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Programs Engineering science B.S. -> physics phD?

  1. Jun 3, 2008 #1
    Engineering science B.S. --> physics phD?

    Hello PF,

    I will graduate next spring with a B.S. in engineering science, and will be applying this fall for graduate school. I have found physics much more fulfilling than engineering and would like to enter a physics phD problem. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I've had the background to take the physics GRE. By graduation I will have taken:

    Intro sequence, E&M I/II, Modern Physics, P.Chem, Calc sequence, diff eq, PDE, complex analysis, and linear algebra

    Is the physics GRE required, and would they even accept me with my course deficit (even a top tier school)? Could I take the missing courses at a state school, and apply later, and what am I missing besides CM and QM? I have a high GPA and a few research projects, if that helps.

    Sorry for the barrage of questions. Feel free to answer any of them or to scold me for insolence.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 3, 2008 #2
    If you get accepted to a grad school, they will probably stick you in undergrad classes for awhile. Grad schools accept students that don't have an excellent background all the time though, so go for it!
  4. Jun 3, 2008 #3
    These students suffer in grad school all the time too. I am not trying to discourage you to go to grad school. But you should pick up an E&M book by jackson to see how grad school is like. If those maths tricks confuses you, you should start some self-teaching
  5. Jun 3, 2008 #4
    Thanks for the replies guys. I'm really just concerned about getting in, I don't mind being behind. I was thinking of applying for physics at a few places, and for materials science at others in case physics doesn't want me. But if not having a GRE is a death sentence, I'll have to find another way (more courses/masters/selling soul/etc)
  6. Jun 3, 2008 #5


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    Try reading this thread:


  7. Jun 3, 2008 #6


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    My grad school admits a few engineers into the physics PhD program every year. I have yet to see one complete it - most don't make it past the first year. And my school is a pretty easy program. A few grad schools don't require the physics GRE, but most do. If you do manage to get into one, be prepared to catch up. The grad level courses assume a knowledge of undergrad physics, so you'll have to take a few undergrad courses your first year. You won't be the only grad student taking them - I took a few as well, coming from a liberal arts school (no QM II or E&M II).

    A lot of applied physics programs don't require the physics GRE for admission, even at top schools, so you can look into that too.

    Good luck - once you make it past the coursework and quals, the rest is easy! (says the girl who still has yet to do her topic defense)
  8. Jun 3, 2008 #7
    Well Jackson is not a good example of what grad is like, except for in the sense of hazing and useless work (*cough* edit: of course there is alot of useful work, but there is drudgery just as there is with any job). Most of the textbooks I had in grad school were actually insightful, well written and not obsessed with applied math gymnastics. Besides the OP already took a ton of applied math and should be ready for Jackson.

    No, I think that the problem with the engineering science background is not the math. The problem is not taking enough physics. He has had no qm, no stat mech, no serious upper level modern physics electives. Pchem is better than nothing, but I have a feeling that it's qm and sm that will kick his butt. The problem will surface as soon as he hears something like "it's just a Bose-Einstein condensate..." and he's like "what in the who now?"
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
  9. Jun 3, 2008 #8
    that sounds about right.

    Thanks everyone for the replies. It seems as though I won't be able to march in and take physics by storm. Can anyone say anything about taking non-degree seeking courses after graduation vs. a non-thesis masters at an inexpensive university, if I was trying to level the playing field?
  10. Jun 4, 2008 #9
    Have you tried applying for Applied Physics programs? I think they're more engineering-oriented than regular physics programs.
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