Can I get a Ph.D. in physics if my bachelor's degree isn't in physics

  • #101
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,977
4,680
I actually meant to get a top score , I've actually downloaded a version of the physics and math test . The questions are not that hard . It's the type of problems that you find in undergraduate textbooks .I'm actually reading graduate level textbooks now

Then I suggest you actually sit for the physics GRE and tell me what score you get.

Zz.
 
  • Like
Likes Dr. Courtney
  • #102
21
0
And what about a jump from a PhD in mathematical modeling of turbulent flows to a postdoc in astrophysics? Do you think something like this is possible? or the only option is to do a second PhD?
 
  • #103
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,977
4,680
And what about a jump from a PhD in mathematical modeling of turbulent flows to a postdoc in astrophysics? Do you think something like this is possible? or the only option is to do a second PhD?

Please start a new thread. That is outside the scope of the topic for this thread.

Zz.
 
  • #104
18
0
If I got a good score in GRE, can I get into graduate school without even having a bachelor's?
 
  • #105
4
0
Hello there,

So, I found this thread a while ago (about a year) and actually followed through. I graduated with a B.S. in chemistry this past August, with minors in math and physics. I did this in 3 years and got a 3.7 GPA. I did 5 semesters of physics research (fluid instabilities at chemical reaction fronts and some nonlinear pattern formation stuff).

I got 600 on this year's October physics GRE (31th percentile). Not anything to be proud of, but I'm making all the good excuses, like... besides the overlap between the disciplines, I've really only had the calc-based sequence, a modern physics course (relativity and some quantum), and Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos (which obviously wasn't a top 5 GRE topic). I think I gave this the good college try.

That being said, I assume it's not good enough. What should I do to keep pursing this? I currently teach as an adjunct physics instructor at my old university. They don't have a physics degree, or else, I would've just gotten one, dammit. I know that's the easiest way of going about this. For those who would ask *snooty voice* "Why didn't you transfer?" Good for you that you could afford to leave state. As an adjunct, I have 3 credits free, so I thought I'd grab what else they offer in the mean time, but they can't do much beyond what services other departments. :(

I talked to an advisor about an engineering degree, and that would take me another 4 years and a lot of money because I'd be part time. BUT, I don't think I'm that far off from being a decent candidate. Is it possibly worthwhile to spring the few hundred dollars (not trivial) that applications cost all together and see how I fare, or should I build myself up a little? I'm not aiming high, schoolwise -- UColoradoBoulder and University of New Mexico mainly.

Thanks!
 
  • #106
11
3
Just wanted to let you all know (since you've all been a big help to me) that I'm one of the people who posted here earlier looking for advice (I'm on a different account as the other one is personally identifiable). Well, today I just got my first acceptance letter to a Ph.D program. Thought I'd just give a success story since there aren't really any here and it's probably pretty uncommon for it to be the case.

But anyway, what I did was take a year and a half of classes to fulfill the knowledge gap, take the GREs, PGREs, do research, etc. All of the stuff everyone here, especially ZapperZ, insisted was necessary. And it definitely was.

For those who are considering this path, it can be done for sure. Wasn't easy at all but as I see it, there's no other path to this. Thanks to everyone for the advice!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes Timo, Cosmicnaut and Huqinpku
  • #107
Just wanted to let you all know (since you've all been a big help to me) that I'm one of the people who posted here earlier looking for advice (I'm on a different account as the other one is personally identifiable). Well, today I just got my first acceptance letter to a Ph.D program. Thought I'd just give a success story since there aren't really any here and it's probably pretty uncommon for it to be the case.

But anyway, what I did was take a year and a half of classes to fulfill the knowledge gap, take the GREs, PGREs, do research, etc. All of the stuff everyone here, especially ZapperZ, insisted was necessary. And it definitely was.

For those who are considering this path, it can be done for sure. Wasn't easy at all but as I see it, there's no other path to this. Thanks to everyone for the advice!

Hey, I came upon this thread because I am in the same boat as you and wanted to say thanks for the success update!

I have a handful questions: Did you go back for another BS? or did you do a MSc program after doing the required steps? What was your bachelors degree in? Did the classes you did for a year and half fulfill the requirement for just the BSc or MSc? Did you go straight into a MSc/Phd program?

I graduated with a bachelors in business and I am currently enrolled to take physics and math classes at a community college to fulfill just undergraduate pre-reqs. I was not able to direct message you, but please feel free to direct message me because this may be off topic.

Cheers
 
  • #108
11
3
Eh, I think it's relevant to the topic. Maybe just as one option of action, anyway.

My undergrad was in business, like yours. I went back to take classes as a non-degree student; no MSc, no BS, just classes. The undergraduate director at the school I did it at suggested that a second degree was of no real benefit if I could just prove that the coursework was done and I was well prepared.

Since I did this in a year and a half, I could not take all the requirements for a typical undergrad degree. But I took the core classes (E&M, Mechanics, QM, Thermal) and around 3-4 elective courses in special topics to get a better feeling for what I wanted to specialize in. For example, I took the following - nuclear/particles, cosmology, astrophysics, solid state, and biophysics courses (1 in each, so I guess 5 elective courses). The main thing I am still missing is an upper level lab course.

As far as I can tell, your biggest obstacle is getting a decent amount of research under your belt. It's incredibly unlikely that you'll find your way into a Harvard / Princeton type school without having research experience (not that this is necessarily what you're looking for). You may want to try to find research over at whatever big university is local because you absolutely are going to need it, and it'll give you a strong letter of recommendation. I got myself involved in a somewhat unique research project for an undergrad which I do think helped me a lot.

Aside from that, take the classes and do decently on the Physics GRE and you should end up in a similar position. The PGRE is sort of like a proving grounds (a lot of admissions committees apparently correlate PGRE scores with success on qualifying exams - or so I've been told by professors). It'll be incredibly helpful for someone in your position to ace them but it's only really important that you get a decent score. Assuming you're American; international students are kind of obligated to do much better.

Much of this is information I've found to be true but has also been told to me by various professors at my school. But admissions committees are somewhat mysterious so you never really know. Also, one last thing is, when you apply, make sure your personal statement / statement of purpose is very good. A lot of applicants write generic, bland statements because they feel that they aren't important - and they might not be for them. Since you have a situation to explain and, I assume, a story to go with it, it's very important that your statement be good.

Anyway, I went a little off-topic at the end there. So let me know if you've got more questions.
 
  • #109
Thank you very much! It is extremely helpful and invaluable. I have also talked to people who said going back for another degree would be a waste of time and money but others said it would be necessary for me to go back for a B.S to get a MSc/Phd.

Just to clarify, you skipped going back for another Bs and a MSc and went straight to a Phd by taking the core classes, doing great research and having a strong PGRE?

Did you do the classes at a 4-year university or a Community College? Were you working when going back (I may have to for rent purposes)? Or was it full time? I saw that you listed the core classes you took, was that for the PhD program you applied for or is it just physics in general?

I figured I would do the research if I went back for a BS or MSc but it seems like you didn't do that (which seems a much better route for me) How did you get in touch with universities to do research? I am fortunate enough that I live in heavily university populated area.

Sorry if I asked redundant or personal questions, I just want to make sure I have everything covered and understood.

Thanks again! This is really clearing up a lot of confusion i've been getting the last few days.
 
  • #110
11
3
Just to clarify, you skipped going back for another Bs and a MSc and went straight to a Phd by taking the core classes, doing great research and having a strong PGRE?


Well, I didn't really do "great research" or have a very strong PGRE to be honest. My research project is just unique and has given me the opportunity to work with a great professor who didn't pawn me off to a post-doc or grad student. So I had a lot of room to impress, whereas doing something like collecting data would probably not have been as good and would have resulted in a more generic letter I think. And I haven't yet gone to the Ph.D. I've been accepted but won't be actually going until the fall (maybe the summer, depending on the program).

Did you do the classes at a 4-year university or a Community College? Were you working when going back (I may have to for rent purposes)? Or was it full time? I saw that you listed the core classes you took, was that for the PhD program you applied for or is it just physics in general?

I did it at a 4-year university. Community colleges I don't think typically offer the upper level courses but I may be wrong. I was doing it full time (now I'm only part time) but I also got a job as a lab instructor (basically a TA) which paid decently. Teaching 3 classes would have been enough to pay to go full time.

The core classes are classes every physics student needs to be familiar with. Many schools won't even consider you if you can't show that you've taken them; some schools specifically list the preparation they prefer to see. When you go into the phd program, you're expected to know the core stuff - any missing classes can be filled in if need be but you are really going to be disadvantaged if you do not have the basics.

I figured I would do the research if I went back for a BS or MSc but it seems like you didn't do that (which seems a much better route for me) How did you get in touch with universities to do research? I am fortunate enough that I live in heavily university populated area.

As I said, I did my classes at a 4-year school. A big state school with a large physics department. So to find research I just read up on what the professors did, found one I was interested in working with, and popped into his office to talk about it. Finding research really shouldn't be too hard - just ask a bunch of professors.

The one thing I would say is this - don't rush it like I did. What I did was really not ideal and I would recommend anyone following in my footsteps to try to do it in 2 years. I did all of my core classes in one and it was rough. It wouldn't be as rough if I were doing it now but it was very difficult having only had the intro-level course under my belt. The intro-level courses just don't provide the preparation necessary to jump into four/five simultaneous upper level physics courses. But that's just my opinion.

Long story short - you are going to absolutely need to take most, if not all of these: E&M 1,2; Classical Mechanics 1,2; Quantum mechanics; Thermodynamics. I'd consider this to be your minimum.

Again though, take all of what I say kind of with a grain of salt (at least until someone else confirms). I'm not on an admissions committee - I am just relaying what I've learned and what my professors have told me.
 
  • #111
Again though, take all of what I say kind of with a grain of salt (at least until someone else confirms). I'm not on an admissions committee - I am just relaying what I've learned and what my professors have told me.

I completely understand and thank you again for the amazing input! One last question, did any of your advisors/professors say that the various graduate programs may find your business bachelors strange? Or did it not really matter because you fulfilled what they were looking for?

Cheers
 
  • #112
11
3
I completely understand and thank you again for the amazing input! One last question, did any of your advisors/professors say that the various graduate programs may find your business bachelors strange? Or did it not really matter because you fulfilled what they were looking for?

Cheers

None of my professors ever did. I always thought it would make me stand out a bit more in the graduate committees but honestly, I've never once received any comment about it for good or bad. Then again though, this is what the personal statement is ideal for explaining (and what I used it for).
 
  • #113
None of my professors ever did. I always thought it would make me stand out a bit more in the graduate committees but honestly, I've never once received any comment about it for good or bad. Then again though, this is what the personal statement is ideal for explaining (and what I used it for).


Thank you so much for everything! Good luck with everything
 
  • #114
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,977
4,680
I intend to update this post as I go along and find more links.

At the beginning of this VERY long thread, I mentioned two things you should do as a self-check on your ability to get through a US PhD program: the Physics GRE, and a typical qualifying exam, preferably from the schools you wish to apply to. I also note that for the qualifying exams, the self-check here involves not the actual solving of the questions given (which you can attempt if you wish), but actually just simply having an idea on how to solve such problems. In other words, you actually know the physics involved, and the steps you need to proceed to solve them.

In this post, I would like to make a list of various webpages from different schools that have put their past-year's physics qualifying exams online. This is to give you a chance to look at the questions being asked from a wide range of schools, and then to asses your own knowledge and abilities for yourself. Only you can asses if you are sufficiently prepared.

If you have links to add, you may do so by either posting them here (and I'll update this post), or you may msg me with the link and I'll post it here. If you notice a broken link, please let me know.

So here goes:

1. Columbia Univerisity (ignore the typo in "Qalifying")
2. UCSD (this is not from the university's website, but it purportedly has solutions to some of the exams. Accuracy and correctness are not guaranteed.).
3. University of Oregon
4. University of Illinois at Chicago
5. Yale University
6. UIUC
7. Purdue University
8. http://umdphysics.umd.edu/academics/graduate/qualifier.html [Broken]
9. Rutgers University
10. Princeton University
11. SUNY-Buffalo
12. Illinois Institute of Technology
13. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
14. MIT
15. SUNY-Stony Brook
16. University of Wisconsin-Madison
17. University of Toledo
18. Michigan State University
19. University of Nevada-Reno
20. Penn State


Zz.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #115
I intend to update this post as I go along and find more links.

At the beginning of this VERY long thread, I mentioned two things you should do as a self-check on your ability to get through a US PhD program: the Physics GRE, and a typical qualifying exam, preferably from the schools you wish to apply to. I also note that for the qualifying exams, the self-check here involves not the actual solving of the questions given (which you can attempt if you wish), but actually just simply having an idea on how to solve such problems. In other words, you actually know the physics involved, and the steps you need to proceed to solve them.

In this post, I would like to make a list of various webpages from different schools that have put their past-year's physics qualifying exams online. This is to give you a chance to look at the questions being asked from a wide range of schools, and then to asses your own knowledge and abilities for yourself. Only you can asses if you are sufficiently prepared.

If you have links to add, you may do so by either posting them here (and I'll update this post), or you may msg me with the link and I'll post it here. If you notice a broken link, please let me know.

So here goes:

1. Columbia Univerisity (ignore the typo in "Qalifying")
2. UCSC (this is not from the university's website, but it purportedly has solutions to some of the exams. Accuracy and correctness are not guaranteed.).
3. University of Oregon
4. University of Illinois at Chicago
5. Yale University
6. UIUC
7. Purdue University
8. http://umdphysics.umd.edu/academics/graduate/qualifier.html [Broken]
9. Rutgers University
10. Princeton University
11. SUNY-Buffalo
12. Illinois Institute of Technology


Zz.
Hey! I'm still pretty new to Physics Forums, but I love this place. I'm a Chemistry major and just finished up a year of learning quantum and thermodynamic theory, and I have completely fallen in love with the mathematically beautiful physics. I was getting kind of blue that I may not be able to apply to a graduate program after I finish this last year at my program, but this is giving me hope to attempt to apply to some, including some on this list, so I really appreciate it.

Would you say the ability to do well in one of these exams as well as good grades in my undergrad (albeit a chemistry program) as well as research experience may warrant me the ability to get into a physics program?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #116
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,955
617
Hey! I'm still pretty new to Physics Forums, but I love this place. I'm a Chemistry major and just finished up a year of learning quantum and thermodynamic theory, and I have completely fallen in love with the mathematically beautiful physics. I was getting kind of blue that I may not be able to apply to a graduate program after I finish this last year at my program, but this is giving me hope to attempt to apply to some, including some on this list, so I really appreciate it.

Would you say the ability to do well in one of these exams as well as good grades in my undergrad (albeit a chemistry program) as well as research experience may warrant me the ability to get into a physics program?

Have you attempted the practice GRE in physics? Zapper references it in the first post in this thread.
 
  • #117
Hi,

I've been browsing the forums for a while now and really appreciate the quality information on here. I don't have a question so much as I wanted to tell my story in the vein of this thread, just to pile some more data on the stack for other browsers to consider. So here's the short version of my background :

I graduated from UC Santa Cruz back in 2008 with a B.S. in Information Systems Management, which included calculus/linear algebra (although I haven't done much actual math since then), and some CE/CS. I've made a successful career as a consultant in software but I've always loved physics. I've had a few moments where I seriously considered switching careers, but then something else always came up (i.e. moved abroad, got a new job, got a fat raise, etc.). I'm 29 now and have felt a strong pull to do something more substantial, so I started exploring and found physics again. I decided that this time I'd make a deal with myself, I bought a book that essentially covers the first 1.5 years of introductory physics and told myself if I could get through the whole book, including all the problem sets, and still be genuinely fired up/interested in physics then I'd take it seriously.

I've completed that book and am moving on to the next phase, seeing if I can teach myself enough to do well on the Physics GRE. My plan in general is to break it all down into bite sized chunks so that any point if I decide I've had enough that I can just walk away without having really lost anything and having enjoyed myself along the way. I'm finding that I've never been so motivated to learn something, I actually enjoy spending my evenings and weekends just studying/learning physics (my friends think I'm a little nuts).

Anyway, how this is at all related to this thread... My goal is to pursue a PhD in physics because I feel that the depth of the topics involved in physics are so profound that I wouldn't be satisfied to simply continue learning in my free time, I want to learn enough to actually contribute in a meaningful way as well. My strategy keeps shifting as I learn more about what opportunities are available but right now my rough plan is to take the PGRE in Oct as sort of a baseline result (I expect to do horribly), then try to fill in as many gaps as possible by April when I will take it again. If I don't do as well as I want then I will again try to fill in the gaps, then take it again in Nov 2016. At which point I will apply to a PhD program for fall of 2017. That would give me another year to try to catch up some more. It gets a little fuzzy after that, I know I want to get involved somehow, possibly find some volunteer opportunities, network with people in related fields. I'm not in a huge rush, I figure if I am still pumped about physics after all that, then I will have no doubt in my mind that going on to do a PhD is the right move. Besides... I'm getting paid a truckload of money in the meantime in the IT world.

Hopefully my thought process makes sense and maybe gives some other kindred spirits an idea or two about what they might do. Thanks for all the info on the forums, it's been great so far!
 
  • #118
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
27,412
11,539
Your plan is to cover the same material as a 4-year degree in physics in 15 months. While working full-time. Does this seem realistic to you?
 
  • #119
Well I don't think that's a particularly fair assessment of what I said... but at any rate, I don't look at it in that way. Naturally I may have some invalid assumptions, which may change my attitude and plan, however it doesn't seem like such an insurmountable feat to me for a few reasons :

- The 15 month time frame is just to apply to the schools, not when I'd be attending. I'd have another year in between those two events. Namely, to be successful in that schedule, I need to learn enough to do well on the PGRE, which it's my understanding doesn't really cover much of the last 1.5-2 years worth of undergraduate material.
- The whole idea that I'm doing 4 years worth of physics is also a little misleading since a 4 year degree in physics is not 4 years of physics, it includes a bunch of other stuff that you have to do to get a "well rounded education" (i.e. a 4 year degree). If it's anything like my own 4 year B.S. then a solid half of it was random general education that had nothing to do with my actual engineering degree.
- I'm not starting from scratch, I have 8 years of industry experience in software so I have programming experience, and I did do up through single variable calculus/linear algebra back in college so it's mostly refresher for that stuff.
- Being 29 instead of 19 makes a huge difference, I have significantly more discipline as well as more perspective by which to frame the things I'm learning
- I have the disposable income to spend on high quality learning materials, even paying for private tutoring if it comes to that. Similarly, if I find that 6 months from now my progress is not as fast as I want but I'm just absolutely chomping at the bit to do more in a shorter time frame, I can always find new employment arrangements such as part time.

Most of all though, as I said, I'm not in a rush. If it turns out that my assumptions about how much I can realistically accomplish in a given amount of time are bogus then of course I can evaluate if I want to continue or not. If my interest continues on the current trajectory (which of course there is no way of knowing that it will), then what difference does it make if I spend another year or two beyond this learning the fundamentals? I mean if the thought of taking 3 years instead of 2 years to prepare for a PhD program is really enough to scare me off, then I have to be honest with myself and say that this probably isn't for me.

Truth be told, I was hesitant to respond to this comment as I wasn't sure of the tone, my first reaction was that it was an attempt to deflate my excitement by trying to make me feel stupid or something. But I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt and interpret it as you trying to inject some reality into what I imagine is a sea of starry eyed idealists who haven't yet experienced the challenge of prolonged, hard work.
 
  • #120
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
27,412
11,539
You need more than 1.5 years of physics to do well on the PGRE .OK, maybe MIT physics, but not for the majority/ It's normally taken after 3.5 years, for a good reason.

Even spending 1/2 of a BS on gen ed, we're still talking about 2500 hours of work. Over 15 months works out to 40-45 hours a week. If you think you can do this in 20, that means you have to be twice as efficient as a college student - a student who may be 19, but also has access to faculty, TAs, graded homework, etc. If you think 15 is more reasonable, then you have to be three times as efficient. If you think this is reasonable, more power to you. To me, it looks like a lot to chew on - and I have a PhD in physics..
 
  • #121
That's fair, I wasn't trying to imply that I'm somehow a genius and can defy reality, my estimate was based on my perception of how much there is to learn and how quickly I thought I could effectively learn it in. It was not the result of some arbitrary time frame which I then decided I wanted to cram all of the necessary learning. If it turns out that 6 more months of learning at the rate I've been learning over the last 3 months show that my pace is slower than I thought it was, then spending more time on it doesn't bother me one bit. I'm enjoying myself immensely on even the fundamentals and it doesn't make much sense to me to go into the higher level material before I have nothing substantial left to gain from the undergraduate level material.

There is however a part of me that wants to rise to the challenge though and see just how far I can get in the somewhat aggressive schedule I've set for myself. I've got to stave off the boredom of my job somehow!
 
  • #122
Choppy
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,708
1,909
Oh dear.

MindGrapes, you appear to be presenting your situation as advice for others who may be interested in pursuing physics to the PhD level, but it doesn't really seem to be coming from a successful base of experience in the field, and it's not really an advisable approach. It seems to come across as (to me anyway): do some independent self-study, take the physics GRE over and over until you get a good grade, and you'll get into graduate school.

The problem is that the GRE is not the exclusive gatekeeper for graduate school admissions. It's only one component of the admissions process, the others being:
  • an undergraduate degree in physics (or something closely related)
  • a competitive GPA within that degree
  • letters of reference from two or three professors in positions to evaluate your potential to succeed in graduate school, and
  • activities of relevant academic merit such as publications, conference presentations, scholarships and awards
  • the strength of your own application that comes through your statement of purpose, project outlines, scholarship applications etc.
The whole idea that I'm doing 4 years worth of physics is also a little misleading since a 4 year degree in physics is not 4 years of physics, it includes a bunch of other stuff that you have to do to get a "well rounded education" (i.e. a 4 year degree). If it's anything like my own 4 year B.S. then a solid half of it was random general education that had nothing to do with my actual engineering degree.

I'm not sure a typical honours physics degree is like an information systems management degree. Physics undergraduate programs tend to be fairly intensive with only about 20% of the coursework (roughly one course per term) allowed for electives. On top of that, the people on admissions committees are keenly aware of students who have completed only the minimum requirements.

The biggest issue you're going to face is that you'll need some kind of evidence that you've established a foundation in physics that will allow you to succeed in graduate school and beyond that, that you're also a better bet than so many of the other people applying (most of whom will have degrees in physics). Admissions committees don't specifically care about the name on your degree. But they care about whether you'll get better than a C+ when you have to take Jackson's electrodynamics. They care about whether you'll pass a comprehensive exam, candidacy exam and a thesis defence. They care about whether you'll be able to drive a research project forward.

The best way to convince them of this is by enrolling in the courses that you need. Your other points are likely to help you there. You'll likely get credit for courses you've taken. If you have the added discipline that comes with some real-world experience, that's great. And if you can hire tutors to help you when you need, even better.
 
  • #123
I take your point, and I'm beginning to think perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut as I wasn't really intending to give advice to anyone so much as possibly give some insight into my own thought process for others to digest, but given the forum it's silly to assume people would interpret it that way.

I've seen others on this site give similar direction as you are giving in regards to what might be necessary (i.e. undergrad degree in physics) and one thing I find very interesting is that it seems to conflict with the advice given by the people working at the advising offices that I called. Maybe it's the difference between attending a top tier school and one more accessible. For example, I called the graduate physics department at UCSC and basically laid out my background and what I was intending to do and the lady gave me the very frank answer of "Do well on the PGRE and you're good. If you get above 50% then you're good to go, if you get below 50% then possibly reconsider your future in physics" When I said that I was concerned that I don't have any research experience or other things gained in the undergraduate program she said it didn't matter at all and that they accept people from all kinds of different backgrounds, she even cited an example of someone in her astro program as having a music degree.

Of course maybe these people are just giving bad advice too and I'm fooling myself by thinking that I can self-study my way into grad school.
 
  • #124
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
27,412
11,539
I think you must have misunderstood her. A GRE above 50% won't get you into UCSC by itself. They accept 25% of their applicants.

A good GRE is a necessary condition. It is not, however, a sufficient condition.
 
  • #125
22,129
3,297
- The whole idea that I'm doing 4 years worth of physics is also a little misleading since a 4 year degree in physics is not 4 years of physics, it includes a bunch of other stuff that you have to do to get a "well rounded education" (i.e. a 4 year degree). If it's anything like my own 4 year B.S. then a solid half of it was random general education that had nothing to do with my actual engineering degree.

Sure. But to give you an idea, in my country we don't have "General Education Requirements". Every course you take is relevant to the degree. And the education lasts for 3 years. So you are still trying to do 3 years worth of education in 15 months.
Some other issues with your plan:
1) Who will take care you don't get any misunderstandings? And I don't just mean "not understanding something" which can be solved. But I mean actually thinking you understand something while you actually don't. This is the number 1 danger of self-study, and I have seen a lot of people fall in this trap. So when you point this out to them, they become defensive and don't accept what you say. And if they do accept what you say, they become discouraged because it means that everything they learned could be wrong and they have no way of knowing.
2) What about labs and experiments? They form a huge part of physics and you can't just not do it. You will need experience with these things.
3) What if things become too difficult. It is very hard to persevere while self-studying. In university, you have the help of your peers and TAs and professors. When self-studying (and certainly with a very tight schedule like you're proposing), you WILL get discouraged. Many quit at that moment.

These are serious issues to think about. I don't want to discourage you. But if you're serious about this, then you will need to solve these issues before continuing.
 

Related Threads on Can I get a Ph.D. in physics if my bachelor's degree isn't in physics

Replies
1
Views
3K
Replies
5
Views
13K
Replies
1
Views
9K
Replies
5
Views
3K
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
6
Views
130K
Replies
4
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
643
Replies
9
Views
7K
Top