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Do I need research in my desired area of study?

  1. Jul 20, 2015 #1
    I was unable to fit any more details into the title. I'm a rising junior undergraduate electrical engineering student. My primary research interests (at the moment) are Electromagnetics, plasmas, solid state devices--pretty much any field with a heavy physics overlap.

    Unfortunately, none of the professors in my department have research interests similar to mine (except for one, and I don't think he takes on undergraduate students for research).

    I do have research experience in the area of robotics and networking, and I've been doing that since I started college. I'll have 4 years of research experience in those areas by the time I graduate. In addition, I may be able to get involved with another professor doing image processing work. However, these fields are (to my knowledge) somewhat removed from my research interests. I'm concerned that not having experience doing research in my actual preferred sub fields will put me at a disadvantage when applying to top graduate schools in the field, as I'm sure other students will be applying who actually have done research in those fields.

    So, assuming that I take the appropriate courses to serve as an introduction to a sub field I want to do research in, will not having research experience in that specific sub field cause me to be at a disadvantage in terms of graduate admissions in electrical engineering (or even applied physics) in the United states, particularly at higher-ranked programs, even if I have research experience in other areas of electrical engineering?

    I'm sure there's a lot of overlap between this question and the same question for physics majors (e.g. Wanting to go into cosmology while only having experience with solid state physics).
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2015 #2
    Graduate admissions? What degree and what field?
  4. Jul 20, 2015 #3
    I've slightly edited the OP. I'm specifically referring to electrical engineering graduate programs. If the answer would differ whether it would be masters or Ph.D, then I'd like to see both (the jury is still out on which one I'll do). I'd also like to know how it applies to applied physics programs (assuming the courses I end up taking provide me with a strong enough background should I decide to do that--but I'm aware this would probably be very competitive).
  5. Jul 20, 2015 #4


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    It will also depend on the country you want to go to.
  6. Jul 20, 2015 #5
    This is all in the US.
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