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Ph.D. admission in Europe with average grades, no recommendations

  1. Aug 21, 2013 #1
    I am a second year M.Sc. Physics student in an Indian university, I am highly motivated to pursue a carrier in theoretical high energy physics. I am willing to get a Ph.D. from a European university(as they have 3 year Ph.D. programs, unlike a 5 year program here in India and US). But the problem is that due to some reasons(some medical & some family problems), I am not able to secure very good grades, so I won't be able to get any recommendations from the profs(as they wont recommend an average student). Also, because I am not among the top 15-20% students of my class, I won't be eligible to write a masters thesis so wont get any research experience...

    I don't think it can get more worse, as these things(a good score, recommendations & masters thesis) are necessary for admission to some good universities and institutes in Europe. I don't see any hope.

    I wan't to ask if there is some way to prove my worth to these institutes/universities without the above three requirements?:confused:
    Like some sort of an enterance exam(like gre) or interview or something else...

    Thanks in advance for any help...:frown:
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2013 #2


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    No master thesis = no M.Sc. or something else?
    What about a M.Sc. in Europe?
  4. Aug 22, 2013 #3
    sorry i didn't get u?
  5. Aug 22, 2013 #4
    he meant that why are you not considering doing another Master's degree in europe?

    Edit: Off -topic: LOL at the tags: "without good grades" I think there should be a thread for below average physicists like that, count me in :biggrin: .
  6. Aug 23, 2013 #5
    doing another m.sc. in europe will take another two years, then a ph.d. will take about three years, it will take some 5 years in total...
    i can write gre & do a ph.d. in US in five years, but i dont want to spend 5 years on phd, whatever they teach during the first two years of course work, i've done in m.sc.
    thats why i want to go to europe, it will save 2 years(which are very important to me)...
    isn't there some test like gre for european universties???
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  7. Aug 23, 2013 #6

    thanks a lot Raioneru

    Edit: Off -topic: There might be a lot of reasons for bad grades. And bad grades does not always imply a below average physicist. Now you've felt the need, then you should start that thread ASAP.
  8. Aug 23, 2013 #7


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    It is important to realize that completing a PhD quickly should not be a goal in itself. In many countries a PhD takes 5 years (and that is if you already have an MSc), and for good reasons.
    I don't know anyone who thinks that the system here in the UK where a PhD is supposed to take 3 years is good, there is simply not enough time to do high-quality research; which in turn means that british PhD students are less competitive when it comes to looking for international post-doc positions.
    Note also a lot of British PhD students do end up spending 4 years on their project, simply to be able to get some publishable results; although this is not quite as common as it used to be because of stricter EPSRC rules.
  9. Aug 23, 2013 #8
    In these countries, do they have have, like 2 years of course work + 3 years of research work?
    or 5 years of direct research work(no course work).
  10. Aug 23, 2013 #9


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    It varies. For my PhD (5 years in Sweden) I did a total of about 6 months of courses; but that was because I had done some of the obligatory PhD courses as part of my MSc; otherwise it would have been 1 year.
    I was also a TA, which (in theory) was about 20% of my time.

    Note, however, that even though I had teaching, courses etc I still had 5 years. Since the coursework and teaching was spread out over that time this still meant that started doing research on day one and then did a course now and then (and even then it usually did not take that much time, a few hours per week). It is also important to realize that "teaching 20% of the time" means 20% of normal 40 hour week (i.e. one day), most PhD students (including me) work more than that so the actual fraction of time I spent on teaching was quite a bit lower than 20%.

    Anyway, the point is that I was much better prepared for my post-doc than someone who has done a 3 year PhD in the UK.
    I've worked in the London for the past 8 years, and I supervise PhD student,so I believe I am able to compare the two systems.
  11. Aug 23, 2013 #10
    so basically, you're looking for a PhD program where you can get admitted without letters of recommendation, and research experience. I wouldn't worry about the grades that much because you can't do much to change them at this point. did you consider finding a job?
  12. Aug 24, 2013 #11
    no letters of recommendation, and no research experience...
    i still have a year to improve the grades to 70%.
    i may get a very good gre score.
    what are my chances?
    where(the best place with these stats) can get at the most?
  13. Aug 24, 2013 #12
    I would be interested in having those information too.
    I think most PhD programs I have seen require 1 to 3 letters of recommendation, it's mandatory and I don't see how it can be avoided. If you get a job, get something which is related to high energy physics, or just get anything physics related. It may not be what you want, it may take you one or two more years (my sister worked 3 years before applying to grad school, because of average grades) but this is one way you can make up for your grades. once you're out of school, and you start working your grades don't matter as much as they do right now.
    If you get a Job, try to connect with your supervisor (also do a good it helps lol), have a good relationship so that after a while he/she knows where you coming from and what you need (i.e. a good letter of recommendation) when the time comes.
  14. Aug 24, 2013 #13
    I need a job. That will get me research experience, recommendation and it will cover for my bad grades.
  15. Aug 24, 2013 #14
    There is another thing. I can do independent research. Its theoretical physics and i don't need any apparatus to do it. If I do some independent research(working with some prof unofficially) during my M.Sc., can this work be considered as(or instead of) a masters thesis?
  16. Aug 24, 2013 #15
    whats the real difference between a Msc thesis and independent research?
  17. Aug 24, 2013 #16
    In my department only top 20% of the students in a class get a chance to work on a topic with a prof and submit a masters thesis(official), it is worth 4 credits out of total 20 credits for the whole semester.
    Rest 80% of the class attends laboratories for those 4 credits.
    Now, by independent I meant, I'd work on some topic during that semester, I'd request a prof for little guidance. But I won't have an official supervisor to guide me. Also I may not submit the thesis to the department.
    I hope I don't confuse you.
  18. Aug 26, 2013 #17
    My first post here on PF! You should really try to get into contact with some Indian professors and ask for availability of a project with them. I think you can easily find at least one professor to work with. That's what I did and it worked..
  19. Aug 26, 2013 #18


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    MSc courses in the UK are one year in duration. Frankly, with no research experience and no recommendation letters, you will not be accepted into a PhD program.
  20. Aug 26, 2013 #19
    MSc in the UK is 1 year.
  21. Aug 27, 2013 #20
    I think doing the unofficial research is worth the hassle if it's quality.
    Doesn't matter if it's official or not, if you feel like you've done a very good job (and if your professor also think so) and that it can't hurt your admission file, put it in there.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
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