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Applying for Medical Physics Phd

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  • Thread starter hcaulfield85
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  • #1

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Hi all,

I am just looking for some help in applying for a medical physics Phd, preferably in the area of Radiation Therapy. A bit of background: I have a B.A. in Physics and a M.Sc. in Medical Physics from Trinity College Dublin. I also have two years experience as a part II clinical scientist trainee in the UK. Basically a residency trainee program. I am interested in doing a Phd and I have been looking at programs in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. However, I have not seen many projects come up to apply to. Is it the norm to just contact groups directly and see what they have? I have done this before for programs in the USA and I was told that you need to apply for the graduates program for admission first. Is this correct? Can anyone give me any information they have on applying for medical physics Phds, especially if they were an international student applying or any other advice they have?

Thanks

h
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Choppy
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In the US and Canada you are generally accepted into the graduate program first and then once you've completed your graduate coursework, you begin work on a PhD project.

However, most programs should be willing and open to talk about the projects their current students are working on as well as potential projects in the coming years - especially with prospective students. And as a student, you should have a good idea of the projects that are available through the program you're considering.

Have you considered Canadian programs? We have a number of CAMPEP-accredited programs.
 
  • #3
Thanks for your reply. Excuse my ignorance but what exactly is the graduate program and what does it entail? In Ireland/UK/Europe you can start a Phd after you have obtained your bachelors degree if accepted.
I have considered Canadian programs. I just haven't researched them much. Are there any Phd programs available and are they difficult to get accepted into as an international student?

Thanks again,

h
 
  • #4
Choppy
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Thanks for your reply. Excuse my ignorance but what exactly is the graduate program and what does it entail?
When I say "graduate program" I'm referring to either a Master's or PhD program. In North America a PhD in medical physics requires you to complete a set of didactic coursework (radiation physics, imaging, nuclear medicine, treatment planning, radiation biology, anatomy and physiology, etc. - sometimes including other advanced 'core' physics classes like electrodynamics and quantum mechanics) and then complete a thesis project. This is after you've completed an undergraduate degree.

I have considered Canadian programs. I just haven't researched them much. Are there any Phd programs available and are they difficult to get accepted into as an international student?
Go to the CAMPEP website: http://www.campep.org/campeplstgrad.asp
I hope I'm not missing any, but they are:
- Carleton University (Ottawa)
- McGill University (Montreal)
- University of Alberta (Edmonton)
- University of British Colombia (Vancouver)
- University of Calgary
- Universite Laval
- University of Manitoba (Winnipeg)
- University of Victoria

The University of Toronto, McMaster University and the University of Western Ontario (London) also have graduate programs in medical physics, but to my knowledge they are not accredited, which would present a challenge if you were interested in obtaining certification with either the CCPM or ABR.

I know they all accept international students. I can't say if any one is particularly more or less favourable towards international students.
 
  • #5
I think I understand now, thanks. If I have already completed a Masters, that would have covered most if not all of the coursework, will I still need to do it or would I just be able to start the thesis project?
I have just browsed over all of the universities on the site and a lot of them have research groups in areas that would interest me. However, I notice that there is an application fee for each graduate program application. I didn't know this and it's not the norm in the UK I don't think. This would be a main stumbling block as I don't think I could afford to apply to many of them with the drawback that I might not get selected for any. Is there any way of gauging my credentials against other potential or past applicants or anything like that?

Thanks again

h
 
  • #6
Choppy
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I think I understand now, thanks. If I have already completed a Masters, that would have covered most if not all of the coursework, will I still need to do it or would I just be able to start the thesis project?
They would look at the courses you've taken and decide whether or not to recognize them and give you credit, but I don't think there are any guarantees. It's something work emailing a few of the schools and asking about.

I have just browsed over all of the universities on the site and a lot of them have research groups in areas that would interest me. However, I notice that there is an application fee for each graduate program application. I didn't know this and it's not the norm in the UK I don't think. This would be a main stumbling block as I don't think I could afford to apply to many of them with the drawback that I might not get selected for any. Is there any way of gauging my credentials against other potential or past applicants or anything like that?
For sure, those application fees can add up. What I would suggest is that you spend some time reading about each program and then when you're really serious about a few of them, you just go ahead and contact them with some specific questions. Most schools should be able to tell you what a competative GPA has been in recent years. The fact that you have a master's degree and experience in the field will work in your favour.
 
  • #7
Thanks for all your help. Some last questions if you don't mind. If I get accepted on to the program is it funded while I do my coursework or does it depend on the university? Presuming I have to do it before starting my Phd which I presume is also funded.

Thanks again,

h
 
  • #8
Choppy
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Thanks for all your help. Some last questions if you don't mind. If I get accepted on to the program is it funded while I do my coursework or does it depend on the university? Presuming I have to do it before starting my Phd which I presume is also funded.
It varies from school to school. In most programs the graduate students have the opportunity to do QA work and get paid as "physics assistants" which ends up being approximately equivalent to a typical teacing assistanceship. In some places a certain level of support is quaranteed. In others it isn't.

In Canada graduate students are also strongly encouraged to apply for external funding in the form of scholarships. One of the advantages of medical physics is that you can apply for an array of awards that ranger from those that focus more on pure science (NSERC) to some of the medically oriented ones. The major advantage of such awards is that you are then free to work completely on your thesis.
 

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