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Programs Physics PhD programme in the states, what Universities to go for

  1. Sep 11, 2010 #1
    I would like some advise about what universities to apply to in the states for PhD programmes in physics. In particular what level of university (as defined by school rankings etc). I've been told that the high end universities can be overly stressful and that they foster a highly competitive approach to study. Can you do an enjoyable PhD in a high end University? Or are you committing to being worked to the bone. I expect that a lot will depend on the university, supervisor and project.
    To give you all a bit of background, I am Irish and have a first class honors degree in Physics and have yet to do my GRE's. All recommendations are welcome from any level and I would greatly appreciate any words of wisdom from people with experience. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2010 #2
    At most graduate schools, the first year (or two) is pretty intense no matter where you go because you are usually taking a full load classes on top of being a TA or an RA. Once you are finished taking classes, you will still be pretty busy with research but you will not have the same workload as you did before.

    As you mentioned in your post, who you want as an adviser will largely determine how hard you need to work. If your adviser is very selective about who he/she takes on as a student, then you will have to work harder to make yourself stand out.

    I just started graduate school at a university ranked in the top 15 but not in the top 10 and the overall atmosphere of the department is not cutthroat competitive. I don't have the sense that I have to be better than everyone else in order to succeed in graduate school.

    Hope this helps!
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