monkeyman wrote:I recently graduated from a respected university with a B.S. in chemical engineering (nanoscience concentration, 3.50 GPA). I am currently working in industry, and plan on doing so for about 2 years. My goal is to begin a Ph.D. program in Physics after working for 2 years.
I have two questions: do I have a realistic chance of being accepted to graduate school for physics with a B.S. in chemical engineering, and if so, what are some steps I should take to prepare myself?
I know that there are many books I could read to improve my knowledge; do you guys have any suggestions on specific books I should devote my time to working through?
I still live very close to the university I graduated from. One thought I had was reaching out to some professors in the physics department at my alma mater to see if I could do some type of work in their labs (weekday evenings and weekends are the only possibility, as I work full-time). Of course I would not request pay; the work would be done in exchange for any knowledge and experience gained.
monkeyman wrote:Thanks so much, that is some very helpful information. As a reference, here are some of the classes I took as an undergrad that may be relevant:
3 levels of calculus (differential, integral, and multivariable)
electricity and magnetism
2 levels of thermodynamics
lots of chemistry
My differential and integral calculus are pretty strong, but multivariable not so much (didn't use that much after I took it), so I would probably need to re-learn that.
After the math, it seems that the main topics to master are classical mechanics, E&M, and quantum mechanics. What about special relativity and statistical mechanics? I think the area I ultimately want to study is nuclear physics, if that makes a difference.
When the time comes, any suggestions on what tier of schools I ought to apply to (top 20, top 50, etc.)? Just a rough estimate here, since my PGRE score is still an unknown at this point. Being that I didn't study physics exclusively as an undergrad and that I have no relevant research experience, I realize places like Harvard, MIT, Caltech, Berkeley are not realistic.
Again, thank you very much, your advice has been very helpful.
But why nuclear physics? You need to be prepared to answer that, and I feel you may be placed at a disadvantage if you claim you want to pursue a concentration in that field without prior/current experience to back it up. I feel there is some leniency in regard to graduate programs of not knowing exactly what you want to do, but you can make a much more powerful argument for yourself if you can connect current work or previous experience to nuclear physics.
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