Condensed Matter PhD Program Choice - Advice Needed

In summary, the two institutes offer great opportunities, but the atmosphere at Oxford might not be ideal.
  • #1

I don't want to be too specific here, but specific enough for relevant advice.

I'm finishing a Masters in Physics and am lucky to have been made offers by 2 excellent institutes: a Max Planck Graduate Centre (MP), and at Oxford UK. Both are in experimental condensed matter; Weyl semi-metals at MP, superconductors at Oxford.

MP would be exciting as I have never lived in Germany - I worry that I would regret not taking the opportunity to go, and I like topology so Weyl semi-metals would be interesting, and they seem to be a growing field. On the other hand, I am concerned that there might be more chemistry than I would like, as it is a chemistry/physics institute. The project at Oxford also is really interesting - superconductivity has always interested me, but I figure I shouldn't limit myself to considering only SC when there are so many interesting topics in condensed matter. And also, from what I have heard even at postgrad the atmosphere in Oxford might not be great.

I am really struggling to decide between the two, as both are amazing opportunities and I would enjoy the Physics in both. Any advice would be much appreciated! :)
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  • #2
Have you talked to people from each institute yet?

In an ideal world, I'd recommend visiting each one, but given the current state of the world, I realize that's not really feasible. You might contact each department to see if they at least have some kind of virtual tour for prospective students. See if it's possible to schedule a virtual meeting with potential supervisors and maybe some current graduate students to get a feel for each place.
  • #3
It’s less about the place and more about your Ph.D. advisor/group. Also, given that you already have a masters, you should consider the program requirement differences between the two.

Also ask yourself why you consider one of the topics limiting and the other not. A successful degree is usually a deep dive. Younger scientists tend to get hung up over academic boundaries. In reality, you want an interesting physics problem and physics problems do not see these boundaries

At the end of the day, the question is about you. What works for someone else might not work for you.

Also be aware that there might not be a correct path, only different paths.
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  • #4
I've recommended the students I mentor to have virtual meetings with as many potential research advisers as possible and attend the virtual lab tours and stuff of that sort. Once all the homework is done and the choice is to be made, my advice is to follow your heart. Where is the spark? I mean the biggest spark.
  • #5
OP: What country are you from? Do you have any plans as to which country you would settle in after you have completed your academic training? Or is that totally open?

1. What is a condensed matter PhD program?

A condensed matter PhD program is a graduate program that focuses on the study of the physical properties of materials in their condensed state, such as liquids, solids, and glasses. It is a branch of physics that combines principles from chemistry, materials science, and engineering to understand and manipulate the behavior of condensed matter.

2. What are the prerequisites for a condensed matter PhD program?

The specific prerequisites for a condensed matter PhD program may vary depending on the university or program, but generally, a strong background in physics, mathematics, and chemistry is required. Some programs may also require previous research experience or coursework in specific areas of condensed matter physics.

3. What are some important factors to consider when choosing a condensed matter PhD program?

Some important factors to consider when choosing a condensed matter PhD program include the research interests and expertise of the faculty, the availability of funding and resources, the location and surrounding research institutions, and the overall reputation and rankings of the program.

4. How long does it take to complete a condensed matter PhD program?

The length of a condensed matter PhD program can vary, but it typically takes around 4-5 years to complete. This may also depend on factors such as the student's research progress, thesis writing, and any additional requirements or responsibilities.

5. What career opportunities are available for graduates of a condensed matter PhD program?

Graduates of a condensed matter PhD program can pursue a variety of career paths, including academic research and teaching positions, industry positions in fields such as materials science and nanotechnology, and government or national laboratory positions. They may also choose to continue their research through postdoctoral positions or advance to managerial or leadership roles in their field.

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