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I know this is generic, but

  1. Apr 13, 2010 #1
    I am a high school student with a strong interest/aptitude in Physics. Recently, I have been considering the possibility of earning (remember, this is hypothetical) a Ph. D in Physics, but I am not sure of what is required, or what the coursework is like (whenever I look online, I can never get a good, definitive answer), etc.

    So, PF, I would like to know:

    -What are some good academic prerequisites? (When applying for the initial program, i.e. B.Sc., and then the actual Ph. D program itself)

    -What can I do to prepare for it? (mentally, academically, etc.)

    -What are the earnings?

    -What are the jobs that can be done with the Ph. D? (relates to previous question)

    -What is the coursework like? Does it vary from college to college?

    - ^Is it challenging?

    -Are good math skills really necessary? (Not saying that I don't have them...)

    -What is the final dissertation like? (poorly formatted question, lol)

    -Which colleges/universities have the best programs?

    -Are the admissions competitive? (another poorly formatted question, lol)

    And finally, probably the most important:

    In the end, is it really worth it?

    I would really appreciate your responses. Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2010 #2
    This is really a personal question. It's like asking us if you'll like Bavarian funk-techno of something. You have to talk to undergrads, grad students, professors, physicists, basically whoever will listen and make this decision on your own. ZapperZ's guide "So you want to be a physicist?" is stickied on this forum; I'd give it a read if I were you.

    What I can tell you; yes it is hard, yes you need math, yes it is competitive. As for the rest of them, they really are easily answered by just doing a few forum searches. Good luck.
  4. Apr 13, 2010 #3
    Bsc or Msc at a good standard is required.

    You're far too long off to worry about mental preparation. As far as academic preparation goes, the same advice that you'll be given for undergraduate - work hard in all of your courses, even if you don't find it interesting.

    For what? During the PhD itself or for people afterwards? During the PhD earnings are low (you'd be much better off financially if you just went and 'got a job'). Afterwards, earning opportunities vary hugely depending on what you want to do.

    As with most of your questions, this has been answered hundreds of times before, do a search. I remember responding to two of these threads within the past week or two anyway. Shot answer: lots of jobs. For industry jobs, the interest about a PhD graduate is that they've gained skills in project management etc. These skills are desirable in many disciplines.

    It varies hugely. But yes, you need to have a degree first, so you should expect it to be more difficult than undergraduate.

    It depends which subject area you work in. I would take a lot of math courses during your undergraduate to prepare yourself either way.

    Stressful. The final submission is, afterall, the culmination of many years work. Like a book, only everyone will tell you it's rubbish and you have to explain why it isn't.

    PhD programmes don't work like this. It's about the reputation of the research group/supervisor that works within a department, within the university. Prestige of university isn't so important, it's more about the supervisor you work with (and these certainly don't always correlate).


    As was said by the previous poster, it's entirely a personal question. Generally, it isn't wise to pursue a PhD for financial or career based means. It's something you do if you really want to. If it then helps you get a better spot on the career ladder, then great - but there's no guarantee it will.
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