Getting Into Grad School with my major?

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Getting Into Grad School with my major?

Postby rich1234 » Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:46 am

Hello everyone,

Im currently a Finance Major at a state school and will graduate in May 2009 if I stay on this track. However, I recently took a physics 221 course and really enjoyed it, so much that I'm considering changing my major to it. I have two options basically, I can finish out my current major and then take the physics core classes i need for the physics gre or I can switch my major to an interdisciplinary major, where I major in both finance and physics, and would graduate in May 2010, the way the physics track is designed at my school, since the physics major itself is so small, it would take 4 yrs if i were to switch my major to physics all together, and an extra 3 1/2 yrs just isn't do able. Anyhow, If I do the interdisciplinary major or finish out my finance degree and take physics courses, which is best? What are my chances of getting into grad school for physics?

and as a disclaimer, I know its early in the game, since Ive only taken 1 physics course, but its one of the few classes Ive really enjoyed thus far in my academic career.

Any advice is appreciated, let me know what everybody thinks.


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Postby KDP » Sat Nov 10, 2007 1:14 am

hey Rich, i think it is possible if you are determined enough. that how it all started for me too. i was an engineering major and after taking a modern physics course, i knew i wanted to do physics. since then i kept on studying physics whether through courses or by myself. i didnt change my major though....because my undergrad school didnt offer physics major but i had a full scholarship deal from it.
but after everything, i ended up at Cornell applied physics which is a damn good place for what i wanted to do (condensed matter physics and nanoscience)

but i suggest that you change your major as soon as possible if you can (if you're really serious about doing physics). that will make your life much easier. and most importantly, get involved in physics research projects and make contributions. that will definitely get you to places.

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Postby grae313 » Sat Nov 10, 2007 3:06 am

To answer just one of your many questions, your chances of getting into grad school really don't depend at all on whether you major in physics, finance and physics together, or finance and physics separately. They depend on your grades, your physics GRE score, your research experience, and your letters of recommendation, and not necessarily in that order. Having a broader experience with outside coursework or degrees can only help, it can never hurt, as long as you demonstrate a focus and an aptitude for physics.

Now, if this interdisciplinary degree only takes one extra year, are you skimping on any of the core coursework in physics or just the electives? It will hurt your chances if you are perceived as not having the strong physics background necessary to be at the level of the other incoming graduate students. However, if you complete the major core courses (upper division mechanics and E&M, quantum, modern, and thermodynamics) and score well on the physics GRE you should be in good shape. If you are going to take these classes anyway to prepare for the GRE, you might as well get the recognition in the form of a degree.

Another bit of advice, hook up with a physics professor doing research that interests you. Do this right away, and do research from now until you graduate. Try to get a publication or two. If there isn't a professor with an opening, get an intership at a nearby lab. If none of this works, apply to REUs for the summer. Just make sure you do research! This is hugely important when applying to the top programs, if that's where you're aiming. If not, solid letters of praise from your research advisor can make up for a lot.

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