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AMO Physics graduate at UC Boulder

  1. Jan 9, 2014 #1
    Hello, I am a currently a masters student in biomedical engineering with an interest in optics and am planning on applying to UC Boulder for AMO physics for my Phd and was wondering if there are any graduate students from UC Boulder in AMO physics who can give me some advice with regards to the admission process. How hard is it to get in?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2014 #2


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    I am not a grad student, but I have been a postdoc at CU Boulder (or rather JILA) last year and seen the crowds of students being led around on recruitment day and talked to the faculty around about how the numbers developed.

    First off, JILA is top notch in AMO, so jumping across from biomed engineering will not be the easiest task and will require a lot of hard work. I suppose you have already done all the necessary coursework to be admitted and have reasonably good grades. The typical way to go to a PhD is to start straight after the bachelor, but this is not necessarily the only way.

    The recruitment day last year saw a reasonable number of students, but a good part of the people went elsewhere. Part of the reason may be that Boulder is a nice, relaxed and sunny place to live, but for a pretty moderately sized town, living there is pretty expensive. That turns some people away. The real AMO groups (Jun Ye, Debbie Jin, Eric Cornell, Cindy Regal and maybe Heather Lewandowski) are pretty small and do not have too many people. Those who make it there are really good. So even if you make it, there is still a reasonable chance that you may end up doing a different topic. There are other groups working on topics ranging from biophysics to chemical physics and quantum information.

    If you have some doubts whether your background is sufficient contact the people at CU. They can usually provide you with a good estimate of your odds.
  4. Jan 14, 2014 #3
    CU Boulder will require some luck to get accepted unless you have a very top notch profile. You can look at gradschoolshopper to get an idea of average scores of admitted applicants as well as physicsgre for more detailed profiles. There are other AMO groups than Cthugha listed, but they are more applied as opposed to focusing on fundamental physics.
  5. Jan 15, 2014 #4
    I applied there less than a decade ago with a 3.8 GPA and a ~60% on the physics GRE and did not get in. I came from an average state school with a small amount of undergrad research.

    I suggest going to physicsgre.com forums and looking through profiles of the past years. You might be able to see some people who got in and what their application was like.
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