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Physics graduate school

  1. Apr 7, 2009 #1
    I'm wondering how difficult it is to gain admission to PhD programs in physics. On Duke's website, they show that the average GPA of admitted students was 3.7 last year. Keeping that in mind, I looked at the NRC rankings in physics, and Duke is ranked like 42.

    At my school, the average GPA of a physics major is like 2.9. Mine is above that, but not by too much. I'd expect this to be similar at other schools.

    Let's say I have 2 years of research and one publication with a 3.2 GPA along with 780+ GRE. Is that competitive a top schools? Judging by Duke's stats, I'm not confident that I can get into any top school. What does everyone think?

    The page from Duke is here: Duke*University*Graduate*School*Admissions*and*Enr ollment*Statistics*(PhD*Only)
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  3. Apr 7, 2009 #2


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    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Apr 7, 2009 #3
    So I'm doomed.
  5. Apr 7, 2009 #4
    You'll have a rather slim selection of grad schools with a 3.2 GPA.
  6. Apr 7, 2009 #5
    You might want to look at these threads on the physics gre forum. They have applicant profiles and admissions results that should be worthwhile for you.



    Admissions to physics grad school is competitive, but you should be able to have your choice of some decent programs if you apply to a diverse spectrum of schools in terms of rankings/competitiveness.

    The grad school shopper site is a great resource in creating such a list.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  7. Apr 8, 2009 #6


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    That assumption is wrong average GPA vary from school to school and varies by as much as 0.6 gpa points
  8. Apr 8, 2009 #7


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    Here's what you may want to consider doing.

    Unless you have a GPA for your physics courses that is considerably higher than your cumulative GPA, then I'd say that Duke is out. What you should do is to consider getting your Masters Degree first, say at schools that offer only a Masters and not a Ph.D degree in physics. Use that program to bolster your GPA and get your M.Sc.

    If you are successful in doing that, then your chances of doing a Ph.D at another school might improve. You may still not be able to get into some of the more high-powered schools, but your M.Sc degree, with a better GPA, will show the admission officer that you have improved and could be a potential candidate.

    The other option is to consider applying to smaller, not well-known schools that offer a physics Ph.D. I'm not saying that these aren't good schools, but because they are not well-known, their pool of applicants may not be as competitive. You still have to pass their qualifier exams, but that's another matter, and that's something you should think about. They may accept you, but you may get stuck with nothing after 2 years if you can't pass the qualifier.

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