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Physics Graduate School

  1. Sep 2, 2015 #1
    Hello all, I am currently an undergraduate studying chemistry with a question regarding physics graduate school. I know many threads have been started on whether or not one can get into a physics grad program and I have come to the conclusion that it is possible, so I won't ask that question. My question is, does anyone knows of specific schools that are more accepting of other majors entering their Phd/Masters program in physics? I would assume a school like MIT wouldn't be likely to, because it is difficult to get into even as an accomplished physics major. Unfortunately I am too far along in my chemistry studies to switch to physics at this point, which is why I am asking this question.
    I am definitely not opposed to continuing my studies with chemistry but I do have more of a preference for astrophysics and cosmology, so I know that alone would narrow down the schools due to the fact that each Phd program has different concentrations of study. I do apologize if my question is redundant, so if there are any other threads already with this specific question I would appreciate if someone would post a link. Otherwise I would appreciate any input and answers.

    Thank you all for your time,
    Chris
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2015 #2
    You might want to look at programs which marry Chemistry and Physics like OSU's chemical physics program.

    https://molspect.chemistry.ohio-state.edu/chemphys/

    U Michigan's applied physics program allows its physics majors to do research work in chemistry is another example:

    http://www-applied.physics.lsa.umich.edu/research.html [Broken]

    There'd be plenty of work for someone with a chemistry background for spectroscopy on the astrophysics side of things, radiochemistry is a chemistry heavy area of nuclear physics, materials is a place where chemistry and physics intersect heavily. Chemistry is the physics of atoms and molecules; so I would search which areas of your chemistry background blend with physics. Good luck.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Sep 3, 2015 #3

    radium

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    Are you unable to double major? If you do research in physics and have taken and done well in the most important physics classes you should be fine. Also, a lot of people in applied physics programs were not physics majors in undergrad.
     
  5. Sep 4, 2015 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    That's not how it works. You will need to somehow get the knowledge of a physics undergrad to succeed in graduate school. Taking more chemistry courses doesn't change it. It just delays it.
     
  6. Sep 4, 2015 #5
    I see what you're saying, I think maybe I phrased it wrong. Switching my major or adding a lot of extra physics classes would delay me somewhat, versus just continuing with classes I am supposed to take. I am considering switching my major to physics and using the chemistry classes I've taken to declare a minor in chemistry, but I am not sure yet.
     
  7. Sep 4, 2015 #6
    I could double major and I have thought about doing that or even minoring in physics, but I don't feel the minor goes deep enough in the harder physics classes like quantum. I might just switch my major, even though it will take me somewhat longer to finish my B.S. degree.
     
  8. Sep 4, 2015 #7

    micromass

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    Sure, we get that. But you need certain physics undergrad courses to be able to be succesful in physics grad school.
     
  9. Sep 4, 2015 #8
    Could you perhaps be more specific? The classes I am required to take just for my chem degree is one year of calc based general physics, multivariable calc, linear algebra, and also physical chemistry among many other chemistry classes. What physics classes would you say are absolutely necessary? It would obviously be ideal to take all of the undergrad physics classes to ensure the best possibility for success in a graduate program, but if you say you need certain classes, I would like to know specifically what those certain classes are.
     
  10. Sep 4, 2015 #9

    symbolipoint

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    You must view what you want logically. The goal of graduate degree in Physics will mean that you must earn the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in Physics. Minor or major or double-major chemistry or physics, irrelevant. You need enough course work to show something equivalent to an undergraduate degree for Physics and enough of the supporting Mathematics concepts and skills to support the needed courses of Physics and Chemistry.
     
  11. Sep 4, 2015 #10
    I see, I suppose the best course of action would be to just major in physics. My problem right now is just deciding which course I will decide to take. My ideal end goal would be to end up in research, and if it takes a couple extra years for a physics degree, then so be it, we'll see though. I do appreciate everyone's input and advice.
     
  12. Sep 4, 2015 #11

    symbolipoint

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    Check with the Physics department for the courses to take. Be careful about trying to take just the minimum courses for a degree (in Physics). Trying to do just the minimum courses to qualify for a degree will usually not be enough. Trying for the minimum makes you risk not being as prepared academically as other students/graduates, and being less skilled for possible available industrial jobs.
     
  13. Sep 4, 2015 #12

    jtbell

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    The "core four" courses above the freshman level that physics grad schools generally look for are:
    • Quantum mechanics
    • Classical mechanics
    • Electromagnetism
    • Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics
    Your chemistry curriculum might include "acceptable" substitutes for QM and thermo, but I suspect they're taught differently enough in chemistry versus physics departments that it would be a good idea to take the physics versions if you can.
     
  14. Sep 5, 2015 #13

    symbolipoint

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    This is almost certainly correct. My feeling is that the Chemistry courses will not be adequate replacements for the Physics courses. The Physics content from the Physics courses could, in fact, better inform you concerning understanding those parts of the Chemistry courses.
     
  15. Sep 5, 2015 #14
    Well, from looking at the classes required for the B.S. physics at my school, it looks like it covers the core four very well, the B.A. tract not so well. I am going to talk to a advisor as soon as possible, and see what he/she says.
     
  16. Sep 5, 2015 #15

    symbolipoint

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    Bachelor of ARTS versus SCIENCE, not very useful for deciding which of these to pick. Take the courses which will HELP YOU the most, including the courses required for both Bachelor degree versions, and then elective courses which you believe will be most useful and interesting.
     
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