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Grad school for physics with a minor in physics?

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I will be taking more than enough physics courses to satisfy a physics major at the Univeristy of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma State University.

SWOSU does not offer a physics major, but offers an engineering physics major. Thus, I will only be able to satisfy a physics minor. I have been attending SWOSU for a year and 1/2 now, and I like it here, so I want to stay if possible. I get a full ride scholarship to SWOSU because of my GPA and other stuff, but I won't get a full ride to OU or OSU.

I would get an engineering physics degree, but I find engineering courses (what I like to call "bridge building" courses) to be as plain and boring as rubbing my forehead on sand paper for 1/2 an hour (and, yes, I've done that before).

I currently have a 4.0 GPA and plan on keeping it that way.

I know I will score high on the PGRE and general GRE because I will study intensively for both and have scored in the top 4% or better on all of the standardized tests I have taken thus far (ACT, IQ).

I will do at least 2 Summer REUs for physics (preferably particle physics).

Question: Will grad schools look past my label of "physics minor" while considering all of the information above?
 

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  • #2
Pengwuino
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Compare your courses with the courses at a university that does offer a BS in physics. If you pretty much would satisfy a BS at another university, you would probably not have many problems. Be careful about being too confident on the PGRE. Remember, you're testing against thousands of people who were also the top 4% or even top 1% in their testing. You need to realize who you compete against. For example, for the quantitative part of the regular GRE, a 780-800 is pretty much expected. Though in all fairness, when you look at the type of questions, you'll see it's basically like trying to do a very simple maze, but you only get 1 shot. The PGRE is nothing like that, however.
 
  • #3
Choppy
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Usually to get into physics graduate school you need an undergraduate degree in physics "or equivalent." A minor does not constitute "or equivalent" so I would be a little careful about this. Also, you haven't mentioned what your degree will actually be in. Engineering physics for example is generally acceptable. Physical chemistry, mathematics and other engineering degrees are also commonly considered, but I wouldn't count on them being a "given."

I'm not trying to rain on your parade. It's just that sometimes even if by all logic you should qualify for something, if the names of the hoops you've jumped through don't match up you may end up disappointed. Your best bet would be to contact a few graduate schools and ask if your specific current plan would qualify you for admission.

Also, don't put much faith in IQ tests.
 
  • #4
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Depending on what you take in your minor, you would have to take some of the undergrad courses. For my physics minor, if I wanted to go to grad school for physics, it looks like I would just have to take E&M, solid state, and maybe particle, depending on my grad electives. I've already taken Mechanics, QM, and I'll start Thermal next week. I'm a math major.
 
  • #5
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Friend of mine has an actual tested IQ of 110 (High Average) and completed his Physics degree (B.S.) with honors, so I wouldn't place too much emphasis on IQ. He works harder and practices on problems which is a factor to do well. I also believe understanding is a major contribution to do well, if you know over memorize, you will do better on a lot of problems that come your way.

In any case, if you study as hard as you plan on, then you should score well. Take precautions in the test though. However, I would not take the PGRE lightly if I were you. It is good to be confident but not overly confident to the point you make mistakes and actually inhibit your learning when preparing for the test.
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50
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There are a couple of issues here.

One is that as your academic career advances, you will find yourself less and less close to the top. Suppose someone is in the top 5% of their high school class. They might be in the top 10% of their college class. Among people applying to grad school, in the top 25%. Among people finishing grad school, the top 50%. So, as they say "past performance is no guarantee of future results".

The other is whether or not you are prepared. I think you have good and bad news here. Your coursework is marginal, but probably acceptable. I'd like to have seen more lab work and more QM, but you're not in too bad a shape. The bad news is that the course descriptions look kind of thin - the classes don't seem to cover as much material as elsewhere. Course descriptions are notoriously inaccurate, but it is something to look out for.

I would let my advisor and all my professors know of your plans early and often. They can help ensure that you are adequately prepared.
 
  • #7
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I forgot to mention that I will be getting a math degree.
 
  • #8
lisab
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.... as plain and boring as rubbing my forehead on sand paper for 1/2 an hour (and, yes, I've done that before).
I usually read books to learn things but I never thought about that before! I hope this works...
 
  • #10
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What grit of sand paper?
 

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