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Low ranked MS+PhD programs in the US?

  1. Jan 3, 2014 #1
    Hi. I am a Physics undergrad in India, in year 2 of 3. I feel like I want to pursue Astrophysics, but I'm not a 100% sure about the field.

    I'll be applying to some of the low ranked PhD programs in the US, along with some MSc programs in Europe. Can someone list these programs in the US? I'm talking rank 75 or lower. Also, I would prefer if these universities offered a MS degree along the way - just in case I want to leave, for whatever reasons(change of field, change of country etc). I can email the grad school offices myself about the MS degree, so just a list of the programs will suffice. Are the QS and USNews rankings accurate enough?

    Thanks!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2014 #2

    Choppy

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    Why would you chose a university for your PhD based exclusively on its rank on an arbitrary scale and then go one step further and limit yourself to some threshold?

    In selecting PhD programs to apply to, it would seem prudent to search by your interests. What sub-field do you want to work in? Is there a particular project you have in mind? What skills do you hope to gain while you're completing your PhD? What kind of people would you like to work with? What kind of facilities would be idea? These are all the kinds of questions that will help you narrow down your choices, and find something that's a better match to what you really want to do, as well as improve your chances of admission, than trying to aim at a particular ranking group.
     
  4. Jan 4, 2014 #3
    My local university, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, has one of the newer and less selective graduate programs. They have access to a 0.8 meter telescope, and some of the faculty work or have worked at nearby NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
     
  5. Jan 4, 2014 #4
    The obvious way to find whatever-ranked universities seems to be digging up a ranking and getting the names from there. Where else is the "rank" supposed to come from in the first place if not from a ranking?
     
  6. Jan 4, 2014 #5

    utkarshakash

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    May I know in which college do you currently study in India?
     
  7. Jan 4, 2014 #6
    Well, here's the thing - I'm not a strong applicant. 3 year undergrad from a poor quality college, almost no research experience, average LORs. Which is why I want to get a list of 10-15 colleges, and then sort my way through them.

    I did check out UofMaryland, looked good. Thanks!

    True, I was just unsure which ranking system was more accurate ; QS or USNews.

    Delhi University.
     
  8. Jan 4, 2014 #7

    utkarshakash

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    Why do you consider DU a poor quality university? It's not that bad. Was taking physics as an undergrad on your mind or did you take it because you had no other options left? Did you try for IITs?
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  9. Jan 4, 2014 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    The thing is, there simply is no mediocre universities that offer a PhD in physics. Further, US News rankings are not terribly relevant: the #73 school on their list is the best school in nuclear physics.

    One thing you should be aware of is that there are essentially an infinite number of prospective physics grad students from India or China. A mediocre student from these companies have a long line of people ahead of them.
     
  10. Jan 4, 2014 #9

    Choppy

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    Sure. You can't apply to all of them, so I understand that it makes sense to apply where you think you'll have the best chance of acceptance.

    But what I'm saying is that the system doesn't really work that way. A lower ranking doesn't necessarily mean an easier chance of acceptance. Your chances of getting accepted anywhere (not to mention doing well once you're in) are a lot higher if you make personal contact with people in the department, exchange some emails, and genuinely learn about the particular program.
     
  11. Jan 6, 2014 #10
    Well I'm just going off of what has been my own experience. The faculty is terrible, the system and infrastructure even worse. I always wanted to do physics, but I put all my eggs into one basket and only applied to colleges in the US for undergrad. Got selected at one of my listed places, but didn't get the required financial aid.

    Really? Why is that so? Seems counter-intuitive to me. I am more than willing to learn about a specific program, and exchange emails, but I don't want to do it if I have next to none chance of getting in...
     
  12. Jan 6, 2014 #11

    Choppy

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    Well you have to consider how these rankings come about. Many of the factors considered have little to do with what's important to you as a graduate student. How many nobel prizes that school has collected in chemistry is likely of little consequence to you if you want to study astronomy, for example. Or, as Vanadium 50 pointed out the #73 school on the US News rankings has the "best" program in nuclear physics. So what this means is that the number and quality of of applicants for a particular sub-field within a department may not correlate with the school's ranking.

    Personally I think the best strategy is to start with the programs that you're most interested in and eliminate those that you think are the long shots.
     
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