Graduate School

  • 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.

dtorchetti
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:08 am

Graduate School

Postby dtorchetti » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:12 am

Hi,
I am currently enrolled in a B.A Sc. (Bachelor or Arts and Science) program in which I am taking a double major in physics and philosophy. My physics major, however, is less intensive than a regular BSc. physics major and I am told this makes it impossible (or nearly so) to get into a physics graduate program. Is this true? What disadvantages am I at if not? If it is true does anyone have any recommendations given my background and my strong interest in physics which I would like to pursue. Any help or advice would be appreciated,
Thanks

sterculus
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:16 am

Re: Graduate School

Postby sterculus » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:24 am

How much less 'intensive'? What kind of curriculum is required for graduation at your school? Is there any possibility of taking more advanced optional classes to match a more extensive program?

cato88
Posts: 420
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Graduate School

Postby cato88 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:26 am

As long as by the time you apply you have taken a course in Quantum/Thermodynamics/Statistical Physics/E&M / and Mechanics you are fine.

As a freshmen I thought otherwise and tried to take as many as I could then by senior year
I observed that those with the similar PGRE and GPA had close enough results despite differences
in the courses they took after taking the courses I already mentioned. If you need more proof
there are engineering students who apply to graduate school with less physics courses
than the ones I mentioned and have had success as well. Apparently admissions
dont care that much about grad classes and classes after those I mentioned.

nathan12343
Posts: 249
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:34 am

Re: Graduate School

Postby nathan12343 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:17 am

My university (stupidly, in my opinion) awards physics majors in the arts & sciences school a B.A. There's also a B.S. 'Engineering' physics major in the engineering school. The two majors are exactly the same except A&S majors must take humanities electives and Eng majors must take Engineering electives. Both types of majors have success getting into graduate school. As long as you take the full physics coursework, which means, not counting freshman level classes:

2 Semesters of classical mechanics at the level of Thornton & Marion or higher
2 Semesters of E&M at the level of Griffiths or higher
2 Semesters of Quantum Mechanics at the level of Grifiths or higher
Some labs, usually at least 1 analog electronics lab
1 semester of Statistical Mechanics
Math through differential equations and linear algebra (higher wouldn't hurt)

I bet that you could skirt by without 2 semesters of quantum if you could justify it (high PGRE, good research experience). Everything else is just gravy, although you might consider taking some physics electives, especially those that pertain to any research interests you may have. If all of these classes are not required by your major, strongly consider taking them anyway, as electives.

sterculus
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:16 am

Re: Graduate School

Postby sterculus » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:24 am

Yeah, I should mention that I will also get a B.A., which is the only thing my undergrad gives out (as a liberal arts college). I have taken many physics courses, though, and have certainly done very well in terms of grad admissions so it's not inherently a setback.

abeboparebop
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:26 am

Re: Graduate School

Postby abeboparebop » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:35 am

nathan12343 wrote:My university (stupidly, in my opinion) awards physics majors in the arts & sciences school a B.A. There's also a B.S. 'Engineering' physics major in the engineering school. The two majors are exactly the same except A&S majors must take humanities electives and Eng majors must take Engineering electives. Both types of majors have success getting into graduate school. As long as you take the full physics coursework, which means, not counting freshman level classes:

2 Semesters of classical mechanics at the level of Thornton & Marion or higher
2 Semesters of E&M at the level of Griffiths or higher
2 Semesters of Quantum Mechanics at the level of Grifiths or higher
Some labs, usually at least 1 analog electronics lab
1 semester of Statistical Mechanics
Math through differential equations and linear algebra (higher wouldn't hurt)

I bet that you could skirt by without 2 semesters of quantum if you could justify it (high PGRE, good research experience). Everything else is just gravy, although you might consider taking some physics electives, especially those that pertain to any research interests you may have. If all of these classes are not required by your major, strongly consider taking them anyway, as electives.


My school only offers one upper-level mechanics course, so might be overkill.

dtorchetti
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Graduate School

Postby dtorchetti » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:39 am

By the end of my Bachelor degree I will have taken:
1 quantum physics course
1 E&M course (Griffiths)
And a sufficient number of courses in Thermodynamics, mechanics, and Statistical mechanics
I am wondering if this is enough for acceptance to graduate school or not. I'm also considering taking some electives in other upper level physics course...I guess the recommendation would be to do another E&M or quatum course?

WakkaDojo
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:10 am

Re: Graduate School

Postby WakkaDojo » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:42 am

dtorchetti wrote:By the end of my Bachelor degree I will have taken:
1 quantum physics course
1 E&M course (Griffiths)
And a sufficient number of courses in Thermodynamics, mechanics, and Statistical mechanics
I am wondering if this is enough for acceptance to graduate school or not. I'm also considering taking some electives in other upper level physics course...I guess the recommendation would be to do another E&M or quatum course?


I didn't take much more than that, and I got some very nice acceptances (though I also had a math major and numerous directed studies). I would say get good grades in those classes and you should be all set, even for top tier schools.

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

Re: Graduate School

Postby Maxwells_Demon » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:22 pm

nathan12343 wrote:My university (stupidly, in my opinion) awards physics majors in the arts & sciences school a B.A. There's also a B.S. 'Engineering' physics major in the engineering school. The two majors are exactly the same except A&S majors must take humanities electives and Eng majors must take Engineering electives. Both types of majors have success getting into graduate school. As long as you take the full physics coursework, which means, not counting freshman level classes:

2 Semesters of classical mechanics at the level of Thornton & Marion or higher
2 Semesters of E&M at the level of Griffiths or higher
2 Semesters of Quantum Mechanics at the level of Grifiths or higher
Some labs, usually at least 1 analog electronics lab
1 semester of Statistical Mechanics
Math through differential equations and linear algebra (higher wouldn't hurt)

I bet that you could skirt by without 2 semesters of quantum if you could justify it (high PGRE, good research experience). Everything else is just gravy, although you might consider taking some physics electives, especially those that pertain to any research interests you may have. If all of these classes are not required by your major, strongly consider taking them anyway, as electives.


Personally, at least at my school, the Engineering Physics major is very intense, because it simply has more physics in the major (much more intense than a regular physics BS). In fact, the Engineering Physics major here requires more physics courses (requires upper division Optics, and MSE course, ECE course, CE course, and AME course including fluid dynamics... etc.). In the past there is usually 2-5 people graduating with it a year, whereas the regular physics BS class is ~40. The Engineering Physics students are usually stronger graduate candidates than the regular physics BS candidates (they end up in better places, and their skills are stronger), on average, not always the case. Engineering Physics may have this similar reputation, but at least at my school it's a highly regarded program both in the college of engineering and college of science. Due to budget cuts, however, the program will be cut..... lol

-Maxwell's Demon

Argonic
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:57 pm

Re: Graduate School

Postby Argonic » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:51 am

dtorchetti wrote:By the end of my Bachelor degree I will have taken:
1 quantum physics course
1 E&M course (Griffiths)
And a sufficient number of courses in Thermodynamics, mechanics, and Statistical mechanics
I am wondering if this is enough for acceptance to graduate school or not.


I am graduating in may with a BA in physics from a tiny liberal arts school. I only took one semester of mechanics, one semester of E&M, one semester of quantum, one semester of stat thermo, and a couple of other random physics and engineering classes. (I think I took all they offer, which is not much.) It sounds like you will have taken more relevant classes than that by the time you graduate so I can assure you that you can get into graduate schools with that. I am not sure what kind of schools you would like to go to but I was accepted at Rice, Brown, Carnegie Mellon and BU. And if you do really well on the PGRE (which I didn't) then you can probably even get into better schools than that. So don't be discouraged.




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