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Physics vs Engineering PhD Admissions?

  1. Dec 13, 2016 #1
    I was on the grad cafe looking at admission statistics. It looks like it is much more competitive to get into an engineering PhD program than it is a physics PhD program. Is this true? Most of the GPA's of people who got into the engineering PhD programs had a gpa in the mid to high 3's while I saw several sub 3.0 gpa's being admitted into physics PhD programs (albeit not top ranked ones). I was looking at EE if that helps. Thanks!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2016 #2

    Choppy

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    I think there are too many variables at play to make a broad generalization about which discipline is easier to get into for a PhD.

    • Are you comparing physics undergraduates getting into physics PhD programs against engineering graduates getting into engineering programs or against physics graduates applying for engineering programs?
    • What was your sample size?
    • Can you assume that equal proportions of physics graduates and engineering graduates want to get into PhD programs in the first place? I would guess that more engineers would want to start professional careers right away, while more physics graduates would want to go into PhD programs.
    • Are there equal numbers of PhD positions available between the disciplines?
    • It's very rare for sub 3.0 GPAs to be accepted into physics graduate programs (and probably the same for engineers). While it's not impossible, there's a strong risk that such students will not be successful with their qualifying or candidacy examinations.
     
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