All Other Majors to Physics

sumit.agarwal3
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All Other Majors to Physics

Postby sumit.agarwal3 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:09 am

"pqortic: questions about changing major will be gathered here. for all majors:

Electrical Engineering, History, Mathematics, Economics, Mechanical Engineering, instrumentation and control eng..."




Hi Friends,
I am a software engineer working in Mumbai, India. I have done my under graduation in computer science in India. With my 1.5 years of IT experience, I have realized that I would like to pursue my graduation and even PHD in physics. I wanted to know about the challenges that I would face in doing so, as for the last 5 years I have been associated with computer engineering and have not been remotely associated with physics. Theory of relativity and quantum mechanics have always excited me, and I would like to pursue a study on the same. Please let me know if its possible for a software professional to get into physics. If yes, then what should be my immediate steps. Should I take GRE or the subject GRE. I just needed some sort of a guidance from you for the next 6 months or which would help me improve myself to the extent that I can work in physics. Keenly awaiting your guidance.
Thanks.

vaibhavtewari
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All Other Majors to Physics

Postby vaibhavtewari » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:11 pm

Getting admission with a computer science degree is very difficult(almost impossible). I did my undergrad in Aerospace Eng. and then I scored 820/990 in PGRE, I got into a not so good university and after 4 years I realize I should have to be a better place this time I got 990/990, so what my experience says is if you are that interested join a 2 year MSc Program(conduct by IITs, you do have to work very hard for entrance exam) and then apply for PhD at a US institution...

skippy
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All Other Majors to Physics

Postby skippy » Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:26 am

Hello,

I got my undergrad degree in Economics. However a few years after graduating I've realized what I really want to do is get a Ph. D in Physics.

Problem is I don't have any formal background in Physics besides an intro sequence. Also, my undergrad GPA (3.1) is not good, and I didn't have relationships with any professors so I don't have a good source for recs.

On the plus side my GRE scores are good - 790V/800M/960 Physics. I've done a lot of self-study in Physics and I've also taken a decent amount of math for Economics, roughly equivalent to a Math minor.

To improve my chances, I'm thinking about either: 1) taking a semester or two of post-bac Physics classes, 2) getting a complete second bachelor's in Physics, or 3) pursuing a Master's. I'm not the apathetic slacker I was in undergrad so I feel confident I can do much better academically & get to know some profs, as well as hopefully get some research experience.

What would be the best route to take? Is it possible for me to get into a decent Master's program (in Physics or a related field like Applied Math) with really lame recs + low GPA? My ultimate goal is just to attend a good program for my Physics Ph. D.

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grae313
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Re: Need advice: Econ to Physics ...

Postby grae313 » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:05 am

skippy wrote:Hello,

I got my undergrad degree in Economics. However a few years after graduating I've realized what I really want to do is get a Ph. D in Physics.

Problem is I don't have any formal background in Physics besides an intro sequence. Also, my undergrad GPA (3.1) is not good, and I didn't have relationships with any professors so I don't have a good source for recs.

On the plus side my GRE scores are good - 790V/800M/960 Physics. I've done a lot of self-study in Physics and I've also taken a decent amount of math for Economics, roughly equivalent to a Math minor.

To improve my chances, I'm thinking about either: 1) taking a semester or two of post-bac Physics classes, 2) getting a complete second bachelor's in Physics, or 3) pursuing a Master's. I'm not the apathetic slacker I was in undergrad so I feel confident I can do much better academically & get to know some profs, as well as hopefully get some research experience.

What would be the best route to take? Is it possible for me to get into a decent Master's program (in Physics or a related field like Applied Math) with really lame recs + low GPA? My ultimate goal is just to attend a good program for my Physics Ph. D.


Wow, a 960 on the physics GRE through self study is impressive and I think admissions committees will be impressed by that. You'll need a little more on your application before a decent program will feel confident in admitting you though, in my opinion. Repeating an entire physics bachelor would probably be a waste of your time. I would recommend taking some graduate level classes somehow, and acing them, and getting involved in research. A year of this would show that you really do know physics and can succeed at a high level, and the research and classes will get you some good letters. Even a crummy masters program can act as a stepping stone to a good PhD program, or you might be able to register for classes without officially being admitted to a program--my university had something called "open university" where you pay more to take a few classes even without being registered as a student.

skippy
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Re: Need advice: Econ to Physics ...

Postby skippy » Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:00 am

Thanks for the advice! Enrolling in some grad courses at an 'open university' & getting involved in research sounds like a good path to take. (Now if only I could just do-over my undergrad years ...)

slugger
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Re: Need advice: Econ to Physics ...

Postby slugger » Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:28 pm

Its pretty clear from your test scores you are damn serious about physics these days. I am really curious why you didnt pursue physics sooner? Is the interest recent or did someone push you into econ when you were an undergrad?

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satyad18
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help me out guys...

Postby satyad18 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:07 pm

Hai everyone...I'm Satya, doing final year B.tech in Electrical engg., India.
I want to do Master's & Ph.d in Theoretical Physics. I'm looking forward to admissions in Canada or US. I'm yet to write the GRE, Advanced GRE in Physics & TOEFL.
Please give your advices and comments...

blackcat007
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Re: help me out guys...

Postby blackcat007 » Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:30 am

satyad18 wrote:Hai everyone...I'm Satya, doing final year B.tech in Electrical engg., India.
I want to do Master's & Ph.d in Theoretical Physics. I'm looking forward to admissions in Canada or US. I'm yet to write the GRE, Advanced GRE in Physics & TOEFL.
Please give your advices and comments...


Go through this site closely. there are plenty of posts where almost all sorts of issues regarding physics GRE have already been discussed.

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satyad18
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Re: help me out guys...

Postby satyad18 » Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:37 am

Thats great.! Thanks... :D

ncanac
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EE with lack of research and grad school?

Postby ncanac » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:08 pm

Hi,

So here's the deal. I'm an electrical engineering student at UT Austin, entering my senior year, and I'm trying to figure out what I want to do. Well, no, I know what I'd like to do, but I don't know if it's realistic.

I realized too late that my passion is for physics. I loved it in high school, but for several (bad) reasons, I went into electrical engineering. My first year and a half was excellent academically, but I was very bored, and my grades began to dive bomb after that (B's and C's, even a few D's). Then, a little over a year ago, I had a traumatic injury that caused me to miss half a year of school, during which, I spent most of my time reading physics related books. It became more and more apparent that this was what I should have been studying all along.

Now I find myself in this predicament. I really have no choice but to finish the major I'm already 3 years into, and my last year won't allow for a whole lot of flexibility. I have taken some upper level physics (modern physics and optics, and anything related to E&M) and math classes, and lower level astronomy, but it's a far cry from the level of education a physics major would have. The vast majority of my experience has been in engineering internships, and tutoring and grading for EE classes. This summer I managed to find something that might have some weight. I'm working on the HETDEX (Hobby Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment) project here at UT, but although it is called "research", I am still doing more EE related work. But it is giving me a chance to meet and get to know many of the professors in the Astronomy department.

So that's where I'm at. EE, downward grade trend (recently righted, but still about 3.5 GPA), lack of research experience, and not even half a year to try and prepare if I'm going to apply to a physics/astronomy program. My question is, am I being realistic here if I applied (not looking for a top school, clearly)? What can I do to improve my opportunities? Would it be advisable to look for a job instead and pursue this dream sometime down the line? Any and all advice is appreciated. Thank you.

MacCutcheon60
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Re: EE with lack of research and grad school?

Postby MacCutcheon60 » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:45 pm

If you're serious about pursuing graduate school in physics, you should talk to Prof. Antoniewicz (antoniewicz at physics.utexas.edu), as soon as possible. He's the physics undergrad advisor. He'll most likely suggest that you stay for a 5th year. The reason he'll suggest this is that there's really no getting around a lot of the core physics major (intermediate mechanics/intermediate E&M/thermal/quantum), and it doesn't sound like you have room to work those into your schedule for next year.

In order to free up next year for these courses, maybe check with Prof. Antoniewicz to see how many credits you could transfer from EE to physics, should be enough to graduate within five years (four might be difficult) considering the overlap. You should also maybe check, soon, to see what physics courses are being taught this summer. Since the second summer term just started Monday, you might be able to sit in a relevant physics course.

Staying a 5th year allows you to present 3 semesters worth of advanced physics grades to an admissions board and, potentially, a year and a half of research, but most importantly, it'll allow you to get the preparation you'll need for graduate course work.

All that being said, there are a number of EE departments that work closely with physicists. You may even be able to find EE's doing work identical to work being done by physicists. It is, however, pretty difficult to go back to graduate school for physics after leaving college for a few years. Not taking the core undergraduate requirement before those gap years may make it nearly impossible. If money's an issue you might be able to finish in 1.5 years, and stay the last spring semester as a research assistant. If the administration hassles you about the switch, try playing the injury card.

Hope that helps.

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grae313
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Re: EE with lack of research and grad school?

Postby grae313 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:17 pm

I agree, a fifth year isn't all that bad or uncommon, and you should be very prepared for physics grad school afterward.

cato88
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Re: EE with lack of research and grad school?

Postby cato88 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:49 pm

MacCutcheon60 kudos that was one of the post that was one of the alltime most useful to OP I have seen in the forum.

marten
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Re: EE with lack of research and grad school?

Postby marten » Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:10 am

A fifth year would definitely help, and you'd probably be better off with 2 semesters of additional physics classes, but going to graduate physics from EE can be done.

I was in a similar situation, finished an EE degree but realized I really wanted to do physics instead. I worked in industry for 2 years, spent a summer studying for the Physics GRE, and looked into grad schools. It was a nice vacation of sorts. With an EE degree and the equivalent of a physics minor, I made it into a physics grad program with good funding. Of all the engineering to physics transitions to make, coming from EE is probably the best.

But if you could tack on a 5th year, and get a solid physics undergraduate education, you'll be very well prepared for grad school, both for admissions and the graduate courses.

Good luck,
Marten

kushraghav
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HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby kushraghav » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:44 am

HI GUYS i have just completed my b.e. in instrumentation and control engg.
i want to pursue a post graduate degree in physics (ms/phd)
however i have no research exp or papers
i am waiting to join a s/w company in 3 months
i was hoping to write a paper in mean time..i read a lot of physics articles and i have a fair idea of research in physics
i have been reading a book on fractal geometry and applications in physics
whatis ur advice guys..can u give some guidance on writing a paper
and i have heard survey papers are important in field of physics
would it carry the same weight as a normal publication ..

GIVE ME SOME ADVICE REGARDING PAPER PUBLICATION GUYS
ALSO IF I CANNOT PUBLISH A PAPER WOULD A EXCELLENT SUBJECT GRE SCORE COMPENSATE FOR THAT
WHAT UNIV CAN I GET ADMISSION INTO WITHOUT ANY PAPER OR PROJECTS BUT A GREAT GRE AND SUBJECT GRE SCORE( FOR MS..I KNOW FOR PHD A PAPER IS MUST)
PLZ GUYS HELP

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grae313
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby grae313 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:49 am

You can't just write a paper, the type of publications that graduate schools care about are publications of research results. If you are not contributing to research then you won't have a publication. It's not the end of the world, admissions committees understand that the international system focuses more on classes and undergraduates are not frequently involved in research like they are here. It's still a huge plus if you can get a position in a lab, get some research experience and get a paper out, but you can still do perfectly fine without it.

The bigger problem is that you don't have a background in physics. Admissions committees need to see a) that you have an excellent understanding of undergraduate physics and b) that you show great promise to succeed in physics at the graduate level and beyond. The physics GRE helps with a), but having some good grades in your advanced undergraduate physics courses (or graduate level courses) and some professors to write about how good you were in their class is also important. Research experience and potential publications go more towards b).

If you rock the physics GRE and have good marks from your engineering program and have good letters of recommendation, you should probably be able to gain admission to an MS program here even without physics courses, because most highly ranked schools that offer PhDs do not offer terminal masters degrees, so the terminal masters programs tend to be low-ranked and easy to get in to. But you should know that funding is not always readily available in MS programs like it is in PhD programs.

kushraghav
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby kushraghav » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:52 am

CAN I DO SOME THEORETICAL RESEARCH AND PUBLISH

AND WOULD SUBECT GRE SCORE SUFFICIENT TO GET INTO TOP SCHOOLS

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quizivex
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby quizivex » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:58 am

kushraghav wrote:AND WOULD SUBECT GRE SCORE SUFFICIENT TO GET INTO TOP SCHOOLS
A good GRE score is pretty much necessary, not sufficient. And no score would be sufficient anyway if you don't pass the TOEFL.

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grae313
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby grae313 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:59 am

PLEASE DON'T SHOUT

yes you can do some theory research and publish. If you can do this it will be very impressive for admissions, and in that case you should be looking at PhD programs. There aren't really "highly ranked" masters programs... at all of the highly ranked schools, masters degrees are known as sort of a "consolation prize" for people who didn't make it through the PhD program. There is no separate masters program to apply to. Any school that does offer a terminal physics masters is almost inevitably outside the top 20...

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grae313
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby grae313 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:01 am

As Quiz said, there is no physics GRE score that can guarantee you admissions anywhere. The admissions process here looks at your entire application as a whole and does not focus as much on numbers.

kushraghav
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby kushraghav » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:04 am

i am reading fractal geometry applications in physics..i am trying to master the maths..
i am very good at maths..so not much problem..
but as a research topic do you think it would be too difficult for me

Mataka
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby Mataka » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:19 am

Don't rush the publication, you seem to be very eager to publish no matter what, but yet you don't seem to have done any research or even know on what precise topic to work on. Try to ask for a prof to supervise your research, otherwise it will be too hard for you to do original research and publish it.

pqortic
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby pqortic » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:29 pm

you are so concerned about paper while many ppl got admitted without that. the more important thing to care is your physics base. try to pass some advanced physics courses like Mechanics or electro or modern phys if you are allowed in your school with high grades. this will help you to show admission committees that you are interested and have ability for graduate studies in physics.
the second pace would be doing some research and having paper.

mike164
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby mike164 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:32 pm

If you have an engineering degree and if your goal is to do a PhD in Physics at a very good school, there is no easy path to accomplish this goal (atleast for international students).

From my own experience, the best thing to do is to crack the Physics GRE (80 percentile or more) and get into a low ranked school and do your M.S. You might be lucky sometimes to get a TA/RA. Take every single course that a Physics undergraduate would have taken in his junior and senior year in addition to you graduate course requirements. Also join a research group to do your M.S. thesis and try to get a publication or two in leading journals in your field.

This would make you a very strong candidate for any PhD program in U.S. . It will also show the admission people that you are a seriously motivated candidate.

If you are not aiming for top schools, other simple option (as shown by some members in this forum) is to apply to a PhD program in a medium/low ranked school with a very good PGRE (95 percentile or more) and some programs might offer you admission even if you don't have a publication.

kushraghav
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby kushraghav » Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:16 am

guys thnx for ur help but i do not want to go in a low rank phd school
only top ones
i knw its hard but i want to try
i am out of college .most likely i will get my joining in my company in 3 months
so i think i have to do research on my own

DO U GUYS KNW ANYTHING ABT SURVEY PAPER..DOES IT CARRY D SAME WT AS A NORMAL PUBLICATION
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survey_article

blackcat007
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby blackcat007 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:04 am

kushraghav wrote:HI GUYS i have just completed my b.e. in instrumentation and control engg.
i want to pursue a post graduate degree in physics (ms/phd)
however i have no research exp or papers
i am waiting to join a s/w company in 3 months
i was hoping to write a paper in mean time..i read a lot of physics articles and i have a fair idea of research in physics
i have been reading a book on fractal geometry and applications in physics
whatis ur advice guys..can u give some guidance on writing a paper
and i have heard survey papers are important in field of physics
would it carry the same weight as a normal publication ..

GIVE ME SOME ADVICE REGARDING PAPER PUBLICATION GUYS
ALSO IF I CANNOT PUBLISH A PAPER WOULD A EXCELLENT SUBJECT GRE SCORE COMPENSATE FOR THAT
WHAT UNIV CAN I GET ADMISSION INTO WITHOUT ANY PAPER OR PROJECTS BUT A GREAT GRE AND SUBJECT GRE SCORE( FOR MS..I KNOW FOR PHD A PAPER IS MUST)
PLZ GUYS HELP


by looking at your typical misconceptions :D and "B.E" it seems you are from India.. a paper although makes your application very strong, but is in no way a MUST even for PhD.. see the profiles of 2009 in prospective students pages of this forum.
writing something and getting it on arxiv won't serve the purpose of publishing, instead you can do some honest research and if you feel that you have something really new, then you are of course encouraged to publish, your letter of reco from you guide identifying your capabilities will help greatly.
but really since you don't have a base in physics, you should focus on PGRE and get a good score.

yes survey papers or reviews although are pivotal achievements, but require a very wide and deep knowledge of the subject. It is a bit hard for you (at your beginning of your scientific career) to write reviews. They generally contain various new ideas that have been proposed related to the topic especially the recently published ones, you have to go through the latest works going on. and really 3 months might not be sufficient. Remember it is NOT a summary of the topics covered in a book. Instead it will be better to write on something new like a new approach to an already existing solution.

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twistor
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby twistor » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:14 am

wtf

Obviously it does not. Summarizing other peoples' research is not the same as doing your own research. At best it shows you would be capable of writing an essay in English, which means absolutely nothing.

1.) You have no background in physics
2.) You especially have no background in theoretical physics
3.) You have no research experience
4.) Your education is in a wholly unrelated field

Based on these four things I'd say your chances of success are minimal. You'd be well advised to either

a.) Go back to school and get either a B.S. or M.S. in physics while participating in research
b.) Give up and move on
c.) Apply to a low rank school with your current background and cross your fingers

blackcat007
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby blackcat007 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:23 am

twistor wrote:wtf

Obviously it does not. Summarizing other peoples' research is not the same as doing your own research. At best it shows you would be capable of writing an essay in English, which means absolutely nothing.

1.) You have no background in physics
2.) You especially have no background in theoretical physics
3.) You have no research experience
4.) Your education is in a wholly unrelated field

Based on these four things I'd say your chances of success are minimal. You'd be well advised to either

a.) Go back to school and get either a B.S. or M.S. in physics while participating in research
b.) Give up and move on
c.) Apply to a low rank school with your current background and cross your fingers


boy o boy..
Twistor Twistor burning bright, in the forests of the night.

username1
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby username1 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:42 pm

if you think that reading textbooks will enable you to write a paper then you probably don't know what you're getting yourself into with a Phd in physics from anywhere, much less from a top program...

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twistor
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby twistor » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:57 pm

...

what immortal hand or eye
could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Batman quotes that poem in a cartoon I saw when I was a kid...

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grae313
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby grae313 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:45 pm

Also, no one would accept a review paper from someone whose only credentials were a B.E.. Those are usually written by invite--i.e. you are an expert in the field and are asked to write a review paper.

kushraghav
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby kushraghav » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:19 am

u guys hv discouraged me so much..atleat u shud hv given sum guidance on paper publication it wud hv bn nice..but anyways thnx for any help

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twistor
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby twistor » Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:02 am

You want the truth or not?

kushraghav
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby kushraghav » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:00 am

yes i want the truth...actually i always run from hard choices..but i would still try to write a paper by myself and prove everybody here wrong

blackcat007
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby blackcat007 » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:40 am

kushraghav wrote:yes i want the truth...actually i always run from hard choices..but i would still try to write a paper by myself and prove everybody here wrong

Instead of trying to prove everyone wrong,( maybe you are thinking yourself as the modern galileo or copernicus) why not embark on a more meaningful quest of studying the UG course to do good in PGRE and try to do good research in the 3 months you got so that you have a better chance of getting into a good school. we don't even know you, neither you know us, it would be meaningless to try to prove us wrong. since we really don't care what you do.. the true fact is we are here to discuss about PGRE since we have a common aim of going to a good school and do research in physics.. and in addition, the information feed you are getting from your local people are seriously flawed.. eg: a paper is a must for PhD.
instead spend time in this forum, there are tons of things to learn here.

excel
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby excel » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:51 am

You want advice on writing a paper? Well, join a part-time MS program in physics in your home country, and work with a professor in your area of research, while you work in the software company. Then, if you are good and lucky, you may have something publishable in a year or so. After you have something publishable, it takes months for the paper to be actually accepted and published. And, forget about publishing review papers for now. Good journals will not accept any review paper from someone who has no track record of research.
Last edited by excel on Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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twistor
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Re: HELP NEEDED..I AM B.E....WANT TO DO MS IN PHYSICS

Postby twistor » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:11 pm

I wasn't trying to be devastating. I just thought he should know what the reality of the situation was.

navyfan112
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History Major

Postby navyfan112 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:41 pm

So here is my situation. I am in my senior year of college and will graduate this May with a BA in History. Late in my college career, I took some physics courses and couldn’t get enough. Luckily, I will be able to graduate with a physics minor.

The scientific/technical courses I have taken are: General Physics I, General Physics II, Modern Physics, Calculus I, Calculus II, Chemical Science I, and Chemical Science II, Naval Engineering, and Naval Weapons Systems. I have earned A’s in all of them except for B’s in General Physics I and Calculus II. I don’t have a final grade for Modern Physics yet, but I hope to earn an A. Next semester I am taking Modern Physics II, Optics, Nuclear Physics, and will do my best to earn A’s in them as well.

I really want to attend grad school in physics, but that’ll be around 4 years from now because I’m commissioning in the Navy as an officer in the Nuclear Power Program. Once I’m done with my initial sea tour, I will have the opportunity to get out of the Navy and go to grad school, or stay in and do grad school while in the Navy. I would like stay in the Navy for another tour in order to get grad school paid for on top of receiving my regular pay plus benefits. This will limit me to a Masters, but I would want to earn my Ph. D when I finally get out of the military.

I have considered going to the Navy Postgraduate School. It has a very respectable physics program, but I’m not that interested in their areas of research. I’m still not sure what area I’d like to specialize in, but I am fascinated by fusion and plasma physics.

I know I’m looking way into the future right now, but I want to do everything possible to make myself more competitive and prepared for grad school. My biggest concerns are not being considered because of my history degree and making sure I keep with my physics while I’m in the Navy.

I’d appreciate any advice you guys could offer. Thanks!

Undergrad Institution: Small liberal arts military college
Major(s): History
Minor(s): Physics, Military History, Spanish
GPA in Major: 4.0
Overall GPA: 3.84
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: Top 3%
Type of Student: Domestic, male, minority

GRE Scores: Haven’t taken it. I won’t take it until I’m closer to applying to grad school.

Research Experience: No physics related research. However, I will complete an Honors Thesis on Nuclear Waste Policy.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Will graduate Institute Honors(the highest academic achievement at my school), 4 year Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Scholarship, $10,000 Merit Scholarship, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, American Legion Scholastic Excellence Award

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Interned at the Department of Energy the summer after my junior year in the Office of Policy and International Affairs, Academic Mentor certified by the College Reading & Learning Association, Calculus and World History tutor

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Accepted into the Navy Nuclear Power Program. If everything goes well then when I apply to grad school: I will be a Navy Nuclear Power Officer, will have passed Nuclear Power School and Nuclear Prototype School, will have qualified as an Engineer Officer on submarines, and will have qualified Officer of the Deck(means I’ll be in charge of the entire submarine when the Captain is sleeping).


Special Bonus Points: Minority (Hispanic), first generation American citizen, will be a veteran when I apply

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Spent a semester studying abroad at Oxford University (Magdalen College), but took history and Spanish courses.

Applying to Where: Depends on what area I want to focus on.

geshi
Posts: 200
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:01 am

Re: History Major

Postby geshi » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:39 am

This is a very interesting situation for you. Having a degree in history does not necessarily exclude you from programs in physics. Some programs do specify you should have a degree in physics. Most programs have a minimum number of courses you have to take before entering the graduate program (offhand, I don't think you will have completed the expected minimum number of courses). Usually a master's in physics is not something people really go for, however in your case, it might be a good decision. You might find more masters programs willing to take a "risk" (some schools might look at you as a "risk" candidate for not having enough background in the field) on you than PhD programs.

A great resource many prospective physics grad students use for finding grad schools:
http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/
One of my professors in undergrad showed me a big book with all the information that's on that website. This website however is free, I'm not sure about the book. Basically you can look for programs based on location. I'd recommend looking around and flipping through some of the programs and seeing what they view as the "minimum" requirements. Some of them say stuff along the lines of "requires a bachelor in physics or related field." Offhand, I can't think of any that don't specifically say that, but I'm certain I've seen a few around. Although, I did just look at Oregon State U (not the most prestigious program around, but still an okay program) says "requires a bachelors degree" but doesn't specify field.

I'm not sure how ambitious you are. If you're looking for a top level program, you may want to think a lot about taking some extra courses or getting a masters first. If you're happy at any program as long as it has research you're interested in, then you could probably find one.

navyfan112
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:20 pm

Re: History Major

Postby navyfan112 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:20 am

My plan will almost certainly be to get a Masters first. I will be trying to find a school who'll accept me for a Masters degree and then you that opportunity to show I have what it takes to do well in grad school. After finishing that degree I'll have to go back to the fleet for one more tour, but I think getting a Masters will make me a much more competitive candidate for a doctorate.

Even if the Navy let go for a ph.d, I wouldn't want to do until I got out of the military. So that's not something I'm looking at.

Thanks for the advice!

By the way, I have just started looking at different programs, but so far the University of Texas at Austin seems like an excellent match. Gradschoolshopper.com is a wonderful tool.

JesusRock4me
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:47 am

Re: Need advice: Econ to Physics ...

Postby JesusRock4me » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:52 am

Wow, your story is exactly like mine. I majored in Economics and got a 3.16 gpa but now I really want to pursue physics. I'm currently studying the upper div physics material on my own, and I plan to study for the physics GRE as well. But my goodness! Your scores are ridiculously high! Mind if I ask, how did you do it? And how did you study for your physics GRE? Btw, did you graduate from UC Berkeley? Cuz if you did, I think you might be me who traveled back in time by a year or 2! haha jk jk!

pqortic
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:24 am

Re: Need advice: Econ to Physics ...

Postby pqortic » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:18 pm

I think getting a master degree in physics is really helpful in your case. with your current record you can easily get admission to one of the master programs and then you can form a solid physics background, get to know some research fields or do some research (and even publish a paper) and find some professors to write you recs.

navyfan112
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:20 pm

Re: All Other Majors to Physics

Postby navyfan112 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:41 pm

I'm going into my last semester of my undergraduate degree (in history) and was wondering what classes would help me the most.

I've taken:
Calc I, Calc II, General Physics I, General Physics II, and Modern Physics I.

Currently, I plan on taking Modern Physics II, Nuclear Physics, and Optics next semester. I was wondering if I should take Classical Mechanics and/or Differential Equations instead of one of these. I want classes that will both show that I have some kind of physics experience and help prepare me for the PGRE.

Thanks for the help!

pqortic
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:24 am

Re: All Other Majors to Physics

Postby pqortic » Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:46 pm

navyfan112 wrote:I'm going into my last semester of my undergraduate degree (in history) and was wondering what classes would help me the most.

I've taken:
Calc I, Calc II, General Physics I, General Physics II, and Modern Physics I.

Currently, I plan on taking Modern Physics II, Nuclear Physics, and Optics next semester. I was wondering if I should take Classical Mechanics and/or Differential Equations instead of one of these. I want classes that will both show that I have some kind of physics experience and help prepare me for the PGRE.
Thanks for the help!

I strongly encourage you to take classical mechanics or E&M or differential equations instead of nuclear physics or optics. actually the courses you planned to take usually have prerequisites, say E&M for optics and quantum mechanics for nuclear. furthermore, classical mechanics is more basic so use your time and first take the more essential ones.

navyfan112
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:20 pm

Re: All Other Majors to Physics

Postby navyfan112 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:55 pm

pqortic wrote:I strongly encourage you to take classical mechanics or E&M or differential equations instead of nuclear physics or optics. actually the courses you planned to take usually have prerequisites, say E&M for optics and quantum mechanics for nuclear. furthermore, classical mechanics is more basic so use your time and first take the more essential ones.


I can't take E&M, because they are only offering the second semester version. They aren't offering quantum either. The only prerequisites for Optics and Nuclear are General Physics, which I already took.

I will try to take classical, but the problem is that it has differential equations as a prerequisite. I will see if I can take it as a co-requisiste instead.

Thanks for the help!

cybergeek
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:55 am

Switching from CSE to Physics ... need advice

Postby cybergeek » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:04 am

Hi,

I have completed B.Tech. in Computer Science & Engineering in 2008.
I had 8.05/10 CGPA overall in the course.

Currently I'm working for last 1 year in one of the top IT services company in India.

However, I want to switch my field to research in theoretical/mathematical physics (like relativity, quantum mechanics & string theory).

Please suggest how i should approach this.

Thanks a lot in advance...

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Re: Switching from CSE to Physics ... need advice

Postby blackcat007 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:53 am

cybergeek wrote:Hi,

I have completed B.Tech. in Computer Science & Engineering in 2008.
I had 8.05/10 CGPA overall in the course.

Currently I'm working for last 1 year in one of the top IT services company in India.

However, I want to switch my field to research in theoretical/mathematical physics (like relativity, quantum mechanics & string theory).

Please suggest how i should approach this.

Thanks a lot in advance...


http://www.physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2561&p=23909&hilit=mcdonalds#p23909
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2559

I am truly intrigued, why only Indians ask such questions? :lol:

cybergeek
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:55 am

Re: Switching from CSE to Physics ... need advice

Postby cybergeek » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:10 am

Thanks a lot for the links. I really appreciate your help.

But, I should make myself clear, that I do know that it is not easy to switch fields, and I do not hope of getting direct admission to a decent US university right now. I will take the proper steps to ensure that I do get in, in the future. For, I WILL move over to physics in one way or the other.

I plan to do prepare for a MS-PhD (Mathematics) course in the premier Indian Institutes like TIFR, IISc or IITs. And then gradually shift to Theoretical Physics. Do you think that this is a valid plan ?

Please advise.

cybergeek
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:55 am

Re: Switching from CSE to Physics ... need advice

Postby cybergeek » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:58 am

blackcat007 wrote: I am truly intrigued, why only Indians ask such questions? :lol:

That is because in the initial phase of our academic careers we are forced to look for jobs, and when the financial conditions are met whatsoever, we start looking for what will actually bring peace to our inner selves. We have to prove that we can get a so-called 'lucrative' job and then let it go and start all over again. It calls for a lot of inner strength and self-motivation, if u know what i mean. Atleast this applies to me.

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Re: Switching from CSE to Physics ... need advice

Postby blackcat007 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:46 am

cybergeek wrote:Thanks a lot for the links. I really appreciate your help.

But, I should make myself clear, that I do know that it is not easy to switch fields, and I do not hope of getting direct admission to a decent US university right now. I will take the proper steps to ensure that I do get in, in the future. For, I WILL move over to physics in one way or the other.

I plan to do prepare for a MS-PhD (Mathematics) course in the premier Indian Institutes like TIFR, IISc or IITs. And then gradually shift to Theoretical Physics. Do you think that this is a valid plan ?

Please advise.


Switching from one field to another is always possible, but ofcourse takes more effort than normal.

as far as i know for IIT's you need to have a physics background ie a BSc or like. You can aim for TIFR and IISc and also for JEST.

I wouldn't recommend the plan of gradual shifting.. its better to aim first and then proceed, Institutes like TIFR and HRI are exclusively famous for Theoretical Physics in India. so if you want to pursue PhD in India they are the best.
Last edited by blackcat007 on Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:14 am, edited 2 times in total.




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