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Changing to physics

  1. Jul 8, 2007 #1
    I'm from India.I've done my bachelors degree in life sciences.But I'm fed up with all the cramming I had to do and I certainly don't like to spend the rest of my life mugging...I was and still am interested in physics and yearn to change to it...The only way its possible in India is to go back and start from scrap doing a BSc in Physics.I want to know if there are any alternative to this...
    I heard that its possible to get into a Physics major in universities in the US irrespective of one's bachelor degree,with a good GRE/subject GRE score.
    Please give me your suggestions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2007 #2


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    Do you have any formal background in physics other than a general physics course for life science majors? If this is all you have, then I don't think you are going to be able to go straight to a physics graduate program. I am not a grad student myself, but I am a physics undergrad. I know that there is much more to undergrad physics than what is done in a non-calculus based general physics course.

    Plus, if you plan on going to grad school in the US for physics, you are going to have to deal with the Physics GRE and qualifiers. I VERY strongly doubt that you'll be able to pass these tests without the knowledge of a BS in physics. People who have B.S.'s in physics have trouble with these tests! I think you should consider going back for another bachelors if you want to go to grad school for physics.
  4. Jul 9, 2007 #3
    No I dont have a formal physics background...but I heard from my friends about people who have done this before....the details are hazy though...are there any other preparatory courses that can be taken to be eligible to get into grad?
  5. Jul 9, 2007 #4


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    I may only be an undergraduate myself, but if this is the case, I think you are not going to be able to pass the Physics GRE or qualifiers. You are not going to be able to handle graduate physics classes without upper level undergrad physics. That's why the undergraduate courses are there in the first place. You can't just jump into graduate level or even upper level undergraduate physics material without the adequate preparation. If you do want to go into a physics graduate program, you are going to need to know the undergrad material inside out. There's no way around it, sorry. I don't mean to be rude or insulting, but if you have no training in the field, then your chances of even getting into a graduate program, let alone surviving in one, is VERY slim. I don't wish to discourage you from studying physics. I just think that, if it's possible, you should go back for another B.S. in Physics. It will be the best way to go about it.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2007
  6. Jul 9, 2007 #5
    G01, I wouldn't say he is entirely hopeless. Some graduate students in physics at my university where chemistry or math majors (I believe we even have that did mostly education) for their undergrad. A few didn't have the upper division course work expected of physics majors; however, they had research under their belts or were able to develop a basic skill set necessary to pass the GRE and pass quals. Normally, Quals take place one to two times a year at my university and normally you get close to a year to prepare for them.

    Furthermore, from the universities I have looked at, a large portion have 400/500 undergrad/graduate level split classes which are designed to be upper division electives for advanced undergrads and begining review for graduate students.

    With that said, it is possible to get into and start at graduate level physics...it is just very very unlikely.
  7. Jul 9, 2007 #6


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    I agree with G01 to some extent. The OP states that he has a degree in life sciences-- now I'm not really too sure what this covers, but unless it's got any physics or maths in then I doubt he'll be able to get into grad school, even if he manages to pass the GRE to a suitable level.

    physicist: you say that some grad physics students have degrees in maths or chemistry. Now, in these degrees one has experience in physics; whether it be through the applied modules in a maths course, or through other modules in a chemistry course. These students probably built on their knowledge of physics using the graduate courses and then took the qualifiers. However, it is impossible for someone who knows little to no physics to manage to learn grad level physics and pass qualifiers, so I doubt many schools would be willing to take such students on.

    That said, it may be worth emailing some schools to see whether they think you have the necesary requirements (attach your transcript and details of the physics related content of your course). However, it is not true that one can breeze into grad level physics with any old undergrad degree.
  8. Jul 10, 2007 #7
    I get your point...I will try to find out from universities if there is a way...or else ..back to the basics
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