Hello. My B.S. is in Chemistry, with a great deal of coursework in physics and materials science. My interest is in solid state self assembly phenomena ranging from polymers to controlled crystal growth. My undergrad research is in experimental polymer science, so I'd love to do a PhD on some more inorganic systems to broaden my views and gain useful skills. I am doing a M.S. in Physics, in condensed matter physics. Still looking for a group but deciding right now between magnetic thin film experiments, computational polymer science and organic photovoltaics experiments.
After my M.S. I hope to be accepted to a PhD program where I can keep doing this sort of research. I am seeing Chemistry, Physics and Materials Science programs all do work in this area.
1. The school I am looking at for PhD studies can give me 30 credits for my M.S. in Physics (reducing PhD required credits from 84 to 54) if I go to Chemistry. In addition they can cut the required 8 classes down to 4, and I'll be able to graduate in 3-4 years since I will be purely focused on research. The downside is that I sort of feel that they have too much of a spectroscopy and organic synthesis approach to studying these problems. I am not very interested in spectroscopy approaches alone and I am very bad in organic chemistry experiments.
2. They can also give me 30 credits for my M.S. in Physics but they don't know if I'd be able to skip Classical Mechanics, EM, Quantum Mechanics and Stat/Thermo since this physics department has a qualifying exam where I have to do problems from these 4 areas; since this test is once per year, I might not be able to pass it without retaking all those classes because I'd have 1 year between the end of my M.S. and the test and might forget everything.
I've also heard horror stories of 80 hour workweeks for PhD level Physics students. Right now I'm working a normal schedule but I am not sure if that will last to the PhD level.
3. If I go to Materials Science, they can reduce my courseload from 10 to 6 and my research hours by 12 credits (total reduction: 24 credits). They don't require a comprehensive exam if GPA is high enough. However the catch is that Materials Science isn't as well funded and therefore may be more difficult to get into because they take less students.
I am truly interested in getting a PhD, but since I am already doing my masters and will have spent 2 years on that, I want to be done with the PhD within 4 years while working less than 60 hours per week. That is because of some pressing personal reasons, and time to completion will influence my decision. However, I also do not want to compromise the learning experience and am willing to sacrifice alot for my research as long as it doesn't influence my health.
Which program do you think is best suited for my situation?