past projects)

Has anyone here completed a master’s degree at Northwestern? Is it worth the cost of attendance? I couldn’t find any data on outcomes and job placement after the program, though it does look promising based on my linkedin searches lol.


As an undergrad, I took a wide variety of courses, but focused on one or two fields and took advanced courses only in those, and those fields are my strengths. I intend to do a PhD, but now I’m applying for Master’s programs, and I actually want to focus on the fields that I received little to none education in my undergrad on, and the subjects that I wasn’t very good at. What I want to do for my PhD is more directly related to the subjects I’m stronger at, but a knowledge in those I’m not very strong in would be significantly useful too.

To me, that sounds totally acceptable, since I want to fill in the gaps and learn something new, rather than repeating what I already have a good knowledge on and possibly going a little deeper in it, especially as I took quite a few graduate-level courses in the fields I focused on.

I am wondering if that’s acceptable and sounds reasonable to admission committee and graduate schools too. Given that they probably have applicants who are actually applying for what they have a strong background in, would it make sense for me to compete with them with this justification that I want to improve the weaknesses in my background by throwing myself at those fields and “learn to love them”, or should I just apply for what I’m stronger in and try to improve my knowledge in other fields through self studying?

(Please note that by “field”, I’m actually referring to subfields within a major field. So it’s not that I’ve done Management and I want to study Dance Performance, it’s more like PDEs vs Algebra, which would mean applying to Applied Math vs Pure Math.)