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1st undergrad degree in arts, want to do 2nd undergrad in Physics

  1. Jan 22, 2009 #1
    I had been doing advanced math and physics courses in high school, but chose to do liberal arts in college. Got my degree about a year back. Did the switch because I wanted to explore the arts. But now all I want to do is to do physics/math again (specifically, my interests lie in mathematical physics, quantum mechanics and relativity).

    I checked several universities for the opportunity to do a second undergraduate degree in physics or math, but that doesn't seem to be an option that is widely broadcasted. Have a couple of questions that I hope some might be able to provide answers to:

    (1) If I were to go ahead to apply to undergrad school, am I disadvantaged in any way since I already have a college degree?
    (2) Or should I try for a community college, get two years of physics and math courses there, THEN try for Grad school?

    Thanks a bunch. Any tips appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Yes. Many places will simply not accept students who already have a bachelor's.

    That will not be enough. The last two years curriculum is typically not taught in community college.
  4. Jan 22, 2009 #3


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    (1) Check the admissions requirements for the schools you're looking at. I wouldn't think this should be an issue if you want to go from arts to science.

    (2) I agree with Vanadium50. To get into grad school you need an undergraduate degree in physics, not an arts degree with some community college courses.
  5. Jan 22, 2009 #4
    This is true; it just depends what school you're considering. Georgia Tech, for example, won't even consider you unless the degree you are pursuing is in a completely unrelated field from your previous degree. Even so, you have to satisfy certain course-requirements for the major before you can apply as a transfer student. Other schools have different regulations, I'm sure.
  6. Jan 23, 2009 #5
    I have a previous degree in Kinesiology from a Liberal Arts institution....which was very liberal with the Arts....

    I went back to school for Physics/Mathematics at age 29 (7 years after previous degree).
    I haven't run into too many hurdles.

    It was the best choice I've ever made, if that makes any difference for you.
  7. Jan 24, 2009 #6
    Oh wow, that really surprised me. Is the demand for places in physics that high?

    In the UK, there's such a shortage of physics applicants, admissions tutors are looking for ways to encourage students from all backgrounds. A previous bachelors degree has actually been a huge asset in my application as they know I'm mature, willing and able to handle the work that goes into a degree. And the fact that I'm willing to pay for it all a second time around illustrates that I really want to do it.

    Sorry to barge in, all irrelevant! But I've always been curious about the contrasts between UK/US unis.

    Just to add, I'm 29, did my first degree in business 7 years ago, and am now back at uni in my first year of physics. I'm having a brilliant time, easily the best decision I've ever made too.l
  8. Jan 24, 2009 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    It's not a question of demand. It's simply that some universities (one example is Chicago) have a policy that after a bachelor's degree, one has graduated and therefore should be looking at graduate school.
  9. Jan 24, 2009 #8
    Oh ok, I guess it makes sense if the US degrees have much more flexibility than UK ones. Once you're in, can you keep switching majors as long as you're passing the required courses? Say you started out with the intention of being an english major, but after 2 years decided you wanted to do physics instead, would you be allowed to start over?
  10. Jan 24, 2009 #9

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    Yes, within reason.
  11. Jan 25, 2009 #10
    I'd very much like to hear you elaborate on those hurdles you encountered, and your experience going back to school in general.
  12. Jan 27, 2009 #11
    There really haven't been many true hurdles.

    It seems most university administrators don't seem it necessary to hide their thoughts that a second degree is "weird." I've had numerous people discourage me from a second degree instead of pursuing graduate options with my previous degree.

    I had to deal with the financial aid offices and the registrar (and anyone else I was bumped to) because of the second degree. It seemed I had to prove that my second degree option wasn't just to get financial aid or avoid paying off any existing loans from the first degree. This was really the biggest hurdle.
    I had to go to many offices and make many phone calls to a number of people who all seemed to be so annoyed with the fact that more paper work was involved with the second degree processes.

    Other than that, there hasn't been much. Your professors don't know your past school history, so since you're just another student to them, you don't get hassle there.

    It just seems that every administrative process has been much more of a hassle with the previous degree on my transcripts.

    I still haven't been properly informed about the transfer rate of my previous credits. I can't seem to get an answer on that....I've talked to a number of people in various offices. I'm worried that I'll experience the big hurdle of finding out my current school isn't honoring the credits from my 10 year old freshman courses in my first degree (those courses are exactly 10 years earlier than my first semester on this degree program).

    No one seems to be willing to give me an answer on that....so I'm holding out hope lest I have to take Early European History 101 along with my senior level math and physics...
  13. Jan 28, 2009 #12
    @Troponin, let us know whether you're exempted from Early European History! it would suck to have to take general electives again while doing a second bachelor's.

    @snkk197, I'm not even from the US or UK. I'm from some place else but looking to do the math/physics degree in the US or Europe.

    I guess I'll just have to narrow my schools down and enquire individually about their policies. @Vanadium, damn Chicago!
  14. Jan 29, 2009 #13
    Thanks very much for elaborating on that for me.

    Did you say you're having trouble figuring out which classes will transfer over, or how many credits will transfer over? Or is it simply the fact that the credits are 10 years old that you're uncertain about? I'd found a class equivalency application online, but I'm not sure if that would help if you're concerned about the age of the classes.
  15. Jan 29, 2009 #14

    I'm not too concerned that the classes will transfer. My previous degree is from a more "prestigious" college than the one I'm currently attending. I'm just not sure if there is a time limit.
    It seems that no one is sure on that answer, or no one cares to look in the books and see the University's policy.

    If I have to take "health and wellness" a second time to complete my degree...I suppose I'll just have to suffer through it. lol
  16. Mar 27, 2011 #15
    I did something similar to this - I studied Philosophy and English and I went back to do Physics at age 27 in the UK. Here it's definitely not a problem, maybe you could considering studying here!:)

    I have a question people might help me with. Someone above said US universities discourage people from applying for second degrees. I intend to apply to do a Phd when I'm finished, and I've been considering US universities as well. Will it in any way affect my application if I already have an arts degree?
  17. Mar 28, 2011 #16

    No it shouldn't affect your application at all. Grad schools will only judge you on your physics degree.
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