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Programs PhD in America

  1. May 12, 2010 #1
    Hi, I am currently finishing my third year of a four year Astrophysics degree at The University of Liverpool. I hope to go on and start a PhD the year after I finish my degree. I hope to finish with a high 2.1 or possibly a first.

    I am considering looking to study in the US, I wanted to ask a few basic questions about the practicalities of it...

    How possible is it for me to go to America and study a PhD, what are the general requirements, cost and funding options? Does a PhD in America differ from one in the UK?

    Just any general information which could give me a better idea would be a great help!

    Thanks :-)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2010 #2


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    There's no set length for a PhD program in the US - it takes as long as it takes. Including the masters, 6-7 years for a PhD in physics is common. You will be funded for your degree from the beginning if you get a teaching or research assistantship, and I'd go as far to say don't accept an offer for a PhD that doesn't include full funding (tuition waiver and stipend). General requirements are transcripts, general GRE, physics GRE (even for astronomy or astrophysics), letters of recommendation, and research experience/publications aren't necessarily required but will be expected for most schools.
  4. May 13, 2010 #3
    Thanks for the help, can I clarify a few things?

    At the end of my 4 year course I will have a Masters, will this cut down the length of the PhD, 6 - 7 years seems like quite a while?

    Will funding include any accommodation and living costs and how would you go about getting the funding, is it done through the Universities or do you have to apply somewhere else for that?

    What is a GRE?!

    Finally research experience, what extent do you mean, summer placements? Dissertations during my degree?

    Thanks for the help, sorry if I seem to have a lot of questions!

    Oh also, which Universities would you recommend looking at for a Physics PhD - I am particularly interested in theoretical Cosmology and Particle Physics.
  5. May 13, 2010 #4


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    You may want to start by going through my "So You Want To Be A Physicist" essay. I've devoted several chapters on graduate school applications and funding via TA'ship and RA'ship. I should be generically relevant to an Astrophysics major as well.

  6. May 13, 2010 #5


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    4 year bachelors + masters aren't always accepted in the US as a masters (since ours takes about 6 or more) - expect whatever school you go to to make you redo some or all of the masters coursework. Funding is just a stipend - it's like a salary. Do whatever you want with it - fees, books, housing, food, car, video games, etc. It's common to get the stipend (in return for teaching classes and/or doing research), but there are other sources of funding (many restricted to US citizens however) that pay more than the stipends.

    The GRE is the exam you'd take to apply to any grad school in the US (covers reading, writing, and math skills) and the physics GRE covers undergraduate physics coursework. Research experience is any research you've done - over the summer or during they year - in a lab, or with a professor or researcher. Something original, not coursework.

    I know Maryland (College Park) is good for those subjects. Try seeing where the people writing the papers in the field are working.
  7. May 13, 2010 #6
    Thanks for all the help!

    Suppose I have a lot of thinking to do between now and then! I think everything I wanted to know has been answered!

    Thank you!
  8. May 13, 2010 #7


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    Good luck. :)
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