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Physics grad school after non-physics undergrad?

  1. Jan 28, 2012 #1
    I have a bachelor's in CS with a math focus (wound up 1 credit short of a math minor). I have been out of college for about six years now and working as a software developer during that time. Off and on since leaving college I have been self-teaching myself physics. Sometimes I daydream of going back for graduate school and getting a masters (or more) in physics. I am particularly fascinated by quantum computers, and my best case scenario is if I could find a graduate program where I could somehow be involved in quantum computer research-- in fact, I'm mostly interested in the idea of grad school because this is how I imagine one would get involved with quantum computing research right now.

    Some questions--

    1. Is this idea-- going for physics graduate school, after a non-physics undergrad degree-- even possible?

    2. If I were to attempt to apply for physics graduate school, what would I need to do or how would I need to prepare for it? (Assume I'm okay with the idea of an answer to this question being something that takes years to implement…)

    3. I have this idea in my head that if I specifically try to focus on quantum computers or the theory of quantum information, that it might make it easier to get into a program without having physics credentials ahead of time because quantum computing exists to an extent at an intersection of fields-- you need to be able to understand not just ideas from physics but also from computational complexity theory or information theory, so I imagine some programs might be amenable to letting in a CS person who can come in saying "I understand complexity theory very well but I need more education on physics". Is this line of thought realistic at all?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2012 #2


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    1) It is possible. Whether or not it's likely is a different matter.
    2) You'd need to convince a selection committee that your education and/or experience is the equivalent of a standard undergraduate physics curriculum.
    3) Not very realistic, in my opinion.
  4. Jan 28, 2012 #3


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Once again, you may want to read this thread:


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