Physics from an engineering degree

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  • #1
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Hi guys, unfortunately I was denied by the registrar to switch my major from mech. engineering to physics. I still want to be a physicist tho.

Anyone here who have studied physics in grad school with a BSc in engineering? Any advice on what to do to prepare myself for grad school in physics would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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  • #2
I'm also curious about this one. In my mech. program I can only take 2 physics courses, which surely isn't enough for physics grad school (masters not phd). Maybe take a minor in physics during the summer? That's what I am thinking about doing.
 
  • #3
ZapperZ
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It is not unheard off for someone to have a degree in engineering (typically electrical engineering) and then switch over to physics for graduate work. It is a challenge, but not impossible.

However, you must be prepared to (i) do a lot of catching up during your initial years in the graduate program. Your physics preparation may not be adequate (ii) you need to be realistic as to the area of physics you can get up to speed very quickly. Doing theoretical work in, say, elementary particle physics or string theory may not be the best choices. On the other hand, if you have an electrical engineering background, fields like accelerator physics may be a natural fit.

Your first challenge is to get accepted. So you need to consider a good, convincing argument why, someone with your degree, should be considered for a graduate program in physics. It may be that you need to do go to a smaller school and get a Masters Degree in physics first. This not only will provide evidence that you can do physics, but also gives you the ability to take those advanced undergraduate classes that you think you need.

After you're in, then you might want to read this thread that I wrote a while back:

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=64966

Zz.
 
  • #4
Gokul43201
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I went to grad school for physics after getting a degree in materials engineering. Some things you can do to help your application, and your grad school experience:

1. If you have room with electives, take some physics classes (if not, try to audit classes),

2. Look for REUs or other research projects with a Physics group, ideally something that has a connection to your present major,

3. If your program requires an undergraduate thesis, see if you can do something interdisciplinary, with the Physics dept,

4. Do well on the Physics GRE.

Part of the objective with 1, 2, & 3 is to impress faculty in the Physics Dept that will write good reference letters for you when it time for grad school applications.

PS: These suggestions are primarily aimed at someone planning to apply to a Physics program in the US. On re-reading, I see that the OP is probably not in the US. The general ideas in this post still apply, though details may vary by location. It helps us better help you if you provide more detail (present major, location, year in college, extent of preparation in physics, etc.)
 
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  • #5
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Thanks for your replies. Yes, I'm not from the US, I'm from the Philippines. I'm a freshman taking BSc in Mechanical Engineering. Our curriculum is strictly fixed, it doesn't allow students to take any minors nor any other classes that is not included in it, the only physics course we are to take are fundamentals of physics and thermodynamics.
 
  • #6
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You're a freshman and you can't change your major? I suggest you go find whoever made the decision and lay the smack down. If that doesn't work, find someone else who will listen. At least this works in the U.S. I've found that university administration will walk all over you if you let them.
 
  • #7
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I liked physics but I was sort of afraid cause I thought I wouldn't be able to come up with original ideas like Einstein and Newton did so I chose biology. After a year, I changed major into ME. Because biology just doesn't feel the way it did back in HS, it wasnt what I thought it was. I wanted physics but my parents wouldn't let me. In this country pursuing a physics degree is very challenging, both academically(for lack of lab equipments) and financially. Their argument is that a physics degree would take about 8 to 10 yrs while an engineering degree would only take 5, after that you can fly to the middle east and work and get rich, you could not do that with a physics degree (at least that's what they think).

The reason why I decided to go for physics is because I want to learn how the universe works.

But when I requested to change major for the second time, I was denied.
 
  • #8
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Side note: I already spent 1 and a half yrs in college, although technically I'm still a freshman in the college of engineering.
 
  • #9
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You're a freshman and you can't change your major? I suggest you go find whoever made the decision and lay the smack down. If that doesn't work, find someone else who will listen. At least this works in the U.S. I've found that university administration will walk all over you if you let them.
I'm sure he could "change" his major, but in most countries this "change" entails dropping out from your current studies and undertaking new ones from scratch, with counting yourself extremely lucky if you can get credit for one or two courses.
 

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