Current Astro student, looking for advice

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Admiralrewd
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:45 pm

Current Astro student, looking for advice

Postby Admiralrewd » Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:57 am

So I am currently a PhD Astro student, at a top tier school. I enjoyed it for a while, but recently I have had some misgivings about moving into academia. After talking to my advisor, as well as a few fellow students, friends, and professors, I don't think it is worth finishing my degree, especially since I am not working in instrumentation or some field which will get me a significantly better job than just my undergraduate physics/math degree.

However, after one of my professors suggested that I might do well in applied physics, since I had a love for physics as well as astronomy, and since "applied physics will almost always lead to a real job and almost never to academia." I am only considering this, but I wanted to get advice on the subject from as many sources as possible before making any decisions.

Specific questions:
What is an applied physics program like? Similar to normal physics?
I assume within applied physics there are lots of fields, what are some of the major ones? C-M I assume, what else?
How hard is it to get into a good applied physics school?
What kind of jobs does it lead to?
What are the top schools?
Any good sources of general information, since I am just learning now.
And any useful information anyone can offer.


Thanks in advance.

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

Re: Current Astro student, looking for advice

Postby grae313 » Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:45 pm

I'm assuming your school doesn't have an applied physics program... check out the websites for Cornell, Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley's applied physics programs. There you will see what courses students typically take, and you will see what kinds of research they do in what major fields. It's similar to normal physics, with a focus on applications (duh ;) ). Typically jobs are research positions in industry, R&D labs, govt labs, consulting, etc.

http://www.aep.cornell.edu/eng10_page.cfm?webpageID=10
http://www.seas.harvard.edu/research/ap ... ysics.html


Admiralrewd wrote:So I am currently a PhD Astro student, at a top tier school. I enjoyed it for a while, but recently I have had some misgivings about moving into academia. After talking to my advisor, as well as a few fellow students, friends, and professors, I don't think it is worth finishing my degree, especially since I am not working in instrumentation or some field which will get me a significantly better job than just my undergraduate physics/math degree.

However, after one of my professors suggested that I might do well in applied physics, since I had a love for physics as well as astronomy, and since "applied physics will almost always lead to a real job and almost never to academia." I am only considering this, but I wanted to get advice on the subject from as many sources as possible before making any decisions.

Specific questions:
What is an applied physics program like? Similar to normal physics?
I assume within applied physics there are lots of fields, what are some of the major ones? C-M I assume, what else?
How hard is it to get into a good applied physics school?
What kind of jobs does it lead to?
What are the top schools?
Any good sources of general information, since I am just learning now.
And any useful information anyone can offer.


Thanks in advance.

User avatar
zxcv
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:08 pm

Re: Current Astro student, looking for advice

Postby zxcv » Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:05 am

Berkeley has an applied physics program?

Maybe you were suggesting Stanford...

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

Re: Current Astro student, looking for advice

Postby grae313 » Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:26 am

zxcv wrote:Berkeley has an applied physics program?

Maybe you were suggesting Stanford...


Oh, yes, I forgot about Stanford (and I almost went to their applied physics phd program... yeesh!) but I did mean Berkeley. It's really hard to find online and and it's an extremely small department and it's called by a funky name but Berkeley has what is essentially an applied physics program.

User avatar
zxcv
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:08 pm

Re: Current Astro student, looking for advice

Postby zxcv » Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:55 am

grae313 wrote:Oh, yes, I forgot about Stanford (and I almost went to their applied physics phd program... yeesh!) but I did mean Berkeley. It's really hard to find online and and it's an extremely small department and it's called by a funky name but Berkeley has what is essentially an applied physics program.
I suppose you are referring to the Applied Science & Technology program? From the few folks I've met here doing it and what I've it, it seems like it has the advantages of potentially being an easier way to get into Berkeley and also having far fewer administrative hurdles like required courses. On the downside, funding may be more difficult. And it may not have quite the prestige of completing a "physics" degree, although that could be just my resentment coming out... no 14 cumulative hours of prelim exams for AST students.




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