How does it help doing a second master's in mathematics after doing first master's in Physics for getting a PhD in theoretical Physics in Europe?

Will it be helpful to compensate for a low GPA in Masters in Physics?

Does the reputation of the university (master's degree) really matters for the PhD admissions if one has got enough project experiences in the field from top institutions?

  • 1
    Do you have specific country in Europe where you would like to go to PhD? Not every country or even university in same country has same requirements for PhD.
    – Nissser
    Dec 19, 2015 at 11:52
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    @Nissser True, but the requirements almost always consider GPA in the masters among other things. I think the OP is concerned on that.
    – Sathyam
    Dec 19, 2015 at 12:08

3 Answers 3


I think now that i understand what the author of original post means to do,so please comment if i understood you correctly.

Plan is to enter masters in math,try to get better GPA and then submit using only his new master diploma for PhD. If that is your intention,yes,that could work. As far as i know,masters program in USA lasts for one year. If you have time,will and funds to do it,sure,go ahead. You can get higher GPA and MSc in mathematics while learning something new in process.

Other advice is to get your current GPA transcribed to european grade standard. Go to the websites of the universities where you intend to apply for PhD program and see if you meet minimum grade needed. Since there isn't universal grade minimum, you may find out that you qualify in one of them with your current GPA. Remember,GPA is not be all end all criteria. Personal experience,minimum grade average was 3.5 (very good). When i applied they checked my grade average to see if i meet their minimum and they never looked at it again. It was mostly administrative criteria. Interviews had much more weight in their decision to admit me to PhD program.

Hope it helps

  • Thank u. Yes u are right.I'm planning to do second masters in maths and try to get a good GPA and and i can probably also do one more master thesis work in the same field and use it for the PhD admissions.But, I don't think hiding my first masters is a good idea because i have done special courses related to my area of interest in the course work and the master's thesis too is in the same field.Is that correct?.Will it be helpful to use a good GPA in masters in maths+first masters in Physics(low GPA)+Research experiences (Top Institutions) to get into a PhD program?
    – Sooraj S
    Dec 19, 2015 at 20:25
  • Will it (second masters in Maths with good GPA) be helpful to overcome the minimum GPA requirements in PhD admissions (Theoretical Physics) ? If so, Does it matters which University/College(even if it is not that highly reputed) I do my second Masters too much, if can get a good GPA ?
    – Sooraj S
    Dec 19, 2015 at 20:53
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    Don't hide anything. Why should you? You earned your masters. You usually submit only one masters diploma with aplication. If your new math msc has good enough gpa it will meet admission requirements. With all that you wont have much of a problem getting into phd. I honestly don't know how much University reputation has weight in their decission to admit you,but if you meet all criteria,that shouldn't be a issue. Where I live,most important part is interviews. All else is administrative criteria,formality of sort.
    – Nissser
    Dec 20, 2015 at 2:28
  • Thank you.I just hv one more query-How does it affect if one does the second masters in general physics instead of maths, if the first masters is in a more specialized field in physics such as Optics etc.Will it possibly help in the same way or will it be suspicious to the admission committee since both syllabus might have common subjects?
    – Sooraj S
    Dec 21, 2015 at 6:12

Nothing compensates your low GPA in Physics. I think you have to learn to live with that. But there are several ways to improve your competency for the PhD application in theoretical physics. First let me share my experience with the application procedure in Europe.

In France, from my experience, there is a well structured process for PhD intake. Your application will undergo an initial screening using various criteria, one among them is the GPA, other is the masters thesis. Next step is the interview(expect several rounds). I had a completely different experience in Germany. I was offered a project associate position for 6 months as an entrance to the PhD, predominantly on the basis of my current work(master thesis) and the recommendation from my adviser. I know several others who had similar experience. I recommend you the following.

  1. Find a shot term internship in the field of your liking. If you do really well such that you may get a publication or at least if the supervisor could give a good recommendation for your application, then you have good chances of getting admitted.

  2. Have you considered the US? A great deal of research is going on there. Appear for GRE if your GPA meets the minimum requirements. I cannot say for sure a good GRE score alone can get you a position, guess someone from US could say more about that.

  3. If the above options seem impractical, try applying for a MS in theoretical physics. There are some specialized MS offerings like astrophysics, photonics etc.
  4. Do an independent research in the field of your taste. There is always a possibility for collaboration with others in the field if you could convince them you have the potential to be a researcher.

Bottom line

IMO, doing a masters in mathematics for the sole purpose to be a potential candidate for PhD in theoretical physics because you think you can't be one due to your low GPA is not a good idea. There are other options to consider. If you are really motivated to do math, nothing stops you.

  • Thank you for ur advice and I understand ur point. But will it do something good in for the PhD admission, i mean doing masters in maths, if one can got good gpa in the same ?
    – Sooraj S
    Dec 19, 2015 at 16:16

Usually, crucial point for applying to PhD in europe is to find appropriate and willing advisor to take you as a student. Second Master will not give you any significant chance over others students ( and applicants) however, knowing research interest of professor,lab, department, program where you want to apply and having strong motivation for that field can be advantageous, Unfortunately, if you want me to be more specific I guess you should share name of your program and uni ( according to SE rules not allowed) but I am guessing that you are applying for PhD that are free and financially covered, in most of these application, good communication with advisor and program coordinator is crucial.

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