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Is it easier to get into grad school in condensed matter than in particle physics?

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  • Thread starter Mr.Watson
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Or is it just an urban legend?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Doesn't anyone know?
 
  • #3
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Going by informal statistics at physicsGRE.com... definitely.
 
  • #4
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This question is hopelessly vague. The only possible answer is "sometimes". It depends a great deal on the country and institute you are applying to and what your background is.
 
  • #5
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http://www.aip.org/

If you spend some time browsing the statistics you'll probably find what you're looking for. From the reports they typically publish on first year grad students, it looks like "condensed matter" is the field that gets all the big numbers.
 
  • #6
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On average, the answer is going to be yes. Condensed matter physics is such a broad classification, and it's the largest division of physics, that there are just more condensed matter physicists overall than high energy physicists. High energy physics is smaller, and although they have some really big projects like the LHC, there's still more condensed matter research going on because it's relevant to industry and technology (in a more direct fashion than the LHC and similar projects are). (Plus, lots of the folks working on the LHC are engineers and technicians, not just scientists).

At a given university, they might have a larger high energy faction than condensed matter faction, so at that university it might be easier to get into high energy physics.

It also depends on what subfield of condensed matter you are looking at. There's quite a lot of research on high temperature superconductors or nanomaterials, but maybe not as much on supersolids, for example.

Looking beyond grad school, though, if you intend to keep doing science in the field your get your Ph.D. in, your only option to keep doing high energy physics is to do postdocs and try and get a tenure-track job, which is extremely difficult, to say the least. Condensed matter research which focuses on materials will have many options in industry.
 
  • #7
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Do not confuse size with selectivity. Yes, condensed matter is the largest subfield of physics, but that does not mean that it is less competitive. Harvard is larger than the Marsha Kay Beauty College, but that does not mean it is less competitive.
 

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