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Differences in majors in regards to graduate application.

  1. Dec 29, 2008 #1
    Hello, my name is Mark Murphy. I've kept tabs on this forum for a while, and was hoping I might garner some advice regarding my curriculum.

    I am currently a third year at my university, majoring in Engineering Physics. Our Engineering Physics program differs from our Physics graduate school track program by one required course and a small number of free elective hours. I am currently planning on completing all of the courses and beyond what is required of the Physics graduate school track program. I'm concerned however with how this is viewed by graduate schools. I chose to major in Engineering Physics because it allowed me to take a significant number of Computer Science courses, which I am particularly good at, while removing the foreign language requirement from the general education requirements. This is not a reduction in required hours, but rather an increase. I personally consider the program to be more rigorous, as I am completing over fifty hours of engineering coursework in place of fifteen hours of foreign language coursework. My concern is that graduate schools will not view my major this way, but rather as a lower level physics student and simply brush my application aside.

    Here is a little background on my academic performance; I have never received lower than a B in any of my Physics coursework, generally receiving B+ or A-. My Math coursework is similar, receiving either high B range or perfect scores. And my Computer Science coursework has been all perfect scores. I did have one poor quarter during my freshman year, 20 credit hours during winter quarter, where I received two C-'s, a B and an A-. However, all other quarters have been at or above a 3.5 with increasing hours and no general education courses boosting them.

    I have done two summers of research at another university, and I plan on conducting undergraduate research during this winter quarter and the following quarters for the remainder of my undergraduate academic career. I have already been approached regarding a position in a lab at my university, so I am confident I will have a position.

    In conclusion, I would like to ask if my concern is justified? Would it be advisable to take the courses that I believe will most help me in the future, rather than worry about the major itself? I am sure that when applying to graduate school, the admissions department does not look at the degree name only and ignore the coursework, however I am also aware that they must sort through many, many applications and that most will not be reviewed in their entirety.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2008 #2
    Grad schools care more about the individual courses you take than the name of any major or minor you may have. The only difference between you and other physics majors is that they probably took more physics classes instead of engineering coursework, which is more favorable to grad schools.
  4. Dec 29, 2008 #3
    Thank you, that's good to know.
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