justwondering wrote:I have an undergrad business degree, so on my official transcript, it does not list anything remotely related to physics. However, I audited all the physics courses that were available at my school, had good showings on Putnam, and scored 900+ on the GRE, taken senior year.
However, I've been working at a hedge fund (DE Shaw) for the past eight years and have no formal academic experience (research, publication, etc). I'm 29 now, looking to apply in a couple years. Could you all offer some insight into what I might expect when that time comes? And also, if you could suggest how I might consider spending the next 1-1.5 years to immerse myself into the physics community?
1. How long do GRE scores last? I thought they were only valid for 5 years or something. You may need to retake the exam.
2. If you audit a class, it means you don't officially have a grade, right? This might cause problems during the application process.
Check on the GRE thing first. Then, I would call up a graduate program and explain your case, and ask them if you meet the *official* (bureaucratic) requirements for admission. If so, you'll want some physics research experience. If you call up a couple programs and they tell you that you are a candidate for admission, you'll want to secure a research position for the next year and a half. Also, if you impressed any physics professors during your audits, a letter of recommendation from them would help. That's a long time ago. Anyone that would remember you? You'll want letters from people that can speak about your potential as a physics researcher
Remember, the entire goal of your application is to demonstrate that you will be a successful physics student and researcher during grad school, and then proceed to have a successful career afterwards. In my opinion, your background won't hurt you--it may even help by making you stand out. You still need to demonstrate that you are passionate about physics and capable of successfully completing a PhD program, and you need to meet official requirements.