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Graduate School in Chemical Physics

  1. Mar 15, 2014 #1
    I'm currently a junior at large state school and am a biochemistry major. I started college in a cell biology major, then realized how much I hated cell biology classes (although I remain fascinated by the chemical reactions and complex chemical structure in living things) and how much I loved chemistry. I switched to biochemistry. Last semester I took chemical thermodynamics and even though I started off thinking it was pretty dry, I grew to like it a lot. This semester I am taking quantum chemistry, I am excelling at it and I think it is the most incredibly amazing and interesting subject I have ever studied. I have been looking into graduate programs in quantum chemistry and chemical physics and at labs in which molecules of biological importance (proteins and nucleic acids) are the primary subject of research.
    My question is, do I have a chance of being accepted to one of these programs?
    I will list my relevant coursework below:

    Calculus I & II (8 credits) - single variable calculus
    Calculus III (4 credits) (currently enrolled)
    Differential equations (4 credits) (will take in summer)
    I also plan on taking 6 credits of advanced calculus coursework including matricies.

    Classical mechanics (4 credits) - Algebra based (so much regret)
    Electricity, Magnetism, Light, and Optics (4 credits) - Algebra based (even more regret)

    General Chemistry 1 & 2 (8 credits)
    Organic Chemistry 1 & 2 plus lab (8 credits)
    Physical Chemistry - Thermodynamics (3 credits)
    Physical Chemistry - Quantum (currently enrolled) (3 credits)
    Biochemistry 1 & 2 (6 credits)
    I plan on taking the following:
    Inorganic Chemistry (3 credits)
    Transition Metal and Organometallic Chemistry (3 credits)
    Computational Chemistry (3 credits)
    Analytical Chemistry (3 credits)

    Molecular and Cell bology:
    Molecular biology 1 and 2 (6 credits)
    Genetics (3 credits)
    Lab courses (8 credits)

    I also work in a molecular biophysics lab as an undergrad research assistant.

    Current GPA: 3.93. I expect to graduate with a GPA above 3.90.

    My main concern is the algebra based physics courses I took. I took them as a freshman when I thought I wanted to become a cell biologist. Although I do not have room in my schedule to repeat the coursework in a calculus based physics course, I would not have a problem with taking courses in theoretical mechanics as a graduate student and I would not have a problem with taking a calculus based course in E&M either.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2014 #2
    Physical Chemistry would probably be more appropriate as a graduate school than chemical physics. For the most part, Physical Chemistry looks at Chemistry and Physics related problems from a Chemistry point of view and Chemical Physics from a Physics point of view. I cannot speak as to the admissions part. Also, you may want to give Modern Physical Organic Chemistry by Anslyn a look.
  4. Oct 31, 2014 #3


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    Looks like you're thoroughly prepared for chemistry graduate school. You could still apply to chemical physics programs but they will require you to take at least undergraduate classical mechanics and E&M once you are admitted. Maybe even graduate-level. Course-wise it seems like chemical physics programs consist mostly of statistical mechanics, physical chemistry, and quantum chemistry. Physical chemistry would be very similar except you would probably have more core chem course requirements. I was interested in doing chemical physics as well so I researched several programs and that is what I discovered.
  5. Oct 31, 2014 #4


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    Gold Member

    My Ph.D. is in chemical physics (through a chemistry department). Your credentials and GPA look fine for admission to a chemistry department. If you really feel that you need to take a refresher course in physics, they'll probably let you. I and a few of my classmates took courses in the physics department. The one caveat (which might be specific to my school) is that they were grad-level physics courses, which are quite a bit more rigorous than intro level undergrad physics. But looking at your qualifications, I doubt you'll have too much trouble. Good luck!
  6. Oct 31, 2014 #5
    Hey thanks for the replies to my 7 month old thread guys! I just figured I'd give an update. Rather than inorganic chemistry and organometallic/transition metal chemistry, I decided to take modern physics and a 400 level classical mechanics course. I'll be applying to graduate schools extremely soon (mainly chemical physics and biophysics programs).
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