If I have a "useful" BSc, does it matter what I do for MSc?

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SunlethSky
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So this question probably requires a bit of context, but that is the gist of it.

I'm on an Astrophysics degree right now, set to graduate next year, on track for a decent grade. It's not bad, but it's definitely worn my interest away with time. Nevertheless, I know it's considered a "respected" degree that I could use for jobs in stuff like finance or teaching.

However while thinking about what to do for MSc, I remembered really wanting to do Marine Biology when first applying for my undergrad. I gave up the idea because I figured it wouldn't really get me anywhere, even if it would've made me a lot happier.

But now I'll have a "useful" degree to fall back on, right? So if I wanted to use my MSc on something that's less useful but interests me way more, am I at any sort of disadvantage for having a less useful MSc?

Useful is of course relative to your aim. I'd like to make a career out of Marine Bio, but with competition as fierce as it is I can't bet on it per se. That's why I'm curious if it would undermine a more widely considered useful BSc.

TLDR: Having gone through a STEM undergrad, if I now decide to follow my passion rather than what is economical, will it have any sort of bearing on my BSc?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by SunlethSky)
So this question probably requires a bit of context, but that is the gist of it.

I'm on an Astrophysics degree right now, set to graduate next year, on track for a decent grade. It's not bad, but it's definitely worn my interest away with time. Nevertheless, I know it's considered a "respected" degree that I could use for jobs in stuff like finance or teaching.

However while thinking about what to do for MSc, I remembered really wanting to do Marine Biology when first applying for my undergrad. I gave up the idea because I figured it wouldn't really get me anywhere, even if it would've made me a lot happier.

But now I'll have a "useful" degree to fall back on, right? So if I wanted to use my MSc on something that's less useful but interests me way more, am I at any sort of disadvantage for having a less useful MSc?

Useful is of course relative to your aim. I'd like to make a career out of Marine Bio, but with competition as fierce as it is I can't bet on it per se. That's why I'm curious if it would undermine a more widely considered useful BSc.

TLDR: Having gone through a STEM undergrad, if I now decide to follow my passion rather than what is economical, will it have any sort of bearing on my BSc?
Who are you worried about judging you? If it's just your parents and friends, then you just decide if you want to live a live you want or the life they want.

If it's future Astrophysics, teaching or finance employers, they are going to wonder why tf you wandered off into something completely different at this point in your life, and they might wonder about your motivations.

If it's MSc Marine Biology admissions staff, you've got to convince them you've got enough background to be successful in the programme.

If it's Marine Biology employers and you've passed the MSc, you've also go to show them that you've got the same hundreds and hundreds of hours volunteering experience/commitment that your competitors will have. They won't give a fig about your first degree, apart from the fact it's irrelevant.

Neither of those degrees lead to careers that will be sympathetic to messing about in a completely different area of work. You aren't going to pick up in the same place with an astrophysics career, or a finance career, or a marine biology career if you step out and pursue the alternative career for a few years. You will always drop back to the beginning and have to start again. Teaching might be slightly more forgiving.
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SunlethSky
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Who are you worried about judging you? If it's just your parents and friends, then you just decide if you want to live a live you want or the life they want.

If it's future Astrophysics, teaching or finance employers, they are going to wonder why tf you wandered off into something completely different at this point in your life, and they might wonder about your motivations.

If it's MSc Marine Biology admissions staff, you've got to convince them you've got enough background to be successful in the programme.

If it's Marine Biology employers and you've passed the MSc, you've also go to show them that you've got the same hundreds and hundreds of hours volunteering experience/commitment that your competitors will have. They won't give a fig about your first degree, apart from the fact it's irrelevant.

Neither of those degrees lead to careers that will be sympathetic to messing about in a completely different area of work. You aren't going to pick up in the same place with an astrophysics career, or a finance career, or a marine biology career if you step out and pursue the alternative career for a few years. You will always drop back to the beginning and have to start again. Teaching might be slightly more forgiving.
I think when I say I'm concerned about judgment it's mostly more "what doors that my BSc opened will an MSc in Marine Bio close", more than anything.

Obviously if I don't do an MSc in Physics I shouldn't expect to do jobs related to it; there are jobs like finance that use its transferable skills I was more worried about being cut out of.

Having to compete with people that hold a BSc isn't something I'd considered though, so thank you for bringing that to my attention. I've been looking at Southampton's MSc Oceanography, which looks for any science graduates generally and then allows you to do a course of stuff ranging from Marine Bio, Marine Geology, Physical Oceanography etc, so I hadn't thought it worlds different from Physics.

Sorry if this is a bit rambling. I get I can't expect to do the same jobs as a Physics MSc would have, and should probably prepare for some questions if the MSc in Marine Bio doesn't work out.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by SunlethSky)
I think when I say I'm concerned about judgment it's mostly more "what doors that my BSc opened will an MSc in Marine Bio close", more than anything.
It slightly closes all of them, by no means shut, but a narrower gap. Why? Because changing subject so substantially indicates a substantial change of commitment to the subject and making a commitment elsewhere. So to go back to leverage just the original BSc subject looks either indecisive or as if you couldn't pull the change off.

A little later in life, ie taking a 'gap year' in your early 30s to do a very different career is much more possible, because you have an established career to return to, or professional skills you can leverage in the new direction. But at the start of the career, it just reads as 'fell out of love with subject A, decided to do subject B, that didn't work out so i want to try subject A again, and reset to where I was a year ago'. Employers have evidence to wonder whether your heart is really in it.
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QuentinM
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(Original post by SunlethSky)
So this question probably requires a bit of context, but that is the gist of it.

I'm on an Astrophysics degree right now, set to graduate next year, on track for a decent grade. It's not bad, but it's definitely worn my interest away with time. Nevertheless, I know it's considered a "respected" degree that I could use for jobs in stuff like finance or teaching.

However while thinking about what to do for MSc, I remembered really wanting to do Marine Biology when first applying for my undergrad. I gave up the idea because I figured it wouldn't really get me anywhere, even if it would've made me a lot happier.

But now I'll have a "useful" degree to fall back on, right? So if I wanted to use my MSc on something that's less useful but interests me way more, am I at any sort of disadvantage for having a less useful MSc?

Useful is of course relative to your aim. I'd like to make a career out of Marine Bio, but with competition as fierce as it is I can't bet on it per se. That's why I'm curious if it would undermine a more widely considered useful BSc.

TLDR: Having gone through a STEM undergrad, if I now decide to follow my passion rather than what is economical, will it have any sort of bearing on my BSc?
My take (as someone with a BSc and MRes, both in biology-related subjects).

1) As mentioned above, a big change in subject will likely have people questioning commitment when you first apply-something you will definitely have to be prepared to answer in interviews.

2) Given my experience on a Masters, I personally wouldn't do one unless I was looking to use it to expand career options. I chose to do one to try and give myself a better chance of moving onto a PhD, and hopefully long career in scientific research. If it's for personal interest only, I would not discourage you at all from studying that topic, but I would discourage you from doing that via a Masters. You could reasonably pursue this passion in your spare time alongside another career.

Any ideas what career you may want to do in the future? Something in marine biology? From what I have heard speaking to a wannabe marine biologist (who was actually my diving instructor), careers in marine biology are very rare, and if you want one a masters and PhD in the subject are pretty much compulsory. This is just one person talking to me, but given my experience in a different biology, I'd say theres a good chance he was correct.

3) Would this Masters degree offer a chance to develop any relevant skills that would be useful in any career ideas you have? Or is it purely out of interest?
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SunlethSky
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(Original post by QuentinM)
My take (as someone with a BSc and MRes, both in biology-related subjects).

1) As mentioned above, a big change in subject will likely have people questioning commitment when you first apply-something you will definitely have to be prepared to answer in interviews.

2) Given my experience on a Masters, I personally wouldn't do one unless I was looking to use it to expand career options. I chose to do one to try and give myself a better chance of moving onto a PhD, and hopefully long career in scientific research. If it's for personal interest only, I would not discourage you at all from studying that topic, but I would discourage you from doing that via a Masters. You could reasonably pursue this passion in your spare time alongside another career.

Any ideas what career you may want to do in the future? Something in marine biology? From what I have heard speaking to a wannabe marine biologist (who was actually my diving instructor), careers in marine biology are very rare, and if you want one a masters and PhD in the subject are pretty much compulsory. This is just one person talking to me, but given my experience in a different biology, I'd say theres a good chance he was correct.

3) Would this Masters degree offer a chance to develop any relevant skills that would be useful in any career ideas you have? Or is it purely out of interest?
Thanks for your insight!

Honestly if I were going to do a Marine Bio/Oceanography MSc it would be with the goal of going on to do a PhD, I'm aware the competition is such that it's necessary almost. It's for personal interest (more than Astro at least), but it would be to aim for that.

I think mainly I was asking if my "useful" Astro degree would be a good backup option if I were to try and fail in attempting to get into a Marine Biology career, but as you and the other poster rightly said, I would have to justify that in some way, maybe by showing my course still contains a good amount of physics.

In terms of careers, I'm actually kinda stumped. I wanna do something directly related to my degree, whatever I do. In science that does sorta mean a higher degree is compulsory in either case. I've dabbled with the idea of physics related ones, but didn't feel passionate about any of them so much as doing something I have actual interest in.
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