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Programs Applied Physics BS going into Biophysics PhD

  1. May 17, 2012 #1
    So I am currently interested in attaining an advanced degree in Biophysics (preferably a PhD) but have half a year before I start applying to programs since I have already graduated. I dot want to waste the extra time I have and will be seeking an appropriate internship meanwhile. I will have access to a good community college also.

    My question is: what classes should I take to bolster my transcripts? I have not had any biology, but are there other classes I should look for? Computer programming? Organic chem? (I also have a BA in Math)

    One other question: I don't have a particularly high gpa, would it be more advisable to apply for MS programs for a better chance at being accepted?

    Thanks very much for any/all advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2012 #2
    Based on what I've found about the field of biophysics, most programs don't even offer a masters degree. Basically, the only way to get a masters at these schools is to not finish your PhD... they do this so that even if you do not make it all the way though the program, you will still have something to show for it.

    As far as classes to take, I can pass on some advice which I was given to me by a biophysics professor at my school (who's in the physics department). She did not have ANY type of biology as an undergrad. In grad school, her PhD adviser told her that she did not need to take any biology classes even in graduate school because "one could just crack open a biology book and read a chapter to find out how a protein in made. You can learn what you need to know in 30 minutes instead of wasting time on a formal class." Now, I don't know if I really agree with this outlook because in order to be successful in biophysics, you have to know what the interesting biological questions are in the first place...

    When I asked her what classes I should take (as an undergrad), she said take absolutely no biology whatsoever, but instead biochemistry. Also, at least 1 semester of organic would be good although not required... it seems as though there is no such thing as too much chemistry. Also, when asking about CS classes, I was told that they are not really necessary. Programming can be picked up in the lab, and you will not be doing much complex programming anyway unless that is your focus, in which case you would be a CS major anyway. Though, it couldn't hurt to know a little programming

    Sorry for rambling on... it's getting late :zzz:

    I know this was all rather broad, but I hope it helped!
  4. Jun 17, 2012 #3
    Thanks a lot for the input! Broader the better, just trying to get as much information as possible on the subject. My school did not offer any sort of biophysics or professors who could give advice on the subject. I am also toying with the idea of bioinformatics but don't know if I could give up physics.
  5. Jun 17, 2012 #4
    Interestingly, I've been thinking the same thing. Though, I like to say "computational biology" instead of "bioinformatics" just because bioinformatics seems more focused on statistics from what I understand - such as statistical genomics, etc. Computational biology certainly uses statistics to some degree as well but is more broad and may involve nonlinear ODE's and other tools. Also, computer modeling seems to be a larger part of "computational [insert interest here]".

    I'm mostly interested in computational neuroscience, but I could see myself getting excited about any field of biology, really. At the moment, I am going for a BS in Biological Engineering just to keep my options open but math and physics will certainly give you the flexibility to choose computational OR biophysics.

    Good luck!
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