My situation is a bit unusual.
I completed my bachelor's in electrical engineering, where I focused on physics projects and had a bad GPA (7.3/10).
My bachelor's thesis was in cosmology and I had a couple of projects more. I applied but didn't get in (ten rejects), presumably because my grades were abysmal.
I took a year off and enrolled in a good master's program. Going to apply again for Fall 2018.
Here's my profile:
Scores and Grades
Grad GPA: More than 3.6 (assuming higher grades have higher than linear scores / converting from a 9 point to 4 point scale). Topped class in Math Phys I and II, Relativity, Classical Mechanics.
GRE: V: 164, Q: 170, W: 4.5
PGRE: 960/990 (in 2015)
Projects / Internships
CERN (2014: 2 months): Summer internship. Working on testing the muon detectors of the CMS.
Bachelor's Thesis (2015: 6 months): N-body simulations and assessing the impact of massive neutrinos on large-scale structure. Worked on the GADGET-2 code. At a reputed institution in India.
Modifying GADGET-2 (2016 - Independent: 3 months): Added support for a variety of dark energy models in GADGET-2, and added support for massive neutrinos and dark energy in the initial conditions generation code N-GenIC.
Constraining The Halo Mass Function (2017: 3 months): Working through a prestigious national fellowship on using GADGET-2 simulations to explain the dependence of the halo mass function on the power spectrum. Also working on understanding and migrating halo mass function and power spectrum generation codes using N-body simulations.
Master's Thesis : Not finalised but will be something around QFT / inflation.
Wrote and presented an introduction to classical field theory.
TA in signals and systems (undergraduate).
Two professors from my university (master's) who are well-known (not in the field), and with whom I have had good amount of contact inside and outside the classroom. Topped both of their courses and I have regular discussions with them.
My advisor at my summer internship, who is pretty well-known in cosmology circles. I have made it a point to interact with him as much as possible.
A professor / mentor of mine from my undergraduate university, who works in cosmology and first taught me / gave me projects.
My bachelor's thesis advisor.
I am mainly interested in dark energy, inflation and structure formation, combining theory with simulations. I recognise simulations are an important tool in cosmology, and I want to use them to verify / nullify theoretical predictions.
I basically want to apply to schools that have a broad cosmology group, with space for both theory and computation. Which schools should I pick, given that my profile isn't anything stellar? I'd prefer physics programs over astro programs.
Currently, based on preliminary searching, I came up with:
ASU (they have a good theory group)
Also, I have doubts about how much my good grad GPA will offset my bad undergrad scores. I want to use it to present in my statement that the low grades were a result of disillusionment with the engineering subject, and my good graduate scores prove that I am academically capable.
Any help will be gladly appreciated. Thanks a ton, guys!