Choosing between PhD subject areas and offers

crimsonmist
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:47 am

Choosing between PhD subject areas and offers

Postby crimsonmist » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:52 am

Hi all,

I guess this a type question most of us are asking presently, so I thought I'd ask for some opinions.

I've got three offers that I am interested in currently (all for HEP-th): UPitt, UMass-Amherst and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (in Paris :D ). UPitt is particularly strong in particle phenomenology (but not formal theory), and the project Ive been accepted into at Pierre and Marie Curie is on particle phono. On the other hand, UMass has a more theoretically oriented group who work on quantum gravity and things. I think I am oriented more towards mathematical physics than phenomenology, so I'm leaning towards UMass (even though Id be able to live in Paris if I did a PhD at UPMC).

However, Im also concerned about getting a good postdoc after the PhD and am wondering what the postdoc opportunities are like for more formal high energy theory as opposed to phenomenology?

Cheers, and congratulations to all those who have got offers (and hopefully those who haven't gotten offers will receive some soon).

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Choosing between PhD subject areas and offers

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:29 am

crimsonmist wrote:Hi all,

I guess this a type question most of us are asking presently, so I thought I'd ask for some opinions.

I've got three offers that I am interested in currently (all for HEP-th): UPitt, UMass-Amherst and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (in Paris :D ). UPitt is particularly strong in particle phenomenology (but not formal theory), and the project Ive been accepted into at Pierre and Marie Curie is on particle phono. On the other hand, UMass has a more theoretically oriented group who work on quantum gravity and things. I think I am oriented more towards mathematical physics than phenomenology, so I'm leaning towards UMass (even though Id be able to live in Paris if I did a PhD at UPMC).

However, Im also concerned about getting a good postdoc after the PhD and am wondering what the postdoc opportunities are like for more formal high energy theory as opposed to phenomenology?

Cheers, and congratulations to all those who have got offers (and hopefully those who haven't gotten offers will receive some soon).


I can't tell you much about the schools you have gotten into, but Congrats!! Regarding post docs, I have met a few in hep-th working on formal theory, I'll share what I know*. First, getting a post-doc in general is difficult, but it is even harder for hep-th. It really isn't too much about where you go, but who you work with+the connections he or she has.

You can certainly go on to getting great post doc positions, once you past the hurdles, but be prepared to work SUPER hard. If you are open minded and are also open to working at post doc positions outside the U.S ( i.e ETH Zurich), you can certainly thrive.

*I would like to point out that not all of them went into top 10 or top 20 schools for graduate studies.

crimsonmist
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:47 am

Re: Choosing between PhD subject areas and offers

Postby crimsonmist » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:19 pm

Thanks @ PathIntegrals92, thats quite helpful. I believe getting postdocs is getting increasingly difficult, and I do wonder if its more difficult for formal theory than for something like particle phenomenology (which is more directly related to the LHC etc.).

How are your apps going? Well I hope?

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Choosing between PhD subject areas and offers

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:46 pm

I imagine getting post-docs for hep-ph is a little easier compared to hep-th, but still difficult. For hep-ph you also have the opportunities for working as a post-doc in nationals labs ( i.e Brookhaven , Fermi, SLAC, etc.) and as you have mentioned work is most likely to be directly related to experiment.

I personally have not met any post docs in hep-ph so I don't have specific examples or real life stories, but I am sure when you visit schools you can learn about the opportunities more. Now that I think about it, I have only met one hep-ph prof, so I don't know too much opportunities in this field.

If you are more interested in formal theory, do it. Work hard+find an advisor who will support you well! One caveat is that, as you know, getting tenure track positions in hep-th are extremely extremely difficult. The post docs I have met two years ago ( one was in his 2nd or 3rd, and the other was in 3rd) are still post docs. That's a lot of time...

One went to a top 5 school for grad while the other went to a top 30. Just to reiterate that it's not all about where you go....

Edit: Thanks for asking about my apps! I am pretty happy with the offers I got. I too wanted to do hep-th for a while, but changed my mind pretty much during the application process haha. I do still enjoy the field a lot tho. I find myself wanting to keep up as much as I can and talking to hep-th dudes/dudetts as much as I can. :D




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