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No-Name MS to Prestigious P.h.D?

  1. Jul 11, 2012 #1
    I am all but committed to an physics MS program at a CSU that does not offer P.h.D.s. I am wondering if it is possible/plausible that, if I do well in this program, I can gain entrance into a top-notch P.h.D program. I have a good connection for research and should be able to write my thesis based on this research, which will be based at a DOE national lab.

    I may decide to go for a P.h.D in a field other than physics, such as oceanography or some other computationally intensive branch of natural science. If I were to pursue oceanography, I would shoot for Scripps.

    Thanks for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2012 #2
    Getting into a top-notch PHD program is (mostly) dependent on research/recommendations. The main disadvantage with going to a no-name school is that the professors who advise you might not be well-known by the top-tier departments you'll be applying to. My advice would be to network really well: try to make your research visible to the departments and maybe try to contact professors so that they recognize your name when it comes through the admissions committees.

    Obviously, you should also try to get perfect grades, perfect GREs, etc. But you know that.
  4. Jul 11, 2012 #3
    That's pretty clear advice, thanks vitamin.

    A problem for me might be that the program I'm going to has basically offered me an open door this Fall without having taken the GRE yet (and I am very late in applying), but I have to take the GRE within the next two weeks. I was told that an "average" score would be fine. Well, I can score an "average" in two weeks, but "perfect" might require more time, and I don't have time. Will a non-excellent score now hurt me when I apply for a PhD in ~three years? I can take it again, but all scores are reported...
  5. Jul 11, 2012 #4
    Luckily for you, the ETS has just changed their policy! You won't have to worry about reporting all scores:
    http://www.ets.org/newsroom/news_releases/gre_scoreselect_option [Broken]

    Actually, it sounds like you're talking about the general GRE since the physics isn't being offered again until October. I don't know how the other fields base their admissions, but for physics the general GRE is a very small factor, they mostly just don't want you to bomb it. Two weeks for studying will suffice (I don't think I started studying until 4-5 days prior).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Jul 11, 2012 #5
    Wow, that's awesome! Thanks vitamin! I'm so new to this - so I send them the scores rather than them inquiring themselves? If I only have to report my best, then this is great news. It does seem that this is what the article implied.

    Great advice, what's your background?
  7. Jul 12, 2012 #6
    I just graduated with a BS and will start a PHD program this fall, so I just went through the applications process last Fall/Winter. It's pretty grueling, especially if you apply to a lot of schools (I applied to 12! which was actually about the amount most of my friends applied to). There are some really good resources for preparation, especially physicsgre.com. My undergrad advisors also had a lot of useful advice. Good luck!
  8. Jul 12, 2012 #7
    That's great! Does this includes the Physics GRE (PGRE) in addition to the normal GRE?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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