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I am a master's student in India, supposed to apply for PhD applications this year. However, I am still unsure of what I want to pursue in my PhD program. Meanwhile, I came across PSI's one-year master's program which seems like something I would like to explore. Should I apply for it or another master in the same subject will be a drawback for admission committees when I apply for a PhD in the US? I am also a bit reluctant to apply this year for PhD because of the pandemic.

Also, while presently I am mostly interested in computational work related to general relativity, I want to explore more in the theoretical side, hence inclined towards the PSI program.

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    "I am also a bit reluctant to apply this year for PhD because of the pandemic." I suspect this is your real question. Apply for the PhD now if you are planning to do one later. Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 10:11
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    Could you clarify what PSI stands for? Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 14:01
  • @user2705196 Given the context, it's probably this program at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, but I'm hesitant to edit the question without OP's confirmation.
    – Anyon
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 16:26
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    Yes, I was talking about the Perimeter Institute's Master program.
    – sput13
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 17:53
  • Admissions committees would be looking at research potential, if you can go there, figure out what you are interested in, do some work and publish, you will be better of doing that master's program.
    – Jihadi
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 5:51

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I would say if you apply and are successful then it would be worth taking, I think the program in general is well-regarded but if your worried about it looking weird to have two masters degrees you could refer to one as physics and the other as theoretical physics. The program is very challenging to get into but it covers lots of material in theoretical physics, though goes through this material very fast (and the entire lecture series is online).

You will also get to know all the other participants well which will be good for networking in the future, and you will get to meet a number of well regarded researchers in theoretical physics (and because of the reputation they will probably be more likely to keep an eye on people who participate in the program).

The only thing that comes to mind is that it is possible PSI may be looking for students who don't already have a master's degree, but I have no knowledge of that and it if it is an issue, then its not an issue with respect to your ultimate goal.

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Should I apply for it or another master in the same subject will be a drawback for admission committees

It's likely getting another (3rd?) master's degree won't help much and may signal indecisiveness in admissions committees. You've already proven you can get a master's degree in a STEM subject. It may raise concerns that you will "Master Out" of a PhD program.

It could actually work against you if you aren't publishing. You've spent double the time in grad school, you'd be expected to have more papers published than other applicants. The university would prefer you did more research at their institution.

If you think PSI would be a good fit, then you should apply to the PhD program instead.

What you should do instead - work for a professor

Instead of getting another official degree, see if a professor will hire you part-time to work with them. This will usually give you access to classes for free, and (hopefully) provide a great reference and research papers (both of which will help your application).

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  • PSI is very prestigious, getting into it and finishing it successfully could be a very strong pro in an application (especially if the OP is from an unknown university, or worked with an unknown professor).
    – user151413
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 20:40

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