Masters Degree (MS) in Natural Sciences

Best Universities in the world for Natural Sciences

 
The field of study which explores our seen, and unseen, nature – from the smallest sub atomic particle to the universe, from a single cell to an entire living organism – is called Natural Sciences, or the pure sciences. This comprehension, of a natural phenomenon, is based on observation, or experimentation, thereby leading to the use of the scientific method.

It is different from Applied Sciences since it is the study of Natural Sciences which lays the foundation for the more practical application based sciences, the forte of the former. Natural Sciences, with its classification of physical and the biological sciences, are identified with the following subjects and their interdisciplinary flavors.

  • Physics: The study of matter, its interactions, motion, and the relative concepts that help us understand the universe, and its constituents. Classical Physics, Quantum Physics, Relativity, Electrodynamics, Astronomy, are just some of the concepts that embody the study of Physics. Being one of the oldest, and the most fundamental, scientific disciplines, it is also largely present in the other major subjects in Natural Sciences mentioned below.
  • Chemistry: Science that deals with atoms, molecules, compounds, their composition, structure and interactions at a collective scale. Chemistry is generally considered a link between the more fundamental study of matter, in Physics, with the applied sciences.
  • Biology: A study of all living organisms, from the cellular to the macroscopic systems. The above two scientific disciplines being part of the physical sciences, biology forms the basis of biological, or the living, sciences. It lays the groundwork for medicine, and medical, sciences.
  • Earth Sciences: This field includes geology, meteorology, environmental sciences, and all the subfields related to the study of earth.
  • Atmospheric Sciences: The study of climate, environment, and everything related to the atmosphere.

Various sub-fields, within, like Ecology, Material Science, Environmental Science, are also often referred to as the offspring of Natural Science. Its popularity has survived the turmoil of mankind’s evolution through the many years.

Some of the most recognized brilliant minds, in history, are from the discipline of Natural Sciences. Names like Einstein, Darwin, Galileo, Pauling, and countless more, are synonymous with intelligence and knowledge.

In this article, we will quench a more basic level of human curiosity – Why, and where, to pursue this field for a graduate Masters degree?
 

Career prospects with a Masters in Natural Science

The inevitable presence of technology, in modern times, has proved itself to be in need of continuous evolution. This evolution is only possible by establishing a feedback relationship between basic sciences and the human curiosity, investigating the nature of everything. Hence the significance of research in these fields, and the corresponding demand for researchers.

Besides a straight up academic career, natural scientists are also well regarded for their analytical, and deductive, skills that often makes it possible for such scientists to leave the usual academic career and step into more applied shoes in the private/corporate sector.

In fact, Physicists often find themselves employed in the Finance sector, using their mathematical, and theoretical, powers to develop financial models for predicting risk in various financial involvements, such as investments, hedge funds, equity, etc. Chemists, and biochemists, are usually in fairly large demand in pharmaceutical companies, commercial consumer products manufacturing, food safety, and even forensics.

Environmental scientists, oceanographers, and geoscientists, often find employment in large oil and natural gas companies. The table below gives a quick look at some of the more common careers in Natural Science, as per BLS.gov. In general, even beyond the academic track, these pure scientistsare among some of the higher paid intellectuals as compared to the social sciences.
 

Career Average Salary (approx.) Job Prospects
2016-2026
Physics & Astronomy $115,000 14% of 19,900 in 2016
Chemists and Material Sciences $75,500 7% of 96,200
Biochemists and Biophysicists $82,000 11% of 31,5000
Atmospheric Scientists $92,500 12% of 10,400
Geoscientists $90,000 14% of 32,000
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $69,000 11% of 89,500
Microbiologists $67,000 8% of 23,200

 

Best universities in Natural Science for Masters Graduate Studies

While the world is teeming with brilliant minds, in the sciences, with the whole world playing a stage for their experiments and theories, there are a few universities that stand above the rest when it comes to quality of resources, faculty, environment, facilities, and years worth of a well developed brand name.

Here are ten of the world’s most reputed universities for Natural Sciences, according to the QS World University Rankings. (Read Popular study destinations abroad).
 

World Ranking University Country
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) USA
2 University of Cambridge UK
3 Harvard University USA
4 Stanford University USA
5 University of Oxford UK
6 ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Switzerland
7 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) USA
8 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) USA
9 The University of Tokyo Japan
10 Imperial College London UK

 
Even in India, the Indian Institute of Science, in Bangalore, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, are among the top 200 institutes in the world for research in the pure sciences. The individual fields of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and the rest, may show variations of the combined rankings.

However, it is safe to assume that the above schools are especially renowned for their quality of graduate programs, and overall research environment.

Interested candidates, for a Masters in one of the fields in Natural Sciences, is recommended to understand their research inclination and refer to the body of work, in a given university and department, for a direction with respect to Masters applications.

Since a Masters research work will most likely introduce the initial germ of research, this early level of evaluation can be treated as an initiation. This initiation is essential to understand whether one is truly prepared to take on the more rigorous, PhD, and hence an academic career in the field.

So, we urge the reader to take a serious hard look at the various programs and consider the inputs from current students and faculty members who can guide them.

Meanwhile, here is a link to get you started on that Masters degree – Guide to an international Masters degree.
 
Sources:1,2,3