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Research requirements for graduate school admission?

  1. Jun 14, 2010 #1
    I'm currently double majoring in physics and math at a state university and I plan on going to graduate school to pursue astronomy/astrophysics. I've heard that graduate committees value undergraduate research highly in selecting applicants, but I'm unsure of what is expected. My school requires a senior thesis to graduate with a B.S. in physics and has a program whereby taking a few graduate classes as an undergrad you can get an M.S. in one additional year. Is this enough or should I also apply for REU programs and try to get involved with my professors' research? Basically, is volume important or will my B.S. and M.S. theses be sufficient?

    I'd like to learn to speak Spanish while I'm in college and I wouldn't have the time if I had to conduct extra research, but grad school is more important to me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2010 #2


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    If you're getting a masters in one year, you won't be doing a thesis (the classes and thesis together often take students three years to finish a masters). It can be hard to get an REU if you haven't done research at your own school, so you should look into those options first. If you want to go to grad school, research should take priority over non-required classes like languages. You can take those in grad school too.

    If you do get an opportunity to do research, don't treat it like another class - my adviser and I had a few research students last year and they completely blew their chances at a good experience and letter of recommendation by never doing anything at all, even though they kept saying they wanted to go to grad school. Put everything you have into it - and if you can't do that because you're lacking motivation, don't go to grad school.
  4. Jun 24, 2010 #3
    Hi, thanks for the reply. The masters is a two year program and requires either a thesis or a project. They are basically the same thing, except the thesis is for terminal masters students and the project is meant to be continued in the PhD program.

    If I were to take two graduate physics sequences as a senior, I would be able to complete the rest of the classes and the thesis the following year. I would take a 9 credit sequence on electromagnetic theory and a 9 credit sequence on quantum mechanics in my senior year, and the following year take a 9 credit sequence on advance quantum theory and another 12 credits in a subfield (geophysics, radiation physics, optical physics, solid state, etc.) in addition to the thesis project.

    There are other class options, of course, but this is just what I've worked out in my head.
  5. Jun 24, 2010 #4
    The program sounds interesting, hard for sure, good luck. For my senior thesis, although I did it my junior year, I wrote a Theory of Actuality and presented it with the ambition to find the cause of gravity, now I am a senior and I am doing it a second time to produce my full theory on gravity and try my hand at "free" energy. I heard physics jobs are looking for engineering backgrounds, so I am double majoring in physics and engineering.
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