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Programs Pursuing a Chemistry PhD with a Physics BA

  1. Jul 25, 2011 #1
    I have a BA in physics from a top ten university in the united states and I had an ok GPA and great research experience. Right now I am conducting research at a national lab that is more chemistry/materials science based. I graduated in 2010 so I would be entering a PhD program in the fall of 2012. Although I enjoyed my undergraduate education in physics, I was never completely excited about being a physicist and I am finding myself more excited about physical chemistry/materials science & engineering research (specifically, as applied to renewable energy technologies), since that that is what I am working on right now. Unfortunately, I didnt take any chemistry courses in college. I have a solid understanding of QM and I have picked up a good bit of chemistry from my research.

    My question is this: Is there anyone out there who has an undergraduate degree in physics and has successfully pursued a career in physical chemistry/materials science & engineering/chemical engineering? If you do then any information regarding making that transition would be very helpful.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 25, 2011 #2
    I can't really help you, but I heard a famous scientist (sorry, orgot wo he was) say somewhere that, "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don't undrstand quantum mechnics."
  4. Jul 25, 2011 #3
    yeah that's probably a fair point. The nature of QM is to not know anything for sure anyways :)

    maybe I should say something like "I think I have a useful fundamental conception of how QM works"
  5. Jul 25, 2011 #4
    My main question - does it have to be a chemistry PhD?

    With an undergraduate degree in physics and research experience in physical chemistry/materials science & engineering, I'd think you would be a fairly natural fit for either chemical physics graduate programs and/or applied physics/MSE programs. Given the typical interdisciplinary nature of such programs, you'd be able to select from a spectrum of faculty in various departments, including chemistry. Is there a reason why you're not considering such programs?

    I'm sure that it's not an unprecedented situation - I'm just not personally familiar with one.
  6. Jul 25, 2011 #5
    mike thanks for your reply. I am definitely looking into physical chemistry/ materials science and engineering programs. Right now it seems like the programs I am most interested in are matsci programs with interesting research that incorporates physical chemistry/ applied physics/ and materials science & engineering within the context of renewable energy research. I suppose I was just wondering if anyone had made this transition from physics undergrad to any of these programs to get some info about what it would be like.
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