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Admissions How much weight does a specific field within a department carry for grad admissions?

  1. Mar 29, 2012 #1
    I'm browsing through some acceptances posted by prospective graduate students here: http://www.physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4274
    and there are some guys with very close to 4.0 GPAs and great GRE scores along with pretty good research experiences and letters of recommendations that are getting rejected from top schools when other students with lower GPA and GRE scores but with similar research experience are getting accepted to them. The only real difference I noticed is the field within Physics they applied for.

    When applying to a department in general, how much does the sub-department you're applying for matter? For example, in Physics they have different sub-fields such as AMO Experiment, HEP, Plasma Physics, Condensed Matter, etc. If those students who got rejected applied to a different field (and possibly done their research in a different area), would that have affected their application?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2012 #2
    Re: How much weight does a specific field within a department carry for grad admissio

    Yes, certain sub-departments are harder to get in than others.
    For instance, HEP Theory is the hardest to get in and in general, it's harder to get in to the theory side.
     
  4. Mar 30, 2012 #3

    Choppy

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    Re: How much weight does a specific field within a department carry for grad admissio

    The way it has worked at the universities I've been affiliated with is that at some point a decision will be made on how many graduate students will be accepted for that year. Then that will be broken down - so many spots for one field, so many for another - largely depending on factors such as the relative size of each subfield within the department, the number of students graduating, faculty members with grants, etc.

    So yes some subfields are easier to get into than others.
     
  5. Mar 30, 2012 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: How much weight does a specific field within a department carry for grad admissio

    I haven't seen in this regimented. one reason is that experience has shown that students interested in one thing coming in often get new and different ideas and move around. This is natural, as they might have heard of HEP and superconductivity, but not, say mesoscopic physics or thin films.

    However, there is a sort of soft balancing. We're not going to accept a class that only wants to do solid state, or HEP, or theory, or experiment.
     
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