Hi all again, I started a post earlier and it was buried somewhere by now. I really need more input and information and hope you all can help. How are admission process different, CM vs MS&E? CM belongs to Physics department while MS&E is usually on the engineering side. I got my Physics degree from a big public school with good reputation in physics. However, I wasn't able to get into the competitive programs for CM Experiment (those 17 listed on US News). I sort of understand what I screwed up and now I am trying to correct it. I have received many advice from various people, including people from physicsforum, my professors, admission committee, my PI and etc... It basically comes down to 3 options... 1.) Find opportunity and work hard to gain authorship on a publication, then apply again for CM programs (Fall, 2016) (advice from one of my PI.) 2.) Re-apply again but don't go for top 20, basically apply anywhere between 20~50th ranking school this Fall, 2015. (advice from another one of my PI.) 3.) Don't go into Condensed Matter, switch field to Material Science. Get more research experience in the engineering and applied physics field and then apply Fall, 2016. (My GPA is 3.6 upper div and 3.55 cumulative, pretty much 50/50 A's and B's evenly distributed. I tend to get A's in solid state/CM courses, E&M, and Quantum.) My Quant GRE is 90th percentile at 165/170, and Physics GRE at 83th percentile at 880/990 2 academic research experience and 1 internship in material characterization industry. I love learning more about solid state theories, but when it comes to research I think I prefer application side of solid state theories. The problem with me is that I didn't have an opportunity to work in a solid state experimental lab. I worked for a theorist and I wasn't able to gain a lot of hands on experience. Is material science more difficult for physics major to get into or is it easier? What are the major factors that contribute to the successful admission to good programs? Can I submit my physics GRE to Engineering department? My ultimate goal in science is to go into industry. It may seem counter-intuitive to go for PhD if I just want to work in industry. Well I really love the subject, I just want to learn more. I am aware of the fact that academic jobs are way too competitive for me and also it isn't exactly my lifestyle. So Which advice should I listen to? Go to a lower ranked CM school or try to aim high by working harder? Or completely switch field to Material Science? (Perhaps MS&E is a better fit for my career goal) Thank you very much for helping me out.