New 18yo Indian Student Seeking Advice on Physics Degrees

  • #1
Hello! I am new here, this is basically my first post.

I am an 18 year old from India, just finished high school. It is my wish to pursue a career in physics, going into research and/or academics. However I am somewhat apprehensive about the level of science education one gets in Indian colleges, especially when compared to the education one may get abroad, say for example in the US or in Europe. Is the difference in level negligible or is the gulf quite huge?

I plan to abroad for my Masters degree(can't do so for my bachelor degree), probably to the US, and I really wonder whether I will be able to stay on the same plane as everybody else in the course. Of course, I also wouldn't want to enter into a 3 year course that wouldn't provide me as much benefit as say, an electrical engineering or computer science and engineering course as far physics and mathematics are concerned.

Which finally brings me to this : everyone around me keeps urging me on to do engineering rather than physics, saying the B.Sc degree doesn't have much value at all, and engineering affords better job opportunities(which seems kind of shallow for me, I find engineering interesting, but not as much as pure science and research, going into it for the money just turns me off). Some also say that the BSc degrees in physics in India are quite elementary, and physics savvy courses in engineering more than cover up for a degree in physics. I have no idea about how true these statements are.

Anyone from my country, or anyone at all, who has any knowledge about how these things go about, or how true those statements are?
If I am to do a degree in physics, which colleges would be most preferable? I would want to keep in mind my Masters degree as well, I want to do it at a really prestigious institute abroad, and would want to get into a college from which admission to these institutes would be made easier.

I an sorry for the long post, hell it was to be much longer than this but I shortened it somewhat. Can anyone please help me out?
  • #2
Undergrad science in India is not as bad as it is made out to be. My university (Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI)) has a great BSc. (Hons.) Physics program, and the degree is by no means "elementary". You can get our course details etc. on our website. And a majority of our alums are in PhD programs in US/Europe.

The IISER's are good institutes, but I've heard mixed reviews about their physics departments. Also, a few of the IIT's have very good 5-yr integrated MSc. Physics programs.

Although, if you've already passed high-school, you might have to worry about application deadlines etc.

Hope that helped!
  • #3
Well that is reassuring, though I still have my doubts. I don't have much hope for the IISER's or the IITs, my JEE didn't go well, can't say I didn't expect it, I hardly prepared for it, was never intending to go into engineering, although my parents wanted me to. I kind of messed up my 12th board exams as well, the school I went to was horrible for my 11th and 12th, although I am getting good marks in physics.

However CMI sounds interesting, hopefully I am not too late to apply for it. Is there a lot of competition in the entrance exam, and is it extremely tough, say tougher than JEE and AIEEE? I was able to attempt the physics sections in those two exams quite decently, although I really struggled in JEE, my AIEEE physics was good. My main problem is applying the concepts I know to those problems, I really haven't solved many quality problems, only those of ISC level, maybe preparing for engineering would have been the smarter step after all.

And what about other science colleges, say, like Loyola in Chennai? It ranks pretty high among the science colleges, those were the type of colleges I had in mind when I initially popped the question of whether the science colleges in India are good enough are not.

Oh, and thanks for the help!

Update : Nope. :( I am too late to apply for CMI.
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  • #4
CMI application deadline has passed, but if you're really interested, I suggest you write to the admissions office to see if they can make an exception for you, especially mention if you have previous achievements in olympiads etc. If (as I guess) you're from around Chennai, you might want to come over and talk to the admissions people. PM me if you need any more details.

I don't know much about Loyola college etc. but as a rule, programs affiliated with major Indian universities (like Anna university) are not-so-good.

Even if you don't end up in a good place, you can rewrite most entrance test next year. I know quite a few people who did not get into a good program after 12th and reapplied (successfully) to IIT's/CMI the next year.
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  • #5
I live in Mumbai, but I am from Tamil Nadu, and I have a whole of bunch of relatives all over the state, especially in Chennai.

I already called them up at CMI, they said no exceptions are possible.

Oh well! How about I do an engineering degree from a decent place, a course such as computer science and engineering, will it include all the physics included in a B.Sc course? If it does, I may then continue on with physics for my further studies.
  • #6
Oh well, I really can't find any college or university of note outside of the major universities that give a physics degree.

Anyway, what is the level of physics taught in computer and electrical engineering? Is everything taught in a B.Sc course also covered in these two courses? If they aren't, how much is actually covered, and would it be possible for me to make up for the rest on my own?

I am really interested in physics, and ultimately want to end up doing something in it or atleast related to it.
Would it be possible for me to shift from engineering to physics for my master's degree?
  • #7
If you go into Engineering and have a keen interest in Physics then take up Electronics or related branches. I have a very keen interest in Physics and went into a B.Tech. in I.T. don't know why. And now after two years of pissing off in my B.Tech. I am finally dropping it and going to do a B.Sc. in Physics and I am really happy.
So if you are going to do a B.Tech. try to see the syllabus before entering it. You can change your field after undergoing a to physics research. You will have to apply for GATE, JEST, and JAM. These exams lead to Physics research in IITs and other premier scientific institutions in India like IISc, IIA, etc. Check up the websites you will come to know of more.
My advice would be to try to get into a good B.Sc. program like the one at CMI and to pursue your passion. But doing a B.Tech. from Electronics and Communications from a good institute would not be very far from a B.Sc. in Physics from an okay institute in India.
Also if you choose to do a B.Tech. degree you might also be interested in taking up a distance learning B.Sc.. IGNOU is a good choice for that
  • #8
Thank you for the reply, that was helpful. I will probably do a BE in Electrical and Electronics, will see into the distance learning B.Sc as well, that avenue of education never occurred to me.

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