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Admissions Doing a PhD in the USA

  • Thread starter JD_PM
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Hi PF community!

Let me briefly expose you all my situation. I have a degree in Biotech but I've always been interested in Physics. Once I finished it I decided to start studying Physics and it has been the best decision I've ever taken in my life.

I am currently in a 3 year programme which is 1 year of preparation (fundamental bachelor courses) + 2 years of Master's.

I am still in the first year of the programme but I feel like I'd like to do a PhD afterwards. And I'd like to do it in The States (an option would be to do the Master's Theses + PhD).

I have been looking at different universities and all of them request for recommendation letters, taking oral exams, taking GREs...

I have several questions:

1) I see GRE are tests with a wide different range of topics. I see in Physics they ask on CM, Electrodynamics, QM and so on. What's the difficulty of GRE tests and how much time should I study before taking them? (I know the time depends on the person but let's say I have an average knowledge on every topic).

2) How difficult is to get a scholarship for studying in a top university in America? Setting aside good marks, is there anything else I can do to boost my chances to get one?

3) As an immigrant, do I need to present any extra documentation or take any extra test (in English, for instance)?

I feel like I could do something else apart from getting good marks to improve my chances.

My profile is more of a passionate guy rather than a brilliant student.

I'd like to say that the idea of moving to America is a desire not an objective (I do not want to get obsessed with the idea of getting into a big place), but I feel I have to give it a shot.

I know it is may be too soon to be talking about a PhD in my situation but I think is good to plan this with time ahead.

Any advice is appreciated.

Thank you.
 

jtbell

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Have you seen the thread near the top of this forum, titled something like "So you want to be a physicist - 22 part guide"? The descriptions and advice are geared towards US graduate schools.
How difficult is to get a scholarship for studying in a top university in America?
Generally, if you're admitted into a PhD program, you will receive financial aid of some kind: a teaching assistantship in which you teach introductory labs or recitation sections; a research assistantship in which you get paid for helping with a group's research (normally the group with which you do your PhD research); or a fellowship which has no work obligation except to make good progress in your coursework and research (these are normally for only the very best students).
My profile is more of a passionate guy rather than a brilliant student.
In that case you probably want to aim for lower-tier schools than the "top universities" (e.g. MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Chicago, Caltech, Stanford). :oldwink:
take any extra test (in English, for instance)?
Most schools will probably require you to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Google it.
What's the difficulty of GRE tests and how much time should I study before taking them?
In the US, students take the GRE during the summer after the third year of a 4-year undergraduate program, or during the fall of the fourth year. Questions are at a level that should have been reached in courses up to that point. You can find a summary and a practice book at the physics GRE web site.
 

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