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Research in grad school

  1. Mar 16, 2013 #1
    I am a recently-graduated physics and math major, looking to go back to grad school after a couple years off. I am having trouble choosing a graduate school to attend, because I am uncertain of my research interests. I took a couple graduate-level classes (QM and Particle Physics), and found these to be the most interesting classes that I took. This does not lead me to conlcude that I should research either of these topics, though, but rather that I am more interested in topics that I study at a graduate level. That being said, how do I go about deciding which area interests me most? I think I would like to go into theoretical particle physics, for example, so I go to the U of Colorado, Boulder Physics page to scan through the various research areas. One professor interests me, so I take a look at his recent publications - maybe I should try to learn more to see if it really does interest me. But the title of the publication is "CKM and Tri-bimaximal MNS Matrices in a SU(5) x(d)T Model." I can't understand the title, so I don't even bother trying to understand the paper itself. Is this normal? Or should I be able to understand that, coming out of undergrad?
    I did do research in undergrad, but it was an experimental cosmology experiment, and I would rather not continue in that.
    Should I read papers in journals, or are they all going to be along that vein?

    Thanks for any advice
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2013 #2
    Of course you can't expect to understand research level physics with your undergrad degree, especially in a (seemingly) technical and highly specialized subfield of theoretical particle physics.
    It seems like a good idea for you is to first get a Master's degree. Do 2 years of specialized study and see if you are still interested afterwards. If so, you can continue to a Ph.D.
    Diving into a 5-year Ph.D. program while being uncertain whether you have the drive for it is a recipie for disaster.
  4. Mar 16, 2013 #3
    Masters program in physics

    I wish that Masters programs were more common in the US. I think this would be a perfect solution to my quandary, though I would still be somewhat at a loss for the field in which I'd apply for a masters.
    Can anyone give me more information on Masters programs in the US? I'd always heard that they were very uncommon, most top schools don't offer such programs, etc. What type of school would offer this?
  5. Mar 18, 2013 #4
    I'm not being rude but let me ask, why do you want a Master's in Physics? It won't really improve your job prospects, it will cost a lot of money (either both in tuition and opportunity cost or just in opportunity cost), and will be very challenging. What are you trying to achieve?
  6. Mar 18, 2013 #5
    No, you're not being rude at all.
    I am interested in learning more about masters programs following a previous recommendation, based on what I said in my original question. I don't feel as though I have seen enough of what the various branches of physics have to offer, yet I need to choose which graduate school to apply to or attend based on my interests. It seems like getting a masters and then getting a Ph.D. would be a possible solution to this. But if you are saying that masters programs are generally unfunded, I should probably try for a Ph.D. program directly, and try to find schoos that have several areas that appeal to me.
  7. Mar 18, 2013 #6
    I've never heard of a physics MS program that gave support. They could be out there. Some MS programs in Engineering give support. Getting into the Ph.D. at a school with a comprehensive program is the best bet if you've got your heart set on physics. Otherwise you could study Engineering if you want something physics-related.
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