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Reputation of the university for graduate admission?

  1. Aug 26, 2015 #1
    Hi, I'm an undergraduate physics student in Turin (Northern Italy), currently in the first year of my bachelor degree. Before enrolling here in Turin, I thought a lot about going to sudy abroad because I would like to get a job somewhere in Europe or even outside it. But then, for several personal reasons, I decided to do my undergraduate studies here, since it is possible to change university (inside EU) for my master's studies.

    I would really like to get into prestigious universities, such as ETH or Imperial College London, for a MSc degree and I would like to know if it is possible (or even common) to be rejected by those universities just because of the "reputation" of the university of origin (I imply the highest GPA possible). I mean the University of Turin is not at the top of the rankings but it is not the worst either (actually, for what it's worth, it is ranked 100-150) so I wonder if a bachelor degree with the highest mark is enough to get into one of these universites.

    Thanks a lot
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2015 #2
    I tried to write the comment in Italian yesterday night but the mods deleted it, hence I'm rewriting it in English today:
    So, I decided to enroll to Sapienza University directly because I wanted to avoid exactly this problem, and I must be honest, after checking other universities and foreign colleges' courses and tuition fees I think I avoided it completely. I've been thinking of completing the studies directly here in Rome, instead of moving abroad and risk to get in some enormous debt.
    My tip would be to get a good education here and then move abroad, instead of getting an education abroad. There's even the risk that if you find a good work here at home you couldn't get it because the MIUR doesn't recognize that particular degree as the L-30 BSc or the LM-17 MSc.
    About the University, are you in the Politecnico doing Physics Engineering or you're doing classical Physics in the Università di Torino?
  4. Aug 27, 2015 #3
    In general, no. Certainly going to a "brand name" university will simplify things, but even if not, that won't be a reason they reject you. They will probably more carefully scrutinize your application e.g. what courses you took and your grades in individual courses to ensure you have the necessary background prep for their programmes.

    Also it's worth noting that grad admissions at the top tier unis for MSc courses tends to be a lot less competitive than undergrad (and to a degree doctoral) courses. Since they aren't generally funded by the university or government, fewer people have the necessary funds to apply in the first place, and people who did poorly in undergrad are also usually less likely to apply for "more of the same". As such the applicant pool is somewhat self selecting.

    A specific example, the MSc Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces at Imperial College London has something like a 70% admissions rate I think? Whereas the undergrad physics programme is probably less than 10%. The QFFF is also a pretty highly regarded course generally. There may be one or two exceptions (Part III Maths at Cambridge comes to mind), but in general provided you got good (e.g. 2:1 overall and 1st class marks in relevant courses) you will probably have a good chance at getting in. I mean a friend of mine who got a high 2:2 at an upper mid tier uni here in the UK was offered a place on the MSc Civil Engineering at UCL (he declined to stay and do a PhD here anyways though :x ).

    TL;DR there are many more factors they'll consider more important such as references, grades, any academic research work done etc, etc, compared to the "prestige" of your school.
  5. Aug 27, 2015 #4
    Thanks a lot for the answers!

    I’m at the University, not at the Politecnico, since I didn’t like the Engeneering Physics program. I don’t understand what do you mean by “problem”, is it the reputation of the university or the tuition fees abroad?
    I know about the difficulty of getting the degree recognized in Italy, in fact I’m also looking for 120 ECTS programs which may be compared to a Laurea Magistrale.

    Thank you, I did not think about this. I read somewhere that in UK it is not common for BSc/MSci students to apply for a MSc, since it is possible to work or go straight in to a Phd with the first degree, in fact many UK universities don’t even offer a MSc program in physics. Is that true?

    Unfortunately here in Italy the research work as an undergraduate is quite uncommon, but you still write a bachelor thesis (which involves a research project usually), so I’m considering to attend some summer schools. Do you think that summer schools can be helpful as much as research experiences in the curriculum as a factor for the admission?
  6. Aug 27, 2015 #5
    As for problem I mean the extremely high yearly tuition fees and getting your degree recognized here in Italy.
    I also thought of doing my undergrad and grad abroad, but it is really expensive, and there is a clear risk that if I want to get back to Italy in order to study I would end up with one or more exams which probably will not be recognized.
    I mean, after checking here and there I decided to stay here and do everything here, and only then move abroad if necessary, and we have really good physics departments here in Italy, with some getting on the first 25 in the world for the QS ranking by field, and on the first 20 for others. That's really not bad for a public institution here imho
  7. Aug 27, 2015 #6
    It is true that after doing a 4 year combined masters (MSci/MPhys) for their undergraduate you can go directly into a PhD. However most top tier (top 5-10) universities usually won't accept just the BSc except from internal applicants, they usually prefer the prospective PhDs have a Masters to go along with their Bachelors. Elsewhere it varies.

    There are a moderate number of MSc Physics courses; I believe the main "top tier" ones all have one in one form or another (Cambridge has the Part III Maths/Physics/Astrophysics courses available, Oxford has some new course I think, Imperial has QFFF and a bunch of more standard physics masters, plus some specialized ones, UCL has masters in both Physics and Astrophysics which share courses with the other University of London consortium colleges and universities). Generally speaking however the other universities tend to not have them as often. For example Exeter and I think Nottingham don't I believe, although I think Edinburgh and Sheffield do?
  8. Aug 27, 2015 #7
    I checked up Nottingham recently for physics, it has really specific courses since the BSc.
    Specializing directly from the Bachelor might be counterproductive
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