PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

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blackcat007
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PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby blackcat007 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:57 am

as a budding theoretical physicist, i many times brood over the fact that, what will happen if i don't get a top school and get a low ranked school say 68th rank according to US news ranking? Will i get a position in academics anywhere after my PhD?
Since theoretical physics doesn't require any instruments and any such huge infrastructures, then doing a PhD from a school like Syracuse where there are good theoretical physicists, but has a low rank. will that help me in doing good research later?
yes i know it largely depends on me and my work, but will i face situations where i will be having the potential to succeed but due to the low rank or location or other such factors i will be held back? or i will never be able to work with the frontier problems even if i have the talent?
Other than these problems what all will i face if i do my PhD from a low rank university.

It may sound presumptuous but, Witten went to Princeton for applied math after his history UG from Brandeis and UW-madison(eco), i would like to ask him, how he went there?? was the admission procedure different that time? wasn't there any GRE and math GRE that time?? and what did he do for reco??

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zxcv
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Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby zxcv » Sat Aug 22, 2009 5:46 am

The ambition may be admirable, but planning your career on doing theoretical (especially particle) theory in academia is pretty far fetched for everyone. Even at the very best schools, only a quarter get tenure track positions (I could did up the relevant blog post eventually...).

It's really difficult to separate out how much reputation matters, but clearly the dominant effect in academic success is entirely up to you. Students from top schools are more likely to succeed but these students were more likely to go to top schools anyways.

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twistor
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Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby twistor » Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:54 am

Everyone who has an interest in theoretical physics has to face this decision sooner or later.

zxcv is right, your chances of becoming a tenured faculty member are slim no matter where you go. I don't think the school you go to matters as much has no well connected your adviser is. If your adviser is well connected but the school is "low-ranked" (whatever that means) you could very well land an excellent post-doc. On the other hand, if you go to a "top" school and have an apathetic adviser who doesn't network much you can easily end up leaving the field. In either case the post-doc is most likely the end of the line for you since theorists aren't in high demand. At my old institution there was a theorist who was on his 4th or 5th post-doc. Obviously he had been producing papers for 4 or 5 years after graduating with his Ph.d. but still was unable to find a permanent position. Consider yourself warned.

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby blackcat007 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:13 pm

twistor wrote:Everyone who has an interest in theoretical physics has to face this decision sooner or later.

zxcv is right, your chances of becoming a tenured faculty member are slim no matter where you go. I don't think the school you go to matters as much has no well connected your adviser is. If your adviser is well connected but the school is "low-ranked" (whatever that means) you could very well land an excellent post-doc. On the other hand, if you go to a "top" school and have an apathetic adviser who doesn't network much you can easily end up leaving the field. In either case the post-doc is most likely the end of the line for you since theorists aren't in high demand. At my old institution there was a theorist who was on his 4th or 5th post-doc. Obviously he had been producing papers for 4 or 5 years after graduating with his Ph.d. but still was unable to find a permanent position. Consider yourself warned.


can a person support oneself with the post doc funds , may be not a luxurious life but somewhat well off?? and in case i get married, will i get more funds? or do i need to stay bachelor till i get a permanent professorship or job? in either case i know i may never be able to drive a bentley or a merc or have a mansion, but i am ready for such a life.

excel
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:33 am

Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby excel » Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:56 pm

Pst-docs dont get an increase in stipend because he is getting married! But I know several post-docs who are married. I dont know how much their wives earn, but it is definitely possible to be married as a post-doc!

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twistor
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Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby twistor » Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:29 pm

As a post-doc expect to earn between $20k-40k/year. You will not get a raise for being married.

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monocles
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Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby monocles » Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:48 pm

zxcv wrote:The ambition may be admirable, but planning your career on doing theoretical (especially particle) theory


Where I can go to study theoretical theory? :shock: :lol:

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twistor
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Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby twistor » Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:50 pm

Theoretically, anywhere.

physics_auth
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Re: PhD in Theoretical physics and beyond.

Postby physics_auth » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:32 pm

blackcat007 wrote:as a budding theoretical physicist, i many times brood over the fact that, what will happen if i don't get a top school and get a low ranked school say 68th rank according to US news ranking? Will i get a position in academics anywhere after my PhD?
Since theoretical physics doesn't require any instruments and any such huge infrastructures, then doing a PhD from a school like Syracuse where there are good theoretical physicists, but has a low rank. will that help me in doing good research later?
yes i know it largely depends on me and my work, but will i face situations where i will be having the potential to succeed but due to the low rank or location or other such factors i will be held back? or i will never be able to work with the frontier problems even if i have the talent?
Other than these problems what all will i face if i do my PhD from a low rank university.

It may sound presumptuous but, Witten went to Princeton for applied math after his history UG from Brandeis and UW-madison(eco), i would like to ask him, how he went there?? was the admission procedure different that time? wasn't there any GRE and math GRE that time?? and what did he do for reco??


Finding a school that matches you, and a research group that interests you is much more important (Grae's words). I totally agree.




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