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I'm looking for some guidance

  1. Dec 27, 2009 #1
    I have a couple of questions for whomever is out there and may want to lend me an opinion or two..

    So here's the jist of my current situation: I have an Associates degree in Computer Science, where I studied a lot of hardware/software repair and some networking and programming. After about 6 months of working as a network technician I decided the work did not interest me as much as I had hoped. My last two semesters of my Associates degree I had taken a bunch of math courses and 2 courses in classical mechanics (both algebra-based), as corny as it sounds, I fell in love with science at that point. I spent my free time reading text books and learning some other topics in physics and decided to enter into a Bsc program in Forensic Science. I'm two semesters in and have been thoroughly enjoying the coursework, and I've been taking all math electives and was recently informed that I can be granted a Minor in Mathematics if I keep taking electives of the sort. All good, except for the fact that, while I do enjoy Bio and Chem, I really know in my heart that I want to make a career in Physics. Now I can only take two calculus-based Physics course during my next few years as well as one Physics elective that will go toward my Minor. My main question is: will I have a hard time getting into a physics graduate program (Most likely a Msc) if i have a degree in Forensic Science? Should I transfer to school where I can attain an undergrad degree in Physics before I start taking classes that won't transfer? Every time I attempt to speak to anyone that may be able to help me, I just get beaten around a bush. I hope someone on here can help me out. Also a quick overview of my current program (only the sciences):

    2 Semesters Biology
    2 Semesters Chemistry
    1 Semester Quantum or Physical Chemistry
    2 Semesters Criminalistics
    2 Semesters Physics

    and I currently have completed Calculus 1 and 2 (signed up for 3 in the spring) and a linear Algebra course. I plan on taking Differential Equations next Fall and I need to choose one Physics elective that can go toward my minor also, though I'm unsure of what it will be.

    Thanks in advance, sorry for the long winded post, I'm just trying to be thorough.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2009 #2


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    You'll need to fill in several gaps before starting grad-level classes in physics. For example, you will need to take upper division E&M and quantum mechanics, because they are prerequisites for many graduate level courses.

    (BTW, I've taken quantum from both the chemistry and physics departments, and the physics one was much more rigorous. I could be wrong but based on my experience, P-chem won't prepare you for graduate level quantum in a physics program.)

    It's possible that you could be admitted to a physics MS program with the understanding that you will take make-up courses before you start graduate level courses, but that depends on the department to which you apply.

    If you're certain you want to study physics, could you change majors at this point? Or perhaps do a double major in forensic science and physics?
  4. Dec 29, 2009 #3
    I can transfer if I have to, but I really would like to avoid that option. As for the prereqs that you stated, I believe I may be able to get them out of the way as science electives, even if one of the classes isn't absolutely needed to go toward my degree. I'm kind of hoping that with a few extra classes or two, I can make this work. I do appreciate your advice, thanks a lot.
  5. Dec 29, 2009 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I think you are underestimating the number of classes one expects an entering physics graduate student to have had. Usually it's 2-3 semesters of elementary physics, 2 of QM (as Lisa says, in a fairly rigorous manner), one of E&M and one of stat mech, 2 of advanced lab, 5-6 of math and maybe some electives.

    The other good reason to do this is that upper-division physics classes can be quite different than elementary physics: it can be the case that people who enjoy one are less happy about the other. It's in your interest to see if this is really the path you want to go down before going too far along it.
  6. Dec 29, 2009 #5


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    We have these questions quite often, and I've written in another thread what I think people from another field of study should evaluate when considering doing graduate work in physics. So read this:


  7. Dec 29, 2009 #6
    Thanks, guys.. I guess I am sort of underestimating things. I may be looking for a new place to study come the fall of 2010... I really do appreciate all the advice.
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