Applied Physics- all about it

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

Maxwells_Demon
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:09 am

Applied Physics- all about it

Postby Maxwells_Demon » Sat Jun 21, 2008 9:37 pm

Hello friends,

I have disappeared for a while, but it looks like I'm back in the game. Thanks to all for sharing your knowledge/wisdom, and congratulations to those who got accepted to good places!

I plan on applying for Applied Physics (AP) Ph.D. programs this year. This is because AP programs seem to be more interdisciplinary than just Physics, and since my current majors are Engineering Physics and Applied Math, I think my skills and interests fall in the AP realm. I currently don't plan on becoming a university professor, but rather I see myself working for government or private sector. However this can all change.

Regarding AP programs, I am unable to find a professor in my department that can help guide me to AP programs. The graduate head of my physics department has told me that a masters in physics is meaningless, and can probably hurt, as it is a "Scarlet Letter" of being a Ph.D. dropout. I will perform my own research, but basically I'm asking this for those who applied to (and attend) AP programs:

1) Are there other reasons to pursue AP (rather than Physics Ph.D. programs) other than the fact it is simply a more interdisciplinary field? The way I see it, the main difference between AP and Physics Ph.D. programs is that AP Ph.D. programs include subfields from engineering, applied math, and physics, as a Physics Ph.D. program would include only subfields in physics. Is this true?

2) After reading numerous posts, I see that a masters in AP isn't necessarily a bad thing like the Physics masters, and one can even apply to a Ph.D. program after a masters in AP. Is this opinion, or does someone have information about this?

3) I'm starting to perform my research in what schools I'm applying to. Sure, I'd like to get in some good/excellent programs, but I really need to see which AP programs are best for me. Has anyone done this for AP? If so, if you are willing to give any advice about AP programs across the USA then I (and hopefully others) would be greatly appreciated. (Like which subfields in AP are the best in what places, etc., or maybe which AP are best in general).

The thing that bothers me, is that I'm not exactly sure what subfield in AP I am really interested in. I have some ideas, but I'm not sure. It seems a lot of people are sure what subfield they are interested in, but some don't know (like me)...

Thank you kindly for your time in reading this post. I hope this post helps all those AP seekers in the future. I apologize if these questions are answered somewhere in forum, but I searched the forum and have been unable to find them to satisfy my desire of knowing.

Best,
-Maxwell's Demon

rohan
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2007 3:05 am

Re: Applied Physics- all about it

Postby rohan » Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:27 am

okay...... we're in a somewhat similar position ( though im an electrical engg student ) and im applying to the following applied physics programs:
Cornell
Harvard
U Chicago

I was looking for really broad programs which actually allow me to study a bit longer before I start doing some useful research. I absolutely loved the harvard program ( but that may be a little beyond me :P )

such a program may help you in deciding exactly which sub field of applied phy you want to pursue.

Maxwells_Demon
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:09 am

Re: Applied Physics- all about it

Postby Maxwells_Demon » Wed Jun 25, 2008 4:27 pm

Why exactly did you love the Harvard program? Have you visited it?

I might visit Stanford's soon.

-Maxwell's Demon

rohan
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2007 3:05 am

Re: Applied Physics- all about it

Postby rohan » Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:35 am

the fact that it was very ...ummm... vague :P

Maxwells_Demon
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:09 am

Re: Applied Physics- all about it

Postby Maxwells_Demon » Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:58 am

You loved the program cuz it was vague? :(

Looking on this forum, I see the top Applied Physics programs being Caltech, Stanford, Cornell, Harvard... The decent programs are U of Michigan, Yale, Columbia....

Can others elaborate their opinion/research on this? From what I've seen, Caltech's Applied Physics was ranked #1 from some ranking program a few years back, and the breadth of possible research programs at Stanford is amazing. Harvard's seems pretty broad too, and so is Cornell's. Yale's program is a bit smaller, according to the website... Columbia's sounds pretty cool.

That's the extent of what schools I've looked into. I can't really find any 'applied physics' programs other than that :/. Well, there's Rice, and a couple others, but yeh...

-Maxwell's Demon

User avatar
grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Applied Physics- all about it

Postby grae313 » Sun Jun 29, 2008 12:20 pm

I wasn't impressed with Stanford's applied physics program. Their condensed matter facilities aren't as good as some of the other places I went to (Cornell, Berkeley, UCSB), but mostly I just didn't find the research they were doing very interesting. If you can find a handful of groups that are doing interesting research on their website, however, it may be a different story for you because I couldn't.




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