Choose Msc Study Physics Postgraduate Eth Vs Cambridge Watch

jamesngaichuntat
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Hi everyone. I'm aiming to study PhD in quantum physics related area. I recently got offers from Cambridge Physics Mast and Eth Zurich Msc, Don't know which one is better? Any ideas? My ultimate goal is to get funding or fixed income so that I don't have to pay for PhD as I'm an international student. Thanks everyone.

In terms of career prospect, school fee, campus life, course structure etc.
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Zefiros
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I had MSc offers in (Maths and) Computer Science from ETH and Oxford last year. I eventually went for Oxford and recently got accepted for a PhD there. Some of my considerations will probably apply to you as well.

- Finances: Tuition at ETH is so cheap it is virtually free. Zurich is expensive, but Oxbridge (although Oxford more than Cambridge) not much less.

- Duration: Both courses have the number of credits (1 year including summer, or 1,5 years excluding summer). However, the 1,5 years excluding summer allows you to apply for PhDs after a year of studies, rather than after two or three months. I personally found this a huge drawback. I ended up only applying to Oxford (even before getting the first results). If I had not gotten in there, I might have had to take a year out. Many of my course mates are taking a year out and in many cases the awkward timing of the course was a factor.

- Rigour of the course: Although ETH is a top university, its courses are probably less rigorous course than the Oxbridge equivalents. This follows from the fact that any Swiss undergrad can continue to ETH masters without additional requirements, whereas in Oxbridge even Oxbridge or UK undergrads usually have to have a 2:1 or a 1st or something. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you might have more to learn in Oxbridge. On the other hand, standing out might be more difficult there. I found it hard to estimate how this choice would impact my PhD applications later on.

- Social life: In Oxbridge you can live in the close-knitted community a college is. Everything you could possibly need is within walking distance. This is very different for ETH. In Zurich you might have to live outside of the city if you want affordable housing. Socialising is very well possible, but less natural than in Oxbridge.

Good luck with the decision! You can't go wrong anyway.
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jamesngaichuntat
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Hi zefiros,
Thanks for your reply. I initially preferred Eth more because I thought it would aid me in getting into Eth phd easier in the future. My main concern is the phd funding. I'm very sure Cambridge can offer top education, but I would not consider proceeding if I need to pay for the phd. In terms of academic atmosphere, I thought Eth have a very competitive studying environment just as Oxbridge. And you are right, studying in Cambridge probably means harder to stand out from the crowd. Would you think studying in Cambridge would be easier for getting funding in the future ?
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Zefiros
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That is also something I considered.

ETH is without a doubt competitive and rigorous. Some of the world's best students go there, same for Cambridge. However, realistically, in ETH half (it was for CS) of the students will be Swiss students that may or not be very good. Since those people also need to make it to the finish line, I think it is unlikely that ETH's courses will be of the same standard as Cambridge's. (I do think ETH is more industry oriented than Oxbridge, which may not hurt if you want to go into industry after your PhD.)

It is much easier to stay on at your masters institution for a PhD than it is to successfully apply from outside. If you would prefer to do a PhD in ETH rather than a PhD in Cambridge, you should seriously consider going to ETH. I am not sure how the funding position in ETH compares to the UK, but I do know they pay more than three times as much as the standard UK PhD stipend.

If you do really well in Cambridge, you could probably get into any European PhD program, so that is a huge plus. (By getting in, I mean getting a fully funded place.) You would have to make a trade-off based on how well you expect to do in both institutions and the reputation of the unis. Being in the top of the class in either institution would be great, but in Cambridge it would be slightly more impressive, yet it is probably easier to achieve in ETH. And I have no idea what impresses people more: top in ETH or subtop in Cambridge (e.g.)

Seriously, both are great institutions in your field. I honestly don't think it will make much of a difference in the long run, but I understand that you want to make the best decision now. I took the leap of faith in the end, by going to Oxford because it would stretch me more.
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jamesngaichuntat
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Hi Zefiros,
Great thanks for your advice. Knowing that Cambridge Mast Physics has a nasty reputation for the Comprehensive paper that would hugely disadvantage outsiders, I think I might stick with ETH.
There are other advantages like learning new culture from a new place. Anyway, I want to ask if you have any idea what I could do after 1.5 years of Msc?
"Quote
However, the 1,5 years excluding summer allows you to apply for PhDs after a year of studies, rather than after two or three months. I personally found this a huge drawback"

I have considered about this problem too. Any suggestion ?
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Zefiros
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Of course, the drawback is that ETH finishes in January or February or something. Not all universities allow you to start half-way through the academic year, but some do. Some may require you to apply for Fall 2016 if you want to start in Spring 2017, but others will have a different timeline for Spring admissions. Usually, most funding is available for the Fall timeline. You will have to inquire at specific programmes about this.

Still, I think the ETH timeline is more convenient than the Cambridge one. In ETH you either apply three or four months in, or apply after more than a year and take half a year out. In Cambridge you would have to apply two or three months in, or the year after and take a full year out.

I would recommend to apply after a year. This allows you to focus on you work for the first year, develop your ideas for a research proposal, and you will have a full year of results to show. Maybe you could apply to ETH during your first year, though, like what I did in Oxford. That's not ideal, but you may prefer it to taking a year out. Also, some ETH departments accept applications throughout the year, which may allow you to apply during spring and possibly start directly after you finish your MSc. There's plenty of possibilities anyway. You just have to find what suits you.
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jamesngaichuntat
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(Original post by Zefiros)
Of course, the drawback is that ETH finishes in January or February or something. Not all universities allow you to start half-way through the academic year, but some do. Some may require you to apply for Fall 2016 if you want to start in Spring 2017, but others will have a different timeline for Spring admissions. Usually, most funding is available for the Fall timeline. You will have to inquire at specific programmes about this.

Still, I think the ETH timeline is more convenient than the Cambridge one. In ETH you either apply three or four months in, or apply after more than a year and take half a year out. In Cambridge you would have to apply two or three months in, or the year after and take a full year out.

I would recommend to apply after a year. This allows you to focus on you work for the first year, develop your ideas for a research proposal, and you will have a full year of results to show. Maybe you could apply to ETH during your first year, though, like what I did in Oxford. That's not ideal, but you may prefer it to taking a year out. Also, some ETH departments accept applications throughout the year, which may allow you to apply during spring and possibly start directly after you finish your MSc. There's plenty of possibilities anyway. You just have to find what suits you.
Yes. I feel like cambridge timeline is too tight. It's hard to apply PhD with such schedule.
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Josb
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(Original post by Zefiros)
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(Original post by jamesngaichuntat)
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PhD stipends at ETH are about CHF50,000 (£34,329). :eek3:

...and CHF90,000 for postdocs (£61,792). :eek4:


https://www.ethz.ch/en/the-eth-zuric...ry/salary.html
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Zefiros
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(Original post by Josb)
PhD stipends at ETH are about CHF50,000 (£34,329). :eek3:

...and CHF90,000 for postdocs (£61,792). :eek4:


https://www.ethz.ch/en/the-eth-zuric...ry/salary.html
I know, although I have heard people about PhD stipends of 70.000 CHF as well.

This topic is about masters, though.
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jamesngaichuntat
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(Original post by Zefiros)
I know, although I have heard people about PhD stipends of 70.000 CHF as well.

This topic is about masters, though.
My aim is to do a PhD lol. Thanks for all the useful information!
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