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Physics_UG Oct8-10 08:50 PM

Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
I am applying to Wayne State's physics PhD program. Does anyone know anything about Wayne's physics graduate program? Is it any good? Will I be able to get a tenure track academic job assuming I do a good post-doc?

I am applying to Wayne because my GRE score is rather low and will keep me out of the more prestigious programs, I believe. Plus, I am not sure how good my letters of recommendation will be. I was already accepted to penn state and arizona state's PhD programs in electrical engineering and I attended ASU for a year. However, I think a physics PhD program is more in line with my interests.

Thanks.

Vanadium 50 Oct8-10 11:07 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2923886)
I am applying to Wayne State's physics PhD program. Does anyone know anything about Wayne's physics graduate program? Is it any good?

How do you define "any good"? I've never seen it ranked above 50 or 60. It's certainly not top 30. But when you come out, you can probably work problems out of Jackson.

Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2923886)
Will I be able to get a tenure track academic job assuming I do a good post-doc?

That's easy. No.

A good postdoc won't gurantee you a faculty position no matter where you graduated from. You need a great, stand-up-and-take-notice postdoc.

Physics_UG Oct8-10 11:11 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Vanadium 50 (Post 2924034)
How do you define "any good"? I've never seen it ranked above 50 or 60. It's certainly not top 30. But when you come out, you can probably work problems out of Jackson.



That's easy. No.

A good postdoc won't gurantee you a faculty position no matter where you graduated from. You need a great, stand-up-and-take-notice postdoc.

ok, well, if I do a "great, stand-up-and-take-notice" postdoc can I get a decent faculty job? I am most interested in teaching at a decent small liberal arts college.

and I define good as in, will it lead to a great postdoc if I do good work?

and I know Wayne is ranked about 30th in terms of NSF funding, for what it's worth.

Vanadium 50 Oct8-10 11:24 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2924039)
ok, well, if I do a "great, stand-up-and-take-notice" postdoc can I get a decent faculty job? I am most interested in teaching at a decent small liberal arts college.

There are no guarantees of a faculty job. Period. And don't think it's easier to get a job at a small liberal arts college. I was talking to a friend who was at one, and they got something like 400 applications for their last position.

Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2924039)
oand I know Wayne is ranked about 30th in terms of NSF funding, for what it's worth.

That's worth nothing. That is a statement about how big the department is more than anything else. Furthermore, physics funding comes from many sources: DoE, NASA, ONR, DARPA, etc. and picking one of them doesn' tell you squat.

Physics_UG Oct8-10 11:31 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
USNEWS ranks wayne 113th. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsa...ankings/page+5 Is that OK?

Maybe I should just do a masters degree at wayne, get my gre score up, and apply to better schools. Michigan State at least will consider me. I sent them my CV and they invited me to come tour their department. However, I didn't mention my GRE score.

Physics_UG Oct9-10 04:59 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Does anyone else have any opinions?

eri Oct10-10 09:07 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
It's not really a matter of ranking. My grad school isn't ranked in the top 100 (they only graduate a few PhD students a year, and rankings are directly correlated to how many people they graduate) but a lot of recent graduates have gotten faculty jobs and great postdocs. It's more a matter of what you accomplish than where you did it.

fasterthanjoao Oct11-10 11:37 AM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2925048)
Does anyone else have any opinions?

Like eri says, it isn't really about ranking. The important thing about PhD programmes is that the university you study at has a good reputation for the field that you work in: not necessarily physics in general. There will be plenty of low-ranked schools have a few great researchers/supervisors - that's what you want to look out for.

twofish-quant Oct11-10 12:25 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2924039)
ok, well, if I do a "great, stand-up-and-take-notice" postdoc can I get a decent faculty job? I am most interested in teaching at a decent small liberal arts college.

You should go into your graduate school program assuming that you will not get a faculty position anywhere. If this is a deal-breaker, then you probably should consider doing something other than a physics Ph.D.

Faculty positions are extremely random. The trouble is that you have so many good candidates for so few positions, that the differences been someone that gets a job and someone that doesn't is tiny, and a *lot* of it has to do with factors that are out of your control, namely funding and dumb luck.

twofish-quant Oct11-10 12:35 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2923886)
I am applying to Wayne because my GRE score is rather low and will keep me out of the more prestigious programs, I believe.

Have you looked at the AIP Directory of Physics programs to see the details of the program. I do know that prestige in astrophysics does *not* follow branding. For example, University of Hawaii has an visible observational program that's better than MIT, and it's harder to get into that department than it is to get into MIT.

Particularly with the smaller schools, they are looking for people with an interest in a particular type of physics. I'm applying to this school because I couldn't get into anything better, does not make for a strong application.

Quote:

I was already accepted to penn state and arizona state's PhD programs in electrical engineering and I attended ASU for a year. However, I think a physics PhD program is more in line with my interests.
You have to be very careful here. You have to have a *really* good reason why you are switching. If it looks to the admissions committee that you switched because you didn't like electrical engineering, they are going to ask why you are sure that you won't get bored with physics after a year.

twofish-quant Oct11-10 12:42 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2924061)
Maybe I should just do a masters degree at wayne, get my gre score up, and apply to better schools.

That's not going to work. If Wayne thinks that you are doing this, they will likely not admit you. Also, it's *really* tough to transfer after getting a masters in physics. The only situations where I've seen this happen was if you have a professor move between schools and they took their students with them.

I think you really need to step back and try to figure out what you want to do with your future. If you wait a year to figure out what to do, it's not going to look bad on an application. If you start on a program, and then find that you really, really don't like it, it's going to be hard to switch.

twofish-quant Oct11-10 12:47 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by fasterthanjoao (Post 2927732)
There will be plenty of low-ranked schools have a few great researchers/supervisors - that's what you want to look out for.

Also, at the Ph.D. level, you will be "branded" as your advisers student. No one much knows or really cares what school you went to, but what people really care about is who your adviser was.

Something else is that once you get into graduate school, you will get yourself in a field of research in which everyone knows everyone else.

Topher925 Oct11-10 01:01 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by twofish-quant (Post 2927859)
Also, at the Ph.D. level, you will be "branded" as your advisers student. No one much knows or really cares what school you went to, but what people really care about is who your adviser was.

Something else is that once you get into graduate school, you will get yourself in a field of research in which everyone knows everyone else.

I think this is really good advice and didn't really realize how true this was until I started my PhD in engineering.

In my opinion, stop caring about the ranking of the university. Figure out what it is you want to spend the rest of your education working on and then find a professor reputable in that area. And then where ever that advisor(s) is, you should aim for that uni.

Physics_UG Oct11-10 03:52 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by twofish-quant (Post 2927834)


You have to be very careful here. You have to have a *really* good reason why you are switching. If it looks to the admissions committee that you switched because you didn't like electrical engineering, they are going to ask why you are sure that you won't get bored with physics after a year.

Honestly, I DID just get bored of EE. I'd rather be doing basic research rather than applied research.

twofish-quant Oct11-10 10:39 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by Physics_UG (Post 2928174)
Honestly, I DID just get bored of EE. I'd rather be doing basic research rather than applied research.

And that's a big, big problem. Suppose, I'm on the admissions committee, and I find out that you really got bored of applied research, how do I know that after a year of basic research you won't get bored of that?

diggy Oct12-10 09:51 AM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Wayne State actually has a surprisingly strong research presence in nuclear-particle for the detector programs at places like CERN. Once you are in some of those big collaborations/projects, what school you went to matters much less than the actual work you do, as long as you are looking to stay in the field.

But as stated above the best course of action to take is to assume you won't land a big-university faculty position, and proceed from there.

Physics_UG Oct12-10 02:01 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by twofish-quant (Post 2928892)
And that's a big, big problem. Suppose, I'm on the admissions committee, and I find out that you really got bored of applied research, how do I know that after a year of basic research you won't get bored of that?

How do you suppose I mitigate this then?

Physics_UG Oct12-10 02:03 PM

Re: Wayne State Physics PhD program
 
Quote:

Quote by diggy (Post 2929537)
Wayne State actually has a surprisingly strong research presence in nuclear-particle for the detector programs at places like CERN. Once you are in some of those big collaborations/projects, what school you went to matters much less than the actual work you do, as long as you are looking to stay in the field.

But as stated above the best course of action to take is to assume you won't land a big-university faculty position, and proceed from there.

I will likely be doing condensed matter physics...not particle physics.

And I just want a faculty position...not necessarily at a big university. I'd b happy with a position at a small liberal arts college.


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