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Into Physics from Nothing

  1. Dec 17, 2013 #1
    Greetings everyone!

    Without wasting any time, I would like to ask for a a piece of advice.

    I graduated a couple of years ago with a bachelor in biology. Immediately, I stepped into teaching elementary or primary science at some schools. And since science isn't all about biology only, I've came across some physics topics (elementary physics topics like the gravity, electricity...). As odd and as lame as it might sound, a never felt interest gradually took over. I let this interest freely control my life, so I'd find myself reading physics books (not university level books) and browsing through the internet for physics phenomena, just as I am doing now.
    Anyway, I've made a decent amount of money over the past 2 years from teaching, enough money that will allow me to comfortably pursue my graduate studies. Now initially, I looked to this interest in physics as a mere say 'hobby' just as a sales promoter would watch boxing matches, but still at times envisions himself in the ring throwing'em jabs and hooks. I actually started envisioning myself studying physics and exploring this field hungrily. Lately, I've been seriously thinking about my chances in studying physics and I'm at the verge of deciding what I should be studying.
    Assuming we neglect the waste of time and money and that we neglect the possibilities of me blowing off decent opportunities I might meet if I will have continued grad studies in my current field, do you think a person with no undergraduate physics or maths knowledge, like myself, could jump into a graduate physics program and pull it off? Now I'm not talking about my chances of getting acceptance into the program as I already know the answers for that. Or, do you think I should rather take an unusual step by going back to undergrad school and start studying physics from zero?

    Appreciate your opinions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2013 #2


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    Gold Member


    Well, maybe.

    But mostly no.

    But that's doesn't mean it's impossible.

    You'll want to return to school, take the physics courses (and perhaps not the whole degree), as well as any upper division math courses you may have been able to skip out on.

    Then you'll want to get an EXCEPTIONAL score on your pGRE. You need to show that you're capable of even attempting their program (most require a physics B.S, but some don't. You still need the pre-reqs).

    I'd highly suggest taking time to do an internship related to physics or biophysics as well, if you're wanting to g oto graduate school for physics. They not only need to know you can do the physics, but you can DO the physics.

    It might be easier to get a second B.S (if you can fund it) and go that way. Or a M.S in biophysics.
  4. Dec 17, 2013 #3


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    Education Advisor

    You need an undergraduate degree in physics or a closely related physical science (i.e. physical chemistry or engineering physics) to do graduate studies in physics. So, if you want to go to graduate school, you'll have to start by getting that.

    It might be worth your while to take a few night school courses at your community college to really see if this is something you want to do without quitting your day job.
  5. Dec 17, 2013 #4


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    One could pursue a graduate program in biology or related field, otherwise, one would need the better part of a physics undergrad program (at least the upper level courses) before venturing into a graduate program in physics. The introductory courses prepare one for upper level undergrad courses, while the upper level courses for graduate programs. To be effective in graduate school, one needs a strong foundation from an undergrad program.

    This site gives one an overview of the field - http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.html
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