M.S. Physics after B.Engg in IT (Information Technology)

pranavdave91
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:20 am

M.S. Physics after B.Engg in IT (Information Technology)

Postby pranavdave91 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:54 am

Hi, I have decided to apply for a terminal MS degree in Physics since a B.Engg in IT with no research experience in physics will not be sufficient for a top graduate program. The plan is to get into one of the few schools who do offer an M.S., get cracking (try and get A's), do some research in something I love (this shouldn't be too hard, I have literally filled notebooks with deriving my own little equations and spent hours lovemaking with physics :mrgreen: ), and finally working with professors in my field of interest (so letters of recommendation can be detailed and from people who have seen me work). I'll finish my engineering next year and apply for fall '13. I know if I can just get into a college which provides opportunities for students interested in research, I'll be able to do an incredibly amazing job.

I'm aware that there are too many variables in context but can this plan get me into a top 20 PhD Physics program, preferably Caltech or MIT :wink: ? If yes, please suggest anything I might have overlooked except the uncertainties. If not, please suggest why, and please don't say:

a)There aren't any terminal MS physics programs in the US
b)You've still got a long way to go buddy, it's too early (Let's assume my plan works)
c)It's nearly impossible for an I.T. student to ace an M.S. Physics course (well, try me 8) )

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: M.S. Physics after B.Engg in IT (Information Technology)

Postby TakeruK » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:39 am

Well, your plan is really idealistic so the only things people can really say are the things already on your list of do-not-says! I'm not trying to discourage you, and it's important to set strong goals for yourself. But it also should be realistic -- all the information you've given us just talk about your passion/love for physics. This is important to have, but just love/passion for physics alone is not nearly enough to get into graduate schools!

Without other information like how much physics you know, what courses have you done in Physics, etc. it's hard for us to really say many helpful things to you. But I'll try:

1) You have 1 year left it sounds like -- can you try to get a physics-related research project done in this year at your school? Graduate schools may be skeptical that you are really interested in changing fields if you don't show this by taking courses, doing research, working in physics, etc.

2) You should keep in mind that it's really hard to get into the top schools, there is no surefire plan that will always work.

3) You could consider MSc programs in Physics outside of the US. Canada has funded MSc programs, for example. In addition, our MSc programs are very research based -- you start on a project with a supervisor right away and work on it for 2 years. You will take a few courses along the way (usually 4-6 courses over 2 years) and you will write and defend a thesis at the end. So you will definitely have an opportunity to do research in this type of program.

4) Why are you set on a top 20 PhD program? Yes, they are very good programs but for your specific interest, a lower ranked school might have exactly the person you want to work with or a very strong group in the particular subfield. e.g. For me, the University of Arizona itself may not top the rankings chart, but their Planetary Science program is one of the best in the US.

Basically, what I'm saying is that it's okay to have very strong goals but yours sound very narrow -- your end goal depend on a lot of things working out perfectly. So I'm thinking if you want to go down this route, you really should have backup plans and be more open minded to other programs. What happens if, after you invested a lot of time, effort, and maybe money if not funded, into finishing your MS in Physics but then are not able to get into a top 20 PhD program. What's your backup plan then? Will you be planning to apply to other programs as well?

pranavdave91
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:20 am

Re: M.S. Physics after B.Engg in IT (Information Technology)

Postby pranavdave91 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:43 am

Hey. Thanks for the three suggestions, I do realize my question was a bit hard to answer.

1) My college does not provide physics courses, so there is no faculty I could attack. But I guess I could try and get a connecting point between physics and IT and explore that. (btw I just got a reply from NYU and they advised me to get involved in research....spot on! thanks!)

2) I do realize there's no surefire plan. All I'm looking to do is increase my chances of getting into top schools, which right now are negligible, and which should boost up after a Master's. I realize passion isn't everything, which is exactly why I want to get a Master's to actually "do" physics and prove I'm PhD material and more.

3) Thanks. Truly. I'll take a look at them.

4) Forgive me, I meant to say top 20 PhD programs in my area of interest. Most probably I'll go for either general relativity/gravitation/cosmo/theoretical particle physics, but I'll have it decided before finishing the M.S. I didn't specify applying ONLY to top 20. Surely I would apply to other programs as well. It would be foolish not to. But yeah, I do get your point. I'll look at more than rankings when deciding which schools to apply for PhD.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: M.S. Physics after B.Engg in IT (Information Technology)

Postby TakeruK » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:11 pm

Oops, sounds like I misread the tone of your original message. Good luck on your grad school search -- if you have questions about Canadian schools, particularly UBC, feel free to send me a message :)

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quizivex
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Re: M.S. Physics after B.Engg in IT (Information Technology)

Postby quizivex » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:24 am

@ pranavdave91: Even if everything in your plan works perfectly up to the point when you apply, it would be almost impossible for a non-traditional (i.e. not coming right out of college with a physics BS) Indian student with only 1-2 formal years of physics to get into a top program regardless of what you do at your MS. The standard at US grad programs is very high, especially for Chinese and Indian students from where there are infinitely many brilliant kids with stellar, perfect records on paper applying. IMO you would have to do something really amazing (perhaps via publication or invention) in order to impress top 20 schools enough to get in. A's in graduate classes with a 990 GRE alone might not even be enough for some schools outside the top 20.

I'd suggest looking less into brand name and finding some lower "ranked" schools that match your research interest. As you narrow down your interests during your MS study, try to establish communication one or more profs, tell them about your work and your interest in theirs, and perhaps try to get your foot in the door that way.

pranavdave91
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:20 am

Re: M.S. Physics after B.Engg in IT (Information Technology)

Postby pranavdave91 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:22 am

@quizivex: Right. I get what you're saying. But I did not mean to say I want to get into top 20 only through grades and pgre. The prime purpose of doing a Master's would be to do research and get on with pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Even if that isn't enough, maybe I'll apply for a job somewhere, and apply for a PhD later, after doing my M.S. Thanks.




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