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Does Honors status impact admissions for grad school?

  1. Oct 29, 2015 #1
    So I am in my first year of my physics degree at a school that isn't really known for its physics program, (I don't believe it is ranked at all, not that that is a huge deal) and at least right now I am very interested in pursuing a ph.d degree. I had originally intended to do an engineering degree but I realized about a month before classes that I would much rather study what I'm passionate about and I did a last-minute switch into physics. I was walking to one of my labs the other day and saw a little bulletin board with all of these alumni from my school and where they ended up going to grad school. Basically, anyone i saw who went on to pursue a ph.d degree after attending my school had also been in the honors program and graduated with an honors degree. I'm curious as to whether or not coming from a physics school that really isn't on the map for the field with a degree that isn't honors will impact my goals towards a ph.d? I suppose I could look into trying to get admitted into the honors program but I have seen the degree requirements for an B.S and a B.S H degree from my school and there aren't many honors physics classes at all. In fact, the only ones I saw were physics 1 and 2, which I am in right now. I probably only have between 3-8 physics majors in my year, so it seems that they don't really bother adding more honors physics courses when some of the higher level courses are pretty short on students as is. So even if I did get into the honors program, I don't think it would make much of a difference in terms of my undergraduate education. I would basically only be signing myself up to perhaps retake university physics 2 in the honors division and have a smaller choice of honors gen ed courses to fill the requirements. So the only way I would justify doing that is if it had an impact on my grad school admissions. So would this really matter? I'd come out of this particular school with the exact same education that I would without the word "honors" next to my degree. My school's honors program (especially physics) is no where near the step up in difficulty that i have read about at other universities.
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  3. Oct 29, 2015 #2
    I'm not sure how universal this is, but at least at my school the honors department is responsible for giving out research mentorships and for helping apply to national scholarships like the Goldwater. In that regard, it's very useful, even if all of the BS you have to put up with is obnoxious.
  4. Oct 29, 2015 #3
    I was just researching it on my school's website and I found that there is another program called the scholars program that appears to have a lot of relatively dumb seminars and extra projects to fulfill, but these obligations would probably make an application to a grad school look much more desirable. I'm going to look into that for a little bit
  5. Oct 29, 2015 #4
    Probably differs from school to school. I know at mine you are required to have completed an equivalent to an honors program, but don't necessarily have to have an honors degree. Which just means completing a few more physics classes, such as QM II and Statistical Mechanics II.
  6. Oct 29, 2015 #5


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    In some places it can make a huge difference. In others it won't.

    Some schools use "honours" to differential a program intended to prepare students for graduate school from those that do not (for example programs that may have a physics specialization that's geared towards high-school teachers).

    I find it odd that the only difference lies in the first year physics programs. It might be worth contacting someone in the department to discuss this further, in case there is a detail that you're missing. For example sometimes the honours program has requirements that are electives for the non-honours group, or the honours students get first pick of research projects with faculty or something like that.

    The other thing worth considering is this statement:

    This would indicate that the people who've gone on to where you want to go have taken this path and you need to have a very clear understanding of the differences if you want to get to the same place by a different one.
  7. Oct 29, 2015 #6
    That definitely makes sense. I'm gonna check out the requirements again, but I do believe there aren't high level honors physics courses. I believe there is a high level honors research project course, but that should be all. Like I said, it really wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for them to have one; there would just be 2-3 people in the course at most. I'll look into it again, but I think it might be worth applying for that scholars program I mentioned earlier. The next time I'd be able to get into the honors program is when I'm a junior, and they only let 20 juniors in at that point. Not saying that I couldn't be one of those 20 by any means. I'm sure I could be. But the issue is that I don't think it would remotely alter my courseload. I just really want to get into a PhD program. But you're definitely right about watching where my peers paths and following them if I want mine to end the same way.
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