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Grad School with BA in Physics?

by dabibbler
Tags: grad, physics, school
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Feb23-12, 12:44 PM
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Right now I'm working towards completing a BS in Materials Science and Engineering along with a BA in Physics in a couple of years. Although I'm not sure whether or not I want to pursue a Master's in Physics, I want to keep that option open for when the time comes.

I've looked at a few grad schools just as examples, and many stated that it was possible to enter physics graduate school without a BS in Physics. Has anyone, in their own experience, found that a graduate school would deny admission for Physics based on the premise that only the Physics BA was completed?

Thank you!
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Feb23-12, 01:44 PM
jtbell's Avatar
P: 11,862
As far as I know, what matters for grad school admission is the courses that you've taken, grades, research experience, and letters of recommendation; not the name of your degree (BA or BS).

What is the difference between a BA and a BS in physics at your university?
Feb23-12, 03:41 PM
P: 5
The difference between the BA and BS is that the BS has about four extra classes, but there's no way I can fit all of that in if I want to graduate in only four years (which I do). So I'd be missing out on some of the higher-level courses, but I can choose which ones I do end up taking.

More detail:
The physics BS from my university mainly consists of five two-course sequences for experimental physics, electromagnetism, statistical physics, classical mechanics, and quantum mechanics as well as a math elective. The BA consists of the first half of each of the sequences, two electives (either the second half of any sequence or another elective), and does not require the math elective.

Right now I'm considering Mechanics 2 and either Quantum 2 or Solid State Physics as my electives, but that could easily change once I get around to taking these classes.

Feb23-12, 05:17 PM
P: 981
Grad School with BA in Physics?

If you want to go to grad school in physics, you'll either need to take the extra courses for the BS at your own school or take them in grad school at the undergrad level before starting the graduate coursework. That makes you less appealing to grad schools. The BA itself doesn't matter (I got into physics grad schools with a BA in physics, because that's all my college offered) but taking more junior and senior classes helps a lot. Plus an extra year would give you more time to get research experience. Quantum II was the one course I wish my undergrad school had offered but didn't.
Feb24-12, 03:01 PM
P: 5
For what its worth, Berkeley offers only a BA in physics
Feb24-12, 03:49 PM
jtbell's Avatar
P: 11,862
Quote Quote by dabibbler View Post
Right now I'm considering Mechanics 2 and either Quantum 2 or Solid State Physics as my electives,
As regards mechanics, IMO you should take Mechanics 2 if it covers Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics and Mechanics 1 doesn't.

For your other elective, I'd go with Quantum 2 because QM is arguably the most important core subject in terms of usage in a variety of fields. If you can also squeeze in E&M 2 that would be great, but if you really have room for only one or the other, I'd go with Quantum 2.

If you do get some Lagrangian / Hamiltonian mechanics in Mechanics 1, then I'd skip Mechanics 2 and do both Quantum 2 and E&M 2.

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