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Moving from Engineering to Physics

  1. Nov 14, 2011 #1

    I'm a senior and since I was a Freshman, I wanted to pursue a career in Physics. However, financial reasons and job uncertainties are forcing me to get a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering instead - even thought this isn't the career I want to follow. It's just a safer option for my family and I, since it is easier to find a good paying job with a Engineering degree than with a Physics degree.

    My question is, after I graduate, would I have any chances of entering a Graduate school in Physics? I plan to graduate in one of the best colleges in Latin America and I'm willing to enter some scientific research programs that they offer. I've decided to enter do Electrical Engineering because it overlaps nicely with many Physics courses, but I plan to study all the missing parts on my own as well. Would I have a shot at a top-tier school in Europe or in the U.S.? Or would my bachelor degree in EE be substantially harmful when compared to the pool of other applicants?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2011 #2


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    At a top-tier university your relatively weak application will be competing against strong applications from the rest of the world; undergraduate physics majors, mostly. You'll have a chance, but a very slim one.
  4. Nov 16, 2011 #3
    I would give you the same advice I gave just now to someone trying to switch out of physics to engineering, modified appropriately:

    Since you haven't yet graduated (when do you?) from your undergrad degree... I first REALLY suggest you get into some upper-level coursework in Physics if at all possible. Minimize your "EE" degree and maximize your physics coursework. I'd try to first get into the appropriate upper-level core courses (like EM, Quantum, etc.).

    Why? Completing upper-level coursework in the field with good grades will show you're prepared for graduate coursework in the field (it might also get you away from too much remedial coursework). You'll have a chance to become more familiar with the field and solidify your decision (and it will have the appearance as so to graduate admissions committees). Also: you'll have contact with professors in the field... people who would be best to give you advice on what programs to apply to (i.e. if you are competitive for the "top-ranked" program you desire) and should be the ones to write your letters of recommendation (having those in the field write these letters will be better than having your EE professors write these letters.... or at least BALANCE the two, if you really feel the EE department faculty "know you better"). Also, by getting into the field it might be easier to find research or internships that will strengthen your application (again... depending on the amount of time you have left).

    At this point, it's not appropriate to even ask if you are competitive for the top-ranked programs or not.
  5. Nov 16, 2011 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Another topic that is applicable to what I've written earlier:


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