PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:35 pm

I'm enrolled in a 5 year Applied Geology course at IIT Kharagpur India. My main areas of interest are - particle physics and nonlinear dynamics.

I graduate in 2014, and would like to know how to go about the whole application procedure.

Would be extremely grateful if someone could give me a point-wise action plan, considering I still have 2 years to build a resume.

Also, do suggest appropriate universities/institutes.

User avatar
quizivex
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:13 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby quizivex » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:56 pm

mallikarjunk wrote:I graduate in 2014, and would like to know how to go about the whole application procedure.
WTF is it about Indian culture that makes them predisposed to posting questions like this? Seriously... there are dozens of these posts every year, and they're all from Indians.

"What are the various formalities for applying to physics graduate schools in the US?"

"What topics are covered on the PGRE?"

"Here's my profile: 820 PGRE, bachelor's of physics - Where can I apply?"

"What are my chances of getting in to Barakley?" etc.

Could somebody please tell me why it is always the Indian students that make these BS posts? Never Chinese, European or American??

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:40 pm

Yes, that was indeed very helpful. Thank you for such a wonderful reply to a first timer on this forum.
Last edited by mallikarjunk on Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
midwestphysics
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby midwestphysics » Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:18 pm

quizivex wrote: Could somebody please tell me why it is always the Indian students that make these BS posts? Never Chinese, European or American??


Well those three tend to ask themselves the questions first, we internalize the process, which leads us to a simple search for the information. The other, well, it is easier just to ask the question and let someone else do all the leg work.

mallikarjunk wrote:Yes, that was indeed very helpful. Thank you for such a wonderful reply to a first timer on this forum, you moron.


Here is a website with a function that will answer all your questions.the answer to life the universe and everything (not 42)

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:27 pm

This is a forum. Answer if you feel charitable or ignore. No question is a BS question. :|

I'm definitely not forcing someone to do the leg work for me. Some people just don't mind spending 2-3 minutes to help a newbie.

User avatar
midwestphysics
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby midwestphysics » Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:31 pm

The simple fact of the matter is that yes you are asking someone to do the leg work for you. Because every thing you need to know or rather can be known can be found in a simple search. A lot of it is already on this site, the rest can be found through google and by looking at school websites. Specific questions, that have been previously unanswered or points that are not addressed are always welcome. However, a "point-wise action plan" is too general, and as such all the info we can offer you is easily accessible through simple searching. A real point-wise action plan needs to be tailored to specifics, that's something you need to talk to a physics adviser in your school about.

However, if you want some advice, here:

1.
I'm enrolled in a 5 year Applied Geology course at IIT Kharagpur India. My main areas of interest are - particle physics and nonlinear dynamics.


Get out of applied geology and into a physics program.

2.
I graduate in 2014, and would like to know how to go about the whole application procedure.

Look at school websites, they tell you exactly what you need to do to apply. search forums like this for how things work and what they look for.

3.
Would be extremely grateful if someone could give me a point-wise action plan, considering I still have 2 years to build a resume.

see above for how to find that.

4.
Also, do suggest appropriate universities/institutes.

Everybody hates this question. It's too general and answered a millions times over. You may get a few to give you suggestions, but that's after a great deal of background, goals, etc. Even then, those suggestions are not very strong.

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:36 pm

Thank you.

SPat
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:31 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby SPat » Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:15 am

quizivex wrote:WTF is it about Indian culture that makes them predisposed to posting questions like this?

That is the title of my upcoming research project, I'm currently looking for funding.

Anyways, the OP is in luck as there happens to be one grad student originally from India who is jobless enough to do his leg-work.

1)
midwestphysics wrote:
mallikarjunk wrote:I'm enrolled in a 5 year Applied Geology course at IIT Kharagpur India. My main areas of interest are - particle physics and nonlinear dynamics.
Get out of applied geology and into a physics program.

I know enough about the IITs to know that that this is nearly impossible to do in practice. Your best option is to take as many physics electives as you can (and be sure not to miss out the important ones, like advanced quantum, advanced E&M, etc.)

2) If you're graduating in 2014, this is way to early to think about the application procedure.

3) See above. Also try to get some research experience.

4) You need to have a clearer idea about your interests in physics. There are many excellent graduate programs in the US (or for that matter, in India) that you can apply to.

And one last thing:
quizivex wrote:"What are my chances of getting in to Barakley?" etc.

I am considering taking offense at that...

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:06 am

Thank you so much.

User avatar
quizivex
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:13 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby quizivex » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:16 pm

SPat wrote:
quizivex wrote:"What are my chances of getting in to Barakley?" etc.

I am considering taking offense at that...

Not sure if you're serious or not... but I was referring to a real post. See: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=934&hilit=barakley

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:22 pm

OK! That was funny!

@quizivex: The fact that I posted a query here doesn't mean I'm a fool who can't google or look at the websites of various universities. All I'm doing is gathering enough data. Its quite possible that someone somewhere knows something that I won't find on the web.

Minovsky
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby Minovsky » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:47 pm

mallikarjunk wrote:@quizivex: The fact that I posted a query here doesn't mean I'm a fool who can't google or look at the websites of various universities. All I'm doing is gathering enough data. Its quite possible that someone somewhere knows something that I won't find on the web.
This is true, but based on the information you asked for, it is clear that you posted here before you actually searched google or university websites. Google/university websites easily answer everything you asked for in your original post. Even just searching/browsing this forum you could have found all the information you initially asked for.

mallikarjunk wrote:This is a forum. Answer if you feel charitable or ignore. No question is a BS question. :|

I'm definitely not forcing someone to do the leg work for me. Some people just don't mind spending 2-3 minutes to help a newbie.
And some people just don't mind spending 2-3 minutes searching google to answer simple generic questions. In my opinion, asking for a "point-wise action plan," an explanation of "how to go about the whole application procedure," and suggestions for "appropriate universities/institutes" for broad, unspecific interests definitely constitutes as "forcing someone to do the leg work" for you. There are so many topics covered by "particle physics and nonlinear dynamics" that a list of suggested schools based solely on that would list 200 schools or more.

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:56 pm

@Minovsky: Yes. I admit my questions are too general. Its time I apologise.
However, no university site can tell me what exactly to do in order to improve my chances, owing to the non-Physics nature of my major. I'm three years into India's most prestigious institute and quitting in order to join a Physics course at some other institute is no choice. What I was looking for was what exactly someone in my position did in order to successfully get admitted into a "Barkaley"-like grad-school.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:46 pm

990 on the physics GRE, as many physics electives as you can muster, and 10 offerings/day to the god(s)* of your choice. I recommend cake.


*My choices, in order, would be: Nobel Prize winners, funding agencies, department heads, and the admissions coordinator/secretary at Berkeley. Not sure how much the latter will help you, but Anne would appreciate a cake.

Minovsky
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby Minovsky » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:03 pm

As far as I know, nobody in your position has been accepted into a Berkeley-caliber school. Not saying it isn't possible, but it is so unlikely that you need to consider other options. e.g. less competitive universities or a career that's related to your Geology degree.

I would look into the possibility of getting a master's in physics before you apply to phd programs. It would probably be better for you to do this in India. Having an actual degree in physics will significantly increase your chances.

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:13 pm

^^This is what I was looking for.

Thank you very much.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:58 pm

Minovsky wrote:As far as I know, nobody in your position has been accepted into a Berkeley-caliber school. Not saying it isn't possible, but it is so unlikely that you need to consider other options. e.g. less competitive universities or a career that's related to your Geology degree.

I would look into the possibility of getting a master's in physics before you apply to phd programs. It would probably be better for you to do this in India. Having an actual degree in physics will significantly increase your chances.


Well...Ed Witten. Undergrad Majors in History and Linguistics, an unfinished masters in economics, and accepted into the PhD program at Princeton. But I suppose there are always exceptions, even for the fundamental laws.* Also, not sure if he had support or not, and this was before the Great Bureaucratization of American grad admissions.

*of grad school, of course

mallikarjunk
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby mallikarjunk » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:09 pm

I'm no Ed Witten. I'll just do my best and hope to get into a decent university (even if it is less competitive than Berkeley, etc.).

P-representation
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:56 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby P-representation » Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:40 am

.
Last edited by P-representation on Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

arpit2agrawal
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:21 pm

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby arpit2agrawal » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:52 am

mallikarjunk wrote:I'm enrolled in a 5 year Applied Geology course at IIT Kharagpur India. My main areas of interest are - particle physics and nonlinear dynamics.

I graduate in 2014, and would like to know how to go about the whole application procedure.

Would be extremely grateful if someone could give me a point-wise action plan, considering I still have 2 years to build a resume.

Also, do suggest appropriate universities/institutes.


Hey! I am also one of those who wants to pursue PhD in Physics but has non-Physics undergraduate background. With Bachelors in Computer Engineering (GPA 3.7, not from IIT though), 4 year of work-ex in software and hardware industry, 940 on Physics GRE, 800 on quantitative GRE and 105 on TOEFL iBT, I have applied some universities for fall 2012 but failed to make into any top ranking university. There are some universities out there which mention in their FAQs that they consider applicants having non-Physics background, but it seems they limit this just to their FAQs page. Top universities get 20-25 times more applications than they can admit. Most applicants have awesome undergraduate Physics background from top universities, some research experience and publications and letter of recommendations from famous physicists along with awesome GRE scores. That's why it is very difficult for us to compete with them.

If you are really interested in spending your life as a physicist, in my opinion, you have 2 options and I strongly recommend #1:
1. Quit your existing undergraduate program now. Spending 2 more year in the field which you wanna leave is a waste of time. Start BSc Physics this year and aim IIT for MSc Physics in 2015 by giving JAM. Then apply for PhD Physics for fall 2017 and you might make into top 20.
2. If you don't wanna leave your undergraduate program now, take at least 4 courses in Physics viz. Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Statistical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics in next 2 year. Score 900+ in Physics GRE and 800 in quantitative GRE. Apply for PhD. Don't keep hopes from top 50. You might get into 50+ ranking US university and might have to struggle very hard in the future to get a job in academia even as a assistant professor unless your PhD and postdoc publications are phenomenal (in comparison to those from Harvard, MIT, etc.).

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: PhD in Physics for non-Physics majors

Postby bfollinprm » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:49 am

There's also masters programs; they're basically built for people who need a year between their bachelors and a PhD, whether because of poor performance as an undergrad or incomplete preparation (like one would have by having the wrong major :wink: ). Of course, a masters program costs money out of pocket...




Return to “Special Concerns for International Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest