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

Re: I have so-and-so degree, can I get into Physics?

Right...I think I get the message!
SO can you tell me how did you properly prepared for that, i mean like what books/ syllabus/ or any thing else??
thnx....
 
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I have a degree in Chemical Engineering. Any helpful advise for pursuing a PhD in Physics with a background in Chemical Engineering? thnaks
 

ZapperZ

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I have a degree in Chemical Engineering. Any helpful advise for pursuing a PhD in Physics with a background in Chemical Engineering? thnaks
Did you even read the thread?

Zz.
 
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Hello , ZapperZ.

I did not take a single course in anything related to mathematics or physics at college. But I have read Peskin & Schroeder's QFT , Weinberg QFT and some textbooks on general relativity , differential forms , Algebraic topology etc. I have a Bachelor degree in medicine ( a 6-7 Year degree ).

What If I intend to do Msc or a PhD degree in theoretical physics in Europe ? They usually do not require GRE scores. Can I apply to these programs without an official academic transcript ? Do they offer some kind of examinations or interviews for nontraditional students ?
 
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ZapperZ

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Hello , ZapperZ.

I did not take a single course in anything related to mathematics or physics at college. But I have read Peskin & Schroeder's QFT , Weinberg QFT and some textbooks on general relativity , differential forms , Algebraic topology etc. I have a Bachelor degree in medicine ( a 6-7 Year degree ).
First of all, what does it mean when you say "I have read..... "? You DO know that math and physics texts aren't like a novel. You can't just "read" things and hoping that you have understood the material. How do you know that you have mastered the material?

What If I intend to do Msc or a PhD degree in theoretical physics in Europe ? They usually do not require GRE scores. Can I apply to these programs without an official academic transcript ? Do they offer some kind of examinations or interviews for nontraditional students ?
My guess is without any kind of evidence that you have the necessary background, the answer is no. Europe has such a variety of requirements for different regions/countries. There is no way there is one answer that covers the entire region.

But more importantly, based on what you have described here, there is zero evidence that you have any degree of understanding of the various topics in undergraduate physics curriculum. Why would a program that has a limited number of spaces accept you over someone with a demonstrable record? Are you able to answer that question?

Even if you do not have to take a GRE, have you attempted even the practice exam as your first, self-evaluation? Aren't you even curious to see how well you would do in a GRE-Physics exam to see if you are even up to standard to go into a graduate physics program?

BTW, please note that this thread has a very NARROW scope, which is how one would make a zeroth-order, self-evaluation of one's level of understanding to enter a physics graduate program. In other words, this is something YOU do yourself! It is not meant as a thread to figure out if you can enter such-and-such a school or program.

Zz.
 
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What I mean by having read these is not that I have read them cover to cover like a novel. But I mean that I have worked out most of the derivations , understood the arguments and so forth even if I have not read the whole book. I didn't mean that I have read Hatcher Algebraic topology cover to cover and did all the exercises but I have good grasp of the concepts of homology , Homotopy and homological algebra to the level of being able to independently prove and discover the theorems that I need in something else even if I can't recall them immediately
 

ZapperZ

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What I mean by having read these is not that I have read them cover to cover like a novel. But I mean that I have worked out most of the derivations , understood the arguments and so forth even if I have not read the whole book. I didn't mean that I have read Hatcher Algebraic topology cover to cover and did all the exercises but I have good grasp of the concepts of homology , Homotopy and homological algebra to the level of being able to independently prove and discover the theorems that I need in something else even if I can't recall them immediately
I'm still not sure of this, but that in itself is the whole problem with this, i.e. we only have your word to go by. Would you let me perform surgery on you after I claim that I've "read" all the necessary books on it?

The issue here is for you to do your own self-evaluation. So why don't you either try to get a hold of sample Physics GRE tests, or try to find some online advanced undergraduate level QM, E&M, and Classical Mechanics exam questions and see if you are able to do them. Or check out this post in this thread and see if you are able to solve the typical qualifying exam questions:

https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/can-i-get-a-ph-d-in-physics-if-my-bachelors-degree-isnt-in-physics.64966/page-6#post-5024283

That is the ONLY definitive way to check for yourself. Otherwise, we will be in this continuous loop of you trying to convince us, and us (or me) not being convinced. THAT is what I've been trying to avoid when I proposed this self-test in this thread.

Zz.
 

jtbell

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Even after you've convinced yourself that you really do know enough physics to be a plausible candidate for admission to a graduate school, you still have to convince the school. I don't know what it's like in every country in the world, but in the USA at least, no graduate schools in the US (as far as I know) use admissions exams, whether written or oral (interview). The GRE is not an admissions exam; rather, it is one component of a "portfolio" of information about you that normally includes (a) your grades/marks in undergraduate physics courses, (b) some kind of research experience, (c) letters of recommendation from professors and research supervisors, (d) your GRE score.
 
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I'm still not sure of this, but that in itself is the whole problem with this, i.e. we only have your word to go by. Would you let me perform surgery on you after I claim that I've "read" all the necessary books on it?

The issue here is for you to do your own self-evaluation. So why don't you either try to get a hold of sample Physics GRE tests, or try to find some online advanced undergraduate level QM, E&M, and Classical Mechanics exam questions and see if you are able to do them. Or check out this post in this thread and see if you are able to solve the typical qualifying exam questions:

https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/can-i-get-a-ph-d-in-physics-if-my-bachelors-degree-isnt-in-physics.64966/page-6#post-5024283

That is the ONLY definitive way to check for yourself. Otherwise, we will be in this continuous loop of you trying to convince us, and us (or me) not being convinced. THAT is what I've been trying to avoid when I proposed this self-test in this thread.

Zz.
I understand the importance of the GRE Physics test. I plan to do it. I should have done it several months ago but I couldn't because I was doing the compulsatory military service. I have looked at the qualifying exams of some universities in statistical mechanics & I have solved a lot of EM problems from zangwill & griffiths. So , What if I got a very high score in GRE subject test ? What should I do next ? The biggest problem I have is that I live in the middle east. People here think that physics is not worthwhile to study and I think they fear that real physics education & real research adversely affects religious beliefs. I cannot find any serious physics program at any university or any professor doing research in string theory , quantum field theory etc. If I couldn't do a PhD program in theoretical physics , l would still try to learn as much as I can about the mathematical laws of nature.
 
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Vanadium 50

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Nonsense. There are plenty of good universities in the middle east, like Tel Aviv, Technion and Weizmann.
 
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Nonsense. There are plenty of good universities in the middle east, like Tel Aviv, Technion and Weizmann.
I'm not from Israel. If I were , I think I would not have asked this in the first place because I would have gone straight to some good university there , talked with professors and studied physics.
 
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ZapperZ

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I have updated and added more links to various qualifying exams given at various universities in the US. The link to this post has also been added to the first post of this very long thread.

Again, in case you have forgotten the "theme" of this thread, the GRE and the qualifying exams are your first, concrete self-test on your ability to not only get into a Physics PhD program, but also to survive. This is something you can do on your own.

Zz.
 
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How many of these qualifying exams should I be able to do before even considering applying? And what is the cut off for the pass? I was working on Columbia mechanics qualifying exams and can do some of the problems( can't normal modes yet because haven't studied that yet, but it looks like straightforward eigenvectors/matrix solutions to diff eq's after the lagragian is set up)

Also, if I eventually manage to self test and ace say just the Mechanics and E&M portions, would that be enough of an indicator to myself that I can handle a Phd in physics? Or should I try to master all of them?

But in the end, how would admission committees even know my level? It's not like I can send them my own solutions to quals and say, hey I can do this.
 

ZapperZ

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How many of these qualifying exams should I be able to do before even considering applying? And what is the cut off for the pass? I was working on Columbia mechanics qualifying exams and can do some of the problems( can't normal modes yet because haven't studied that yet, but it looks like straightforward eigenvectors/matrix solutions to diff eq's after the lagragian is set up)

Also, if I eventually manage to self test and ace say just the Mechanics and E&M portions, would that be enough of an indicator to myself that I can handle a Phd in physics? Or should I try to master all of them?

But in the end, how would admission committees even know my level? It's not like I can send them my own solutions to quals and say, hey I can do this.
Then take the Physics GRE and use the test score (assuming you are as good as you claim) to justify your admission application.

Zz.
 
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Then take the Physics GRE and use the test score (assuming you are as good as you claim) to justify your admission application.

Zz.

Are you sure that would work? I've only officially taken intro calc based mechanics and e&m about 10 years ago. That's all the physics I have under my belt.


The only other redeeming quality that I have more than enough math prereqs. And they are somewhat related( complex analysis, mathematical modeling, nonlinear dynamics(phase spaces etc), optimization, ODE, advanced linear models etc.
 

ZapperZ

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Are you sure that would work? I've only officially taken intro calc based mechanics and e&m about 10 years ago. That's all the physics I have under my belt.
You seem to have the wrong idea about the intention of this thread.

There is NO GUARANTEE implied anywhere in this thread of (i) getting admitted and (ii) getting through a PhD Physics program.

Unless you are willing to enroll in more classes, then take your GRE, submit your applications, and sit back and wait. What else do you think you can do?

Zz.
 
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You seem to have the wrong idea about the intention of this thread.

There is NO GUARANTEE implied anywhere in this thread of (i) getting admitted and (ii) getting through a PhD Physics program.

Unless you are willing to enroll in more classes, then take your GRE, submit your applications, and sit back and wait. What else do you think you can do?

Zz.

Well, being in my situation, I guess there isn't much I can do since I'm not a student so I can't really just take upper division physics courses. But I could claim that I have done physics in my applied classes. For example, I have modeled different orbital/hyperbolic trajectories and energies starting from various escape velocities, something a physics phd told me is not a trivial problem. And I have learned how to estimate likelihood parameters using hamiltonian monte carlo. Also an application borrowed from physics. In one of my diff eqs classes, I have modeled phase spaces of a physical pendulum( undamped and damped etc). Unfortunately, none of those courses have the title of physics. But I suppose I could just explain in the app.


I guess I should just self study for the gre then. Is that what you would do if you were in my situation?
 
Hi,

I'm taking pre reqs to get into a Phd in Computer Science program. I plan on entering in fall of 2019.

That said, I have an interest in Quantum Information/Computing. Is it possible for me to self study for a sufficient background in Physics come fall 2019? i.e about 2 years? The equivalent of doing well on the Physics GRE.

I do not have any Physics background, but have a decently strong applied math background.
 

ZapperZ

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Hi,

I'm taking pre reqs to get into a Phd in Computer Science program. I plan on entering in fall of 2019.

That said, I have an interest in Quantum Information/Computing. Is it possible for me to self study for a sufficient background in Physics come fall 2019? i.e about 2 years? The equivalent of doing well on the Physics GRE.

I do not have any Physics background, but have a decently strong applied math background.
I pointed this thread to you with the hope that (i) you actually read the advice that I gave in the very first post and (ii) that you are able to do your own self-evaluation.

This is NOT the thread to answer your particular question. You are missing the whole point of this thread and my reason for pointing this out to you!

Zz.
 

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