Applying to Physics Grad 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.

jackshroff40
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:16 pm

Applying to Physics Grad School

Postby jackshroff40 » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:31 pm

I am applying to Ph.D in Physics, in cosmology or/and gravitational physics. I do not know if I should apply for top schools like Harvard, santa barbara, cornell, cal tech, chicago, maryland, University of Texas, Austin, or others based on my academic performance.

I want to share my qualification. Can you guys tell me (persnal opinion, or based on your experience) if I should apply ANY of the schools which I mentioned above? PLEASE!!!!

Undergraduate Instititute: UCLA
Degree GPA: 3.79
Note: I was a transferred student from community college. In my junior, I did so poor. BUT in my senior year, I got almost all A's (11 A's and one A-). I thought to mention if that helps.
Latin Cum Laude Honor
Computer Language which I know: C++, Python, Mathematica, ROOT

Research Experience: 16 months (14 months in Observational Astronomy and 2 months in experimental dark matter group)
Since I am applying this year, I will not be able to go to grad school for this coming year. So I will be doing research in galactic astronomy and will be learning another computer language, IDL.


GGRE Score:
Verbal: 146 (28%)
Quantitative: 153 (56%)
Analytical Writting: 3 (11%)
Physics GRE: Will Update on Dec 10th.


Recommandation: 1st one: professor from observational astronomy with whom I did research (UCLA)
2nd one:professor of lecture class. I took three quantum mechancis classes. I got two A's and one A-. (UCLA)
3rd: Hopefully from professor from dark matter group with whom I did research (UCLA). [I do not really know how good will he write a rec letter for me if he says yes. ]

Others notes: I did my research of last four months I did through senior project.

Please you think I may get in any of the above mentioned school, tell me. Give any other advice too. Thanks.
Last edited by jackshroff40 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:00 pm, edited 4 times in total.

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Applying to Physics Grad School

Postby TakeruK » Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:00 pm

It is very useful to look for people with similar profiles to you on the past profile threads and see how they did. Here's the 2012 thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4274. Just remember that most of the posts will come from the top students, so it's not a representative sample of people you'd be competing with.

A piece of advice would be to apply for astronomy departments that also study cosmology. I guess what I really mean is that sometimes cosmology people will be in an astronomy department, and sometimes they are in Physics so make sure you are widening your search enough to include both programs. At some schools, one of the departments may be lower ranked and thus easier to get into, but you can still benefit by working with the cosmologists in the other department.

My profile is pretty similar to yours -- my GPA is a little bit higher than yours but we will have about the same amount of research experience. I'm not sure about your publication record or how well your LORs will be so we can't directly compare. However, my GRE wasn't that great -- 44th and 53rd percentiles. I was applying to astro and planetary science programs, and for the schools you mentioned, I got rejected from UC Berkeley Astro but accepted at Cornell Astro. I should mention that I'm an international student so private schools were more inclined to accept me than public schools. You can see my profile in the above link for more details.

But based on my experience, I think while no one is ever guaranteed to have a good chance at the top schools like you mention, you are definitely within reach and you should apply to them if you find people that match your interests. But, like all applicants, you should apply to a range of schools.

Another piece of advice though is to use your supervisor from this coming fall (experimental dark matter at UCLA) for your 3rd LOR instead of a prof of your classes. A LOR is supposed to highlight your ability as a researcher -- your transcript is good enough for showing that you are good at classes. Having the 3rd LOR be a lecture prof is OK but since you have a research option, it will really strengthen your application.

jackshroff40
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:16 pm

Which schools should I apply to? Please!!!

Postby jackshroff40 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:01 pm

I am applying to Ph.D in Physics, in cosmology or/and gravitational physics. I do not know if I should apply for top schools like Harvard, santa barbara, cornell, cal tech, chicago, maryland, University of Texas, Austin, or others based on my academic performance.

I want to share my qualification. Can you guys tell me (personal opinion, or based on your experience) if I should apply ANY of the schools which I mentioned above? PLEASE!!!!

Undergraduate Instititute: UCLA
Degree GPA: 3.79
Note: I was a transferred student from community college. In my junior, I did so poor. BUT in my senior year, I got almost all A's (11 A's and one A-). I thought to mention if that helps.
Latin Cum Laude Honor
Computer Language which I know: C++, Python, Mathematica, ROOT

Posters:
Co-author on AAS (American Astronomical Society) Poster-2012

Publication:
The research with I did in observational astronomy will be result in publication in few months and I will be co-author on that paper.

Research Experience: 16 months (14 months in Observational Astronomy and 2 months in experimental dark matter group)
Since I am applying this year, I will not be able to go to grad school for this coming year. So I will be doing research in galactic astronomy and will be learning another computer language, IDL.

GGRE Score:
Verbal: 146 (28%)
Quantitative: 153 (56%)
Analytical Writting: 3 (11%)
Physics GRE: Will Update on Dec 10th.

Recommandation: 1st one: professor from observational astronomy with whom I did research (UCLA)
2nd one:professor of lecture class. I took three quantum mechancis classes. I got two A's and one A-. (UCLA)
3rd: Hopefully from professor from dark matter group with whom I did research (UCLA). [I do not really know how good will he write a rec letter for me if he says yes. ]

Others notes: I did my research of last four months I did through senior project.

Please you think I may get in any of the above mentioned school, tell me. Give any other advice too. Thanks.

Throwaway1
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:33 pm

Re: Which schools should I apply to? Please!!!

Postby Throwaway1 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:35 pm

You really need to figure that out on your own.

Align your research interests with programs at different universities. Make a list of what you want to study, what faculty you might want to work for, and so on.

Get cracka lackin. Lots of work to be done!

dau
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:36 am

Re: Which schools should I apply to? Please!!!

Postby dau » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:21 pm

If you want to have an idea of the profiles of the students that are accepted in each program, you can check the profiles of previous years:

http://www.physicsgre.com/viewforum.php?f=3
(look at the topics called "20xx Applicant Profiles and Admission Results".)

and also

http://www.physicsgre.com/results.php.

Good luck.




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