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Programs Physics or math phd with engineering background?

  1. Jun 3, 2006 #1
    Hi, I have a few questions about physics and math graduate school...thank you if you manage to read all this and answer questions...

    I am currently studying for my BS in computer science and engineering at a school highly ranked for its engineering programs (perhaps you can guess which) and I will apply to the MS electrical engineering program at the same school, and I will almost certainly be accepted to that.

    However, I am looking ahead to PhD and I am considering my options, including leaving engineering and entering physics or mathematics, primarily physics.

    My current math background is fairly extensive for an engineer (number theory, LOTS of linear algebra, discrete math and set theory, multivariable calculus, probability+stat) while my physics is limited to two honors physics courses(basic mechanics+thermodynamics, E&M thru nonrelativistic Maxwell's, some special relativity and lagrangian mechanics) though as part of my MS I will take additional courses in Solid State and Quantum Mechanics, in electrical engineering department.

    I am also petitioning to add some graduate coursework in physics to my MS. I anticipate at least one course (1 semester graduate general relativity) to be approved.

    So - am I being realistic? If I perform well on the physics GRE, plus my strong coursework, undergrad research experience(published conference and journal papers) and very high GPA(3.9), can I get into a highly ranked physics PhD program? I know rankings are not important but.. also I have heard that computational experimental physicists are in very hot demand??

    Plus, also how about funding? Due to my GPA and US citizen status I am apparently a very good candidate for research assistantships or even a graduate fellowship in engineering. Am I doomed to be a TA in physics/math?

    Thanks again...any feedback appreciated...
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2006
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  3. Jun 3, 2006 #2

    Dr Transport

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    One of the best experimental physicists I know has a BS in EE and went straight to a PhD in physics. I see no reason why you cannot make the change.
     
  4. Jun 3, 2006 #3
    stefan banach was definitely one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, & he started out an an engineer:

    http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Banach.html
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2006
  5. Jun 3, 2006 #4

    George Jones

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    Paul Dirac (electrical) and Eugene Wigner (chemical) got their first degrees in engineering.
     
  6. Jun 3, 2006 #5

    Gokul43201

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    If you eventually want to do a PhD in Physics (or Math), why would you do an MS in EE ? That will not really be useful, as you'll still have to go through qualifying coursework in your PhD program (ie: your PhD time will not be significantly shorter than if you switched directly after your BS).
     
  7. Jun 3, 2006 #6
    Well, I am certainly interested in what is offered in the MSEE. Also, my funding for my degrees will cover the MS tuition completely, making that degree essentially free (not counting other expenses & fees).

    Plus whatever research I do I would hope would be interdisiplinary and the knowledge from my BS and MS would contribute.
     
  8. Jun 4, 2006 #7
    Even I want to know...how do you prepare yourself for the switch while you are studying for the engineering degree?
     
  9. Jun 4, 2006 #8

    Dr Transport

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    Take a couple of advanced courses in physics as additional courses while completing your degree. The friend of mine that I refered to had a one year course in modern/quantum physics and maybe a semester of advacned lab as an undergrad along with his EE degree. Many physics depeartments will accept graduate students who have other undergrad degrees as long as their are pertainant, i.e. engineering degrees, math degrees, chemistry degrees etc......Yes, you'll have to work harder in some of the courses like statistical physics and mechanics, but many times they will allow you to go abck and take those courses at the advanced undergrad level for at least partial credit towards a masters on your way to a PhD.
     
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