Getting into phd programs

In summary: So, getting good grades in courses that are related to your PhD research is important. However, getting a really high GPA is not the only thing that matters.
  • #1
im an undergraduate and this is my first semester as a physics major. i was talking with another person in the physics program and he was mentioning that the minimum gpa to get into my current schools graduate program is a 3.9 and while it is a good school it isn't MIT or Cal tech. i was wondering what types of things other than gpa look good when applying to a physics phd program because I am not sure if I am going to get a gpa that high.
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  • #2
3.9 out of 4? I question the accuracy of that statement.
  • #3
well i acknowledge 3.9 may have be off, but still, other than gpa whatlooks good on an application into a phd for physics because high gpas are definitely desired and i want to maximize my opportunity, and also i doubt my ability to get a rearlly high gpa.
  • #4
I have never applied for a phd program so take what I say with a grain of salt until someone who has comes along and confirms it. However, I will post what I have collected from similar threads because I was in a similar boat and asked the same questions once. I simply have yet to test the answers I was provided :P

I have read nothing about GPA requirements so I won't comment on that.

Attending talks at your school and colloquiums is one thing I have read makes a difference. Not only do you learn how the system works, get to see what's going on at your school as far as research goes and what the phd students are doing, but you will also eventually be recognized as you attend more of these meetings.

Get to know your professors as best you can. They are going to be busy but they are also perceptive. Look for opportunities to help or get involved, and basically be social.

Also, being a TA and/or similar activities will significantly improve your standing with your professors. Get involved.
  • #5
Most schools set a minimum gpa of 3.0 or thereabouts. If you're applying with a gpa of 3.0 though you had better have some other qualifications that make you stand out... in fact, if you're applying with a gpa of 4.0 you should have other qualifications that make you stand out. A phd program is not a bunch of classes where your success is based off of grades, it's a program where you are going to spend more than half of your time doing independent research. Doing an REU or other research as an undergraduate is what they really want to see, along with letter of recommendations from people who will testify to your desire and ability to succeed.
  • #6
bfusco said:
i was talking with another person in the physics program and he was mentioning that the minimum gpa to get into my current schools graduate program is a 3.9 and while it is a good school it isn't MIT or Cal tech.

Was this other person someone that should know something since I don't believe this.

The reason that I don't believe this is that different schools have different grading policies. There is usually a hard limit at 3.0 because if you get below 3.0 in any US undergraduate program, you messed up. At the high levels, it's not clear what a 3.9 means. A 3.9 in one school could be a 3.6 somewhere else, so if you set in a minimum of 3.9 you are just making it easier for people from "easy schools" to get in.

Also once you have decent numbers, what you get your GPA in is more important than what the GPA itself is. Someone that gets 3.5 GPA taking courses like quantum field theory, general relativity, and algebraic topology is a *lot* more attractive than someone that gets a 4.0 with basic algebra or business calculus.

1. What qualifications do I need to have to apply for a PhD program?

In general, most universities require applicants to have a Bachelor's and/or Master's degree in a related field, a strong academic record, and high scores on standardized tests such as the GRE. Additionally, research experience, publications, and letters of recommendation can also strengthen your application.

2. Can I apply for a PhD program if my undergraduate degree is in a different field?

Yes, many universities welcome students from diverse academic backgrounds. However, you may be required to take some prerequisite courses to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in the field of study.

3. How important are GRE scores in the application process?

While GRE scores are important, they are not the only factor considered in the application process. Admissions committees also look at other materials such as your statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and research experience. However, it is still important to prepare and aim for a competitive GRE score.

4. Is it necessary to have a Master's degree before applying for a PhD program?

No, it is not always necessary to have a Master's degree before applying for a PhD program. Some universities offer combined Bachelor's and Master's programs, while others allow students to enter directly into a PhD program with a Bachelor's degree. However, having a Master's degree may give you a competitive edge in the application process and can also serve as a stepping stone towards a PhD.

5. What can I do to improve my chances of getting accepted into a PhD program?

Aside from having a strong academic record and relevant experience, it is important to carefully research and select the programs you apply to, tailor your application materials to each program, and make sure to meet all application deadlines. It can also be beneficial to reach out to potential advisors and network with current students or faculty in the program.

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