How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

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Guitarfire
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:50 am

How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby Guitarfire » Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:51 am

I'm an international student.I graduated this year and would like to apply for a PhD next fall.I would really like to do my PhD in High Energy theory.I am not saying this by watching Brain Greene's Episodes,I know how difficult it is.And,I don't really consider ranking as a good measure.Right now,I am working as a project student and my work is mainly experimental and related to Condensed matter.It's not that I don't like experiments but I have a special interest on High energy theory,not strings but something related to Field theory.
I know it is really difficult to get into High energy theory because it is extremely competitive and low-funded.I want to be realistic and what I can do to my profile that can increase my chances of getting into a university?I have more than six months.Can you suggest me anything?
Thanks in advance..

admissionprof
Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby admissionprof » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:48 am

Guitarfire wrote:I'm an international student.I graduated this year and would like to apply for a PhD next fall.I would really like to do my PhD in High Energy theory.I am not saying this by watching Brain Greene's Episodes,I know how difficult it is.And,I don't really consider ranking as a good measure.Right now,I am working as a project student and my work is mainly experimental and related to Condensed matter.It's not that I don't like experiments but I have a special interest on High energy theory,not strings but something related to Field theory.
I know it is really difficult to get into High energy theory because it is extremely competitive and low-funded.I want to be realistic and what I can do to my profile that can increase my chances of getting into a university?I have more than six months.Can you suggest me anything?
Thanks in advance..


Your degree is in Electrical Engineering. The first thing a high energy theory group will want to see is that you've taken the full range of undergraduate quantum and a course in undergrad particle physics (the books by Griffiths, for example). And I mean courses, not just reading on your own. The second thing is a high PGRE score. The third thing is an SOP that explains why you want to do HET.

You say rankings don't matter. The average number of new faculty jobs in HET in the US the past few years is less than 10 per year. Almost all of those come from Princeton, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, etc. Rankings may not matter to you, but they matter to those who might hire you. Given that the chance of a permanent position in HET is so absurdly low, you might think hard about why you want to do it, and what your long-term plans would be.

Guitarfire
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:50 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby Guitarfire » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:42 pm

You took time to look up my previous posts.I forgot to mention that my undergraduate is in Engineering.I really appreciate your help.I am really passionate,and I would like to show that in my application.I even have the chance to join here in my country,as an Masters student and take advanced level courses.This delays my PhD even more,and so I kept aside the idea.Our undergraduate program is not that bad,we had four mathematics courses,one year long physics course(including some quantum mechanics) and Electromagnetic field theory.
I understand your point,I know the the chances of getting employed in HET are very low.I want to pursue my PhD in the field that really interests me.It feels inappropriate to mention something else in my SOP,when they ask for my real research interests.Thanks for your response..

admissionprof
Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby admissionprof » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:02 pm

Guitarfire wrote:Our undergraduate program is not that bad,we had four mathematics courses,one year long physics course(including some quantum mechanics) and Electromagnetic field theory.


One year long physics course (which includes some quantum) and EM field theory would not be enough to get you into our graduate program, and we aren't top 20. And HE theory makes it even less likely. I think a Masters in physics would be needed (at least the masters level courses - the degree isn't important). Good luck.

bfollinprm
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Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:55 pm

Yes, get a masters. Your application is a joke without at least one full semester of advanced undergraduate quantum mechanics. It's likely you'll also need statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, relativistic E&M, and possibly some more work in math methods. I know a few engineer-types who ended up in our first year courses when the applied science department dissolved here at Davis, and they really struggled with the math methods class. Admissions know this, and need to see proof that you know your stuff well enough to survive before they commit to funding you.

Guitarfire
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:50 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby Guitarfire » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:00 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Yes, get a masters. Your application is a joke without at least one full semester of advanced undergraduate quantum mechanics. It's likely you'll also need statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, relativistic E&M, and possibly some more work in math methods. I know a few engineer-types who ended up in our first year courses when the applied science department dissolved here at Davis, and they really struggled with the math methods class. Admissions know this, and need to see proof that you know your stuff well enough to survive before they commit to funding you.


Thank you for the response.Masters is always a possibility.I will look into that,and definitely join. This site has loads of information for physics students.I could have saved my one year,if I found this site little earlier.

Guitarfire
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:50 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby Guitarfire » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:08 pm

admissionprof wrote:
Guitarfire wrote:Our undergraduate program is not that bad,we had four mathematics courses,one year long physics course(including some quantum mechanics) and Electromagnetic field theory.


One year long physics course (which includes some quantum) and EM field theory would not be enough to get you into our graduate program, and we aren't top 20. And HE theory makes it even less likely. I think a Masters in physics would be needed (at least the masters level courses - the degree isn't important). Good luck.


I am doing a project at an university right now.There is a possibility that I can register for the advanced level courses taught here,but that would be unofficial.Would admissions committee take them into account?I looked up your previous posts and you said that anything which is not official would not be considered.If I am able to get a mention from the professor that I had actually taken the courses,would you consider that?

admissionprof
Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby admissionprof » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:26 pm

Guitarfire wrote:I am doing a project at an university right now.There is a possibility that I can register for the advanced level courses taught here,but that would be unofficial.Would admissions committee take them into account?I looked up your previous posts and you said that anything which is not official would not be considered.If I am able to get a mention from the professor that I had actually taken the courses,would you consider that?


Letters from a bunch of professors (we aren't talking about one course) saying what your grade would have been had you officially taken it would certainly help (it would be sufficient for us). But there are a lot of courses you seem to be short, not just one.

Guitarfire
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:50 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby Guitarfire » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:35 pm

Oh!This concludes that only doing a masters would help me pursue my passion.Thanks for the quick and straight to point responses you gave.Very appreciated!I need to think about this and asking my professor directly would be correct choice(although,I am not sure how would he react if I utter the word HET).

bfollinprm
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Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:40 pm

Nothing we've said is unique to HET. It's true that no matter what type of physics you want to pursue (aside from maybe instrumentation/accelerator physics at lower-ranked schools) you will be expected to have a broad and complete background in physics.

kangaroo
Posts: 130
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:31 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby kangaroo » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:09 am

My only question is how would you even know you're interested in something "related to field" theory if it sounds like you had little to no exposure to it? Have you at least opened a copy of Peskin and Schroeder and worked through the problems? HET is one of those things that sound really cool, but only once you dive into it one realizes just what a massive mess it actually is. If you don't have prior research experience specific to HET, no school is going to be convinced about your commitment to HET.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:40 am

Excellent point. I find that a lot of people, when they say, "I want to do HET!", really mean, "I want to take more classes in HET." Of course, no one is going to agree to fund your PhD just so you can take more classes.

Few undergrads realize that many, many subfields--including high energy experimentation, condensed matter theory, cosmology, and information theory--can require as intimate a knowledge of field theory as HET. All these subfields are in more demand, have a less dire funding situation, and (in my opinion) have a wider range of imminently tractable unsolved problems.

Guitarfire
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:50 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby Guitarfire » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:26 pm

kangaroo wrote:My only question is how would you even know you're interested in something "related to field" theory if it sounds like you had little to no exposure to it? Have you at least opened a copy of Peskin and Schroeder and worked through the problems? HET is one of those things that sound really cool, but only once you dive into it one realizes just what a massive mess it actually is. If you don't have prior research experience specific to HET, no school is going to be convinced about your commitment to HET.


Yes,I agree.I might not have exposure,that is the reason I asked the question in the first place.I asked my professor and he replied that it would be suicidal for my career as far as opportunities are concerned.He gave me a book on QFT and said to read it and then decide for yourself.
Your last point is actually good,it answered my question.I am not going to run away without even trying.

Guitarfire
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:50 am

Re: How to build up a good profile for doing High energy theory?

Postby Guitarfire » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:51 pm

I decided not to apply for a Graduate School this year. In case if anyone is wondering, I joined as a Masters student in Physics. Thanks you all... :D




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