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Physics undergrad versus the world

  1. Nov 3, 2011 #1
    Hey everyone, I'm new here on this forum. At the moment I'm studying in 2nd year in physics but I'm also looking towards the future pretty seriously. My family and I are not really in a financial position to do much in line with further eduction past my undergrad. I was however looking at a post-grad computer science conversion course.

    Now, I do have a keen interest in the worlds of quantum and astrophysics and though it would be fantastic to pursue a career in them I don't think it can be considered realistic without more focused further education on such topics.

    I would have a interest in going into something like games development. I think it's a career that can really allow ones creative side to flow, you're limited only by your skill and imagination.
    I know myself however that this is a pretty coveted and hence job-limited industry.

    I could see myself working in IT but I am not really sure about what it entails other than coding. Who wouldn't want to have a chance at working for google or microsoft!

    I have genuine ethusiasm and passion for anything I can find any interest in but at this moment I really am lost. I would certainly consider venturing into the job market but physics being the vague degree it is I would even know what kind of job to look for.
    I was hoping some of you people out in the real world could shed some little bit of light. Any advice or opinions would be treasured. I just don't know what I'm going to do with myself.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2011 #2
    Just so you know, it's not difficult to get paid for most physics graduate school work. Although, you may know this. Try doing some searching and see if you could get one of these positions.
  4. Nov 3, 2011 #3
    Are you in the US? Here PhD programs in Physics are fully subsidized - your tuition and fees will be fully waived and you will be given a "salary" which is designed to cover all your living expenses - usually its around $20,000/yr (also some very nice but competitive external fellowships exist which pay ~30k/year). Get some research experience by working with a professor at your school and doing a summer REU or internship to figure out whether a research career in physics or related field is a good fit.
  5. Nov 4, 2011 #4
    Thanks guys, I guess I have been looking in the wrong places. I'm from and studying in Ireland at the moment.

    I was surprised to hear that it is not difficult to get some income from grad school work. When you say this do you mean, say, tutorials and teaching assistance?
    I'm sorry to be asking like this.
    Maybe you could suggest a few places I would be better off finding information?
    I really apprciate this help, thank you.

    I don't suppose that offer extends to non-nationals, FactorsOf2!
  6. Nov 4, 2011 #5
    Yes, definitely. At most reputable programs in the U.S. if they admit you they will fully fund you (tuition + stipend). At most places graduate students act as teaching assistants (grading papers or running lab classes) for a semester or two while they are taking classes and researching, but that is the extent of "working" for your funding (unless you count research).

    The caveat for you is that it is _much_ harder to gain admission as an international applicant - so start making yourself an ideal applicant :) Another possibility is paying to put yourself through a one-year Masters degree (in Physics, in the US) and then applying to PhD programs. That way will have grades from a US institution and a reference or two from US professors.
  7. Nov 4, 2011 #6
    Look into UK universities as well. Since you're from the EU, you will be able to get funding in the UK. I might be wrong though, because I didn't read any further when I concluded that funding for non-EU students was scarce.
  8. Nov 5, 2011 #7
    I did not realise there was that much in the way of opportunities for dealing with fees and expenses related to doing further study.
    I'll certainly be careful not to overly get my hopes up, but if nothing else your aid has left me cheered up!
    I certainly will have a deeper look about in the areas suggested. Obviously my research was not sufficint.
    Thanks for your help and for bearing with me!
  9. Nov 6, 2011 #8
    If you don't mind living in continental europe, most masters degrees in most countries are either free or very cheap, compared to £15000+ in the UK (not sure about ireland). Not sure what you get in the way of living costs though. Many are also taught in english, which is probably fairly important too...

    In the UK you can get funded for a PhD, where you get tuition waived and a living grant from the STFC (grant awarding body). Physics is among the best 'paid' subjects at graduate school.
  10. Nov 6, 2011 #9
    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I have read that in order to get a stipend at an English grad school, you need to have lived there for at least 3 years prior to applying. Unsure if this applies to all of the UK or just universities in England.

    If you don't meet that requirement, the most you can get is a tuition waiver. Being an EU citizen is not enough apparently.
  11. Nov 7, 2011 #10
    Well in Ireland we are incredibly fortunate in that the only fees charged by the university is a registration fee of about €2K the problem is of course the living expenses which we are struggling away with. If I was born in most other countries I wouldn't be as lucky to get to do this much in the way of college! (If you repeat a year fees are charged fully)

    Realistically if I am going to have a chance of doing a phd it would have to be somewhere, where fees are waived and a stipend is offered. I have a sister who will probably be on her way to college in two years (including this, so September 2013) so I absolutely couldn't do anything to get in the way of that.

    We'll see anyway, I'm glad of all of your advice and suggestions, it certainly has given me alot more hope than when I started the thread!
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