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PhD in particle physics/ cosmology in US

  1. Jul 12, 2013 #1
    Hello folks, I am from Hong Kong studying in a university in HK, major in Physics. Next year will be my final year of undergrad (3 yr undergrad program) and I am considering applying for graduate schools in the US.

    My major research interests lie on particle physics and particle physics applied to cosmology. (some interest in string theory, but sounds too advanced for me)

    I am now looking for PhD programs offered by US universities which are strong in these areas.

    My GPA is good (4 out of 4.3) and I am now taking a research project on cosmology.
    One shortcoming of mine is that I am expecting a poor performance on GRE verbal, due to the lack of preparation time: I will take GRE general 2 weeks later, while my revision started in June. Probably I will take it again at the end of September. And I am not a native English speaker.

    So can anyone give me some advice on which institutes to apply for?
    I think I am going to apply for 6 institutes: 3 top ones, 2 mid-rank and 1 safe.

    And I also wonder if US institutes generally require a high verbal/ analytical writing score for Physics PhD applicants (non-native English speakers)

    And I also heard that Physics graduate students generally have all their tuition fees, daily expenses and health insurance covered by means of TA/ RAship, studentships...
    So does it mean that money is the thing I don't need to worried about at this stage?

    Thanks in advance for your help :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2013 #2
    gradschoolshopper.com is a good place to get ideas.
  4. Jul 13, 2013 #3
    I believe colleges in the US are not very keen on taking students having a 3 year undergrad degree. They make exceptions if you have done plenty of research or/and had papers published. I would recommend looking at some European universities along with ones in the US, since they follow a similar education pattern (3 year undergrad, 2 year Masters, 3-4 years PhD).
  5. Jul 13, 2013 #4
    Hi. Like someone else said, gradschoolshopper is what you're looking for. Also, although a bit more time consuming, browse through recent journal articles in the subfields you are interested and write down the names and institutions of articles you find interesting, then head over to their department pages.

    I had a senior adviser that did his undergrad in HK and then did phd in the states. Didn't do a MS but I'm not sure if his BS was 4 years or 3 years. Unless you come from certain institutes in India where American schools explicitly require it, an MS is unnecessary (but helpful) since you probably have all the coursework (a list of courses would be helpful).

    If you can afford it, I would add 2-4 more mid-ranks or "safes", but that's just me.

    I think the verbal part of the GRE might be taken into less consideration for non-native English speakers but don't quote me on it. Most schools have a fairly medium-high standard requirement for the IELTS/TOEFL for foreigners so I think they would rely more on what you score there to assess your language skills.
  6. Jul 13, 2013 #5
    First thanks to Sentin3l for providing a nice website for me to look at.

    For dreamLord's comment, I think following the European system we take the same advanced ug math and phys courses like US students do. The transcript will tell. The only disadvantageous is that we have one less year to do undergrad research. But we do manage to take some research projects.
    But I do agree that getting an MPhil/ MSc, though not a requirement, might be a good bridge from ug to PhD: I will apply for local MPhil as well.

    As for Lavabug's comment: I am now looking at some research profiles of phys faculty of a few universities. I am looking at the descriptions of their current research interests. I will take your suggestion of looking at articles on the areas I am interested in and look for the institutes.

    I don't think I can afford to apply for more than 6 institutes: the application fees are high for me. Maybe I will pick 2 top ones, 4 mid-rank /safe.

    Thanks very much for all your help.
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