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Physics Undergrad to Material Science & Engin. Grad

  1. May 26, 2014 #1
    I'm an upcoming senior at a small, private college that has a good reputation for science. My major is in physics with a minor in mathematics, but I originally was in biochemistry. My freshman year didn't go so well (2.6 GPA), and I ended up switching to physics my sophomore year. I have a low GPA (3.0) overall, but my physics GPA is a 3.4 and my science GPA is a 3.3.

    I plan on applying to PhD graduate programs in Materials Science and Engineering for computational research in biomaterials (though, I'm also considering doing experimental research as well). I did an REU program last summer in this area, and loved it. This summer, I am doing research at my home institution with the chemistry department. This is also computational research with biological applications and it involves a lot of quantum mechanics. I was rejected to all REUs I applied to this year.

    In addition to the physics courses required by my major, I have also taken or will be taking a semester of Organic Chemistry and lab (I dropped Ochem II my second semester freshman year), a semester of Biology and lab, Human Biology, Inorganic Chemistry and lab, Computer Science I (intro to Java), C++, and Biophysical Chemistry. Because I switched majors and because some of our courses are only offered every other year, I am taking Engineering Mechanics: Statics and Dynamics instead of Classical Mechanics next year.

    I also have leadership experience (VP of SPS, President of Women in Physics for two years, President/Captain of Women's Rugby). I've done outreach in local elementary schools, doing mini labs and demos with 4th graders. I have great letters of rec, and I'm taking the GREs this summer, so I don't have those scores. Oh, and I'm also a TA for intro physics labs and tutor calculus I and II.

    Now, here are my questions.

    From what I've heard, applying to Engineering programs is a lot different than applying to Physics programs. Will it be harder for me to get accepted into a MatSE program because I don't have an Engineering degree?

    If I am rejected from a school's PhD program, will they automatically consider me for their Masters program?

    How do I go about emailing professors as potential advisors? Is it acceptable to just email them? What about graduate students? I hear it's good to talk to them to see what working for a certain professor is like, but how do I do that without seeming creepy? Also, do I mention professors in my Personal Statement or do I just talk about the area I want to do research in?

    Is there any benefit in taking the subject GREs? All of the programs I've looked at don't require it, since MatSE is "interdisciplinary".
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2014 #2
    What about Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering programs? I decided to look into those as well.
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