Going from Astronomy to Physics

changh20
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Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:58 pm

Going from Astronomy to Physics

Postby changh20 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:05 pm

I wanted to ask if anyone knew whether or not its possible to transfer/switch from an Astronomy program to a Physics program within the school. I've browsed through the forum and found many posts about the other way around (physics to astronomy), but none from astronomy to physics.

Does anyone know of this happening in the past?

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HappyQuark
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Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Going from Astronomy to Physics

Postby HappyQuark » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:27 pm

changh20 wrote:I wanted to ask if anyone knew whether or not its possible to transfer/switch from an Astronomy program to a Physics program within the school. I've browsed through the forum and found many posts about the other way around (physics to astronomy), but none from astronomy to physics.

Does anyone know of this happening in the past?


In general it is never possible to switch departments within the school in any direction (i.e. Astro->Physics, Physics->Astro, Applied->Physics, etc.) Each department has its own funding, it's own number of open spots, etc. When you are applying to a school, you are actually applying to that specific program.

vesperlynd
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Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:28 am

Re: Going from Astronomy to Physics

Postby vesperlynd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:40 am

A faculty member at my school said he transferred from Planetary Science to Physics. Also, if you look at Caltech's listings of grad students, you will notice that a few transferred to EE or Applied Physics from Physics. It's not impossible, but you have to have a good reason.

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sphy
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Re: Going from Astronomy to Physics

Postby sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:46 am

changh20 wrote:I wanted to ask if anyone knew whether or not its possible to transfer/switch from an Astronomy program to a Physics program within the school. I've browsed through the forum and found many posts about the other way around (physics to astronomy), but none from astronomy to physics.

Does anyone know of this happening in the past?

As far as I can get, it's a school policy, so compose two personalised emails and send to the director of the both departments of the school you are in. And you'll get the total picture there, including any other relevant thing.
Hope that makes thing clear.

bfollinprm
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Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Going from Astronomy to Physics

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:02 am

changh20 wrote:I wanted to ask if anyone knew whether or not its possible to transfer/switch from an Astronomy program to a Physics program within the school. I've browsed through the forum and found many posts about the other way around (physics to astronomy), but none from astronomy to physics.

Does anyone know of this happening in the past?


You can probably work with a physics professor (working in an astro-related field), but you probably can't get a physics degree. Might be wrong, though.

astroprof
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: Going from Astronomy to Physics

Postby astroprof » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:02 pm

Most schools are flexible in regards to research topics (i.e., you may be
able to work with a physics professor), but the only way to receive a
Physics degree is to be accepted into the Physics program. Schools may
be willing to waive the application fee for such an internal transfer, but
there is no guarantee that the Physics program will accept you if you
attempt to transfer.

Note that there is a very bad history of international students applying to
"obscure" departments in order to increase their chance of acceptance
to an elite university and then transferring to CS or Physics once they
arrive in the US. This practice is unethical. Genuine changes in research
interests and direction are expected, as students learn more about the
field and research activities, but deliberately writing personal statements
that indicate an interest in one field when your real interests are in another
is unacceptable. I raise this issue because your chance of a successful
internal transfer will likely depend on whether or not the Physics department
believes you are trying to circumvent their normal application process.

As astronomy is a small field with a limited number of spots for graduate
students each year, my general advice is that students should apply to
Physics programs if they are uncertain between Physics/Astronomy research.
Not only are there many excellent research programs hosted within
combined Physics and Astronomy Departments, it is fundamentally easier
to add a few (relevant) Astronomy courses to the standard Physics curriculum
than it is to add many Physics courses to the typical Astronomy curriculum.




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