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Need advice for high energy physics programs with low GPA but good otherwise

  1. Jul 29, 2009 #1
    Top university in my country (Taiwan)
    Undergrad GPA: 3.3/3.1 overall/major
    Grad (Master) GPA: 3.5
    sGRE: 970
    GRE: 580/800/4 v/q/w
    TOEFL: 112
    Publication: 3rd out of 50+ authors in PRL

    I would like to pursue a PhD in physics, but to do that I'd need to get admitted somewhere first... I can get excellent recommendations from my advisor, who is well-known in the field, and from the spokesperson in the collaboration I participated in. I guess the only weak point in my application will be GPA. So I need some realistic advice on which programs to apply for in the field of high energy physics. Top10 is most likely impossible for me, and I'm aiming at schools in top50 (like Rochester). Or is even top50 out of my league?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2009 #2
    You might want to try the UK, we do not look at GPA over here. If you just pass an MSc then there's a good chance of being accepted for a PhD. The important thing to have is good recommendations, and you seem to have that covered.
  4. Jul 30, 2009 #3
    UK seems a great idea. Being able to start PhD right away without doing master again is a plus. I'm not too familiar with UK schools and their rankings, though, and would like some comparisons to US schools.

    Still I'd like some thoughts on US schools. That low GPA is really giving me headaches regarding which schools to apply.
  5. Jul 30, 2009 #4
    UK universities:

    http://www.particlephysics.ac.uk/research/research-groups.html [Broken]

    I don't think you should look at general rankings of universities, look at what the various groups are doing and ask as many physicists as possible (here and in your department) how they rate.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Jul 31, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the help! It seems funding for non-UK/EU students is very little, which could be a problem. I'll go and ask the only British researcher around here. I don't mind too much what experiments are available, though, as they usually participate in LHC in some way, which is good for me. But I must admit not having researched all of them.

    My main concern remains: I don't want suicidal applications to top schools, but really want to go somewhere. I don't know how to do that without looking at the rankings:confused:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Aug 1, 2009 #6
  8. Aug 1, 2009 #7


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    I really, honestly, don't see a problem with you getting into A graduate school with your GPA. Now, I would say that the chances of you getting into a top-flight, brand-name schools will be slim, but it doesn't mean that you still can't get into a good school with a good high energy physics program, and still achieve your goals.

    Divide the pool of schools into 3 categories: (i) the schools that you would like to go to but that you know will be slim to none to get accepted; (ii) the schools that you know will be tough, but still a reasonable chance of getting in; and (iii) the schools that you have know that you will have an excellent chance of getting in.

    You will have to do a bit of a homework to know which school falls into which categories. The Ivy Leaguers, the Stanford, the CalTech, etc., obviously goes into (i). But there are other big schools that you can lump into (ii) and (iii). For example, here in the Chicago area, the University of Illinois at Chicago has a very robust and active high energy physics program. Besides the fact that it is part of the University of Illinois system (UIUC itself would be in category (i)), it is close to Fermilab and has faculty doing active research there. I would definitely say that you have a good chance of getting accepted there simply because it is a smaller school that not many have heard about. I don't doubt that there are similar schools like this all over the country.

    Get the AIP graduate program guide. Really look through each school's programs. If you find a smaller, less well-known school with the HEP program that looks promising, look them up on the web and look up publication list of the professors (use Google Scholar) to see if they are active and still publishing.

    In other words, if you will have to do some legwork yourself to find the best you can get for your qualification. While your GPA may not be stellar, it certainly doesn't disqualify you from going to a respectable graduate program in the area that you have chosen and get a decent education.

  9. Aug 2, 2009 #8
    Thanks for all the help, people!
  10. Aug 10, 2009 #9
    Recommand letter is far important than GPA even in the US
    why don't give it a shot?
    btw, I am studying at tw too ^^
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