1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Biology and Physics advice

  1. May 8, 2008 #1
    Just a little bit of backround....I've recently finished my biology major but haven't graduated yet. About 3/4th the way through my bio major I started taking my physics prereqs. Instead of the general physics Bio major were only required to take I decided to take Engineering level physics. I enjoyed these classes so much I decided to pursue a minor in physics and then decided to get a double major, I have one year left of physics. Here's where I'm not sure what to do...

    To be honest, my biology grades aren't very spectacular, B range, and my gen ed classes aren't that great either, also B range. My physics grades so far have been all A's, but my math grades are a bit lacking. All and All my grades are probably around a 3.0...I've been looking into medical physics and biophysics but feel like my grades are rather lacking when trying to get into a grad school...

    If I graduate with a biology and physics major and am unable to get into a grad school ..what should I do? I feel that because of my lacking math grades I'm unable to do pure grad level physics (having a very hard time with Electromagnetism)...help...:confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2008 #2

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    What, exactly, do you *want* to do? What interests you? Have you considered biomedical engineering, for example?
  4. May 9, 2008 #3
    I want to do Medical physics as I feel it is more of a field leaning towards the biology aspect of the physics field.
  5. May 9, 2008 #4
    How about trying to get some experience with a Professor in your last year? This might be a good reference in your application to Grad School, and if you prove to the Physics professor that you have a good understanding he will probably write that down as well. I am sure then that the Grad School won't mind as much.
  6. May 9, 2008 #5


    User Avatar

    Try and start this summer if you can as starting in the Fall will mean you're beginning a project, applying to grad school, and senior level classes. The amount of work there could be pretty daunting for a meager app boost since you might not have much to show for it or not enough experience with the Prof. for a great letter of rec. Starting in the summer, however, would maybe lead to a coauthored paper before apps are due and a great letter of rec.
  7. May 9, 2008 #6
    Vid thanks for the addition, I myself have never gone through the process of graduate school admission so don't have experience.
  8. May 9, 2008 #7


    User Avatar

    Neither have I, but applying to 6 REUs was annoying enough to realize applying to grad school is going to suck.
  9. May 9, 2008 #8
    Dangsy, you still have options with your GPA. I got into a (decent) graduate school with ~3.2 (granted my last two years were immensely better than my first two), so you can probably get in too. If you get a PhD and decide you want to do medical physics, you could do a medical physics postdoc and get a job. Alternatively, you could just get a master's degree in medical physics, which would be shorter. As far as I know, biophysics requires a PhD, so perhaps the question you should ask is whether you want to do biophysics or medical physics. The former is three more years of school than the latter, so if you happen to know exactly what you want to do right now, it could save you quite a bit of time.
  10. May 10, 2008 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Some thoughts:

    Medical Physics is a profession as well as an academic discipline. That means as well as the research there is a clinical component to the work - calibrating linear accelerators, quality assurance work, radiation protection, etc. As a result, the pay is generally better. Biophysics is an academic discipline.

    I would second the thoughts of the person who suggested getting involved in a research project. If you can do a senior thesis project that leads to a publication that will be a great help to any grad school application.

    With respect to marks the real question is why they are where they are. If you're stuggling in undergrad, unfortunately the subject matter doesn't get easier. It does however get more specialized and some people find that they can learn more easily when they have their own project to pursue as opposed to learning about what seem like randomly chosen topics.
  11. May 10, 2008 #10
    Well I think he has proven to himself that he is better at math and Physics, rather than Biology. Dangsy did state earlier that his grades were most probably down due to the B+ he keeps getting in Biology. But I think if we are to discuss Medical Physics, the committee will look more to your physics and math grades rather than your bio grades. But that is just me, I am not sure.
  12. May 15, 2008 #11
    May I remind you that you have taken Engineering level physics. Which is easy. Don't go switching majors because of some introductory courses. I'm just warning you because it gets way harder. I don't think you're ready for grad school in physics.

    But if you truly found a liking to physics, you can attempt to take more courses. B isn't that bad, I'd try to get some rec's. B may not be spectacular, but its not a C.
  13. May 15, 2008 #12
    Getting straight A in intro physics classes is not easy. It's also very good indication that he/she will likely to success in upper courses.
  14. May 15, 2008 #13
    BTW, I found more and more people interested in Medical Physics recently. This wasn't the case when I was applying grad school. (which was last year -_-;)

    Anyway, with 3.0 you need to have exceptional talent to gain admission into ph.d program. I think your bio background is an excellent addition after you finish physics major.

    There are schools that will tell you what were the average gpa of accepted applicants last year. I suggest you do more research on your own to figure out what are your chances against those schools that you want to get into by calling them.

    At the end, I also suggest looking into master's program.
  15. May 15, 2008 #14
    This is Engineering Physics, which if I'm not mistaken is dumbed down to mostly applications. I also disagree that intro physics shows potential. And certainly dumbed down physics would show less of it.

    I'm not saying for him to not attempt to do physics grad school. At his current state, he is not ready. You're not gonna tell me anyone with just intro physics is. And I'm also warning him not to throw away his major because he did well in an intro course. If he enjoyed it a lot, sure give some upper levels a shot. Only then will he know if he wants to continue.

    A minor is two years no? If I'm not mistaken, he's only taken a year or so of physics.
    Last edited: May 15, 2008
  16. May 15, 2008 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's not always the case. When I was in college, the engineering students took the same physics course as the physics majors.

    I haven't chimed in about other options yet because I simply don't have any clue from what's been posted so far what the OP is actually interested in about biology or physics to have any suggestions or pointers.
  17. May 16, 2008 #16
    Engineering Physics is calculus based physics and it is not 'dumbed down' in my opinion. Of course, I have no idea what you mean by 'dumbed down'. In my case, I attended junior college that offered physics courses through two routes. One calculus based and the other with no calculus. Including myself, and some of my buddies back then did well in getting high mark on upper level physics classes after we transfered to university. Of course, it's only my experience. Perhaps, the instructor that I had was exceptional, or I'm jut smarter or I tried harder after I transfer. The point is, you can't know for sure.
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  18. May 16, 2008 #17
    By dumbed down I mean easier, deprived of rigor. It may not be an issue in first year, as even pure physics doesn't go that deep. Either way, no matter what intro physics, its just intro physics.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook