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SoP for Theoretical Physics?

  1. Dec 12, 2015 #1
    I have done MSc in Quantum Field Theory and want to apply to the US for graduate studies, i.e. a PhD. Since the country I come from, Theory is not very popular, and research is usually done before PhD and nit before it, I don't have any research experience. I have done a project though, on quantization of non-linear fields by non-perturbative methods. And am currently doing a project on conserved quantities in guage theories and massive gravity.

    Now the problem is I'm clueless about what to write in my SoP. Since I'm required to state my research goals and interests and my ideas for research. I'm interested in Theoretical Physics, mainly in String Theory, Quantum Field Theory and Quantum Gravity. But beyond this, I can't elaborate on what specifically inside these topics would I like to pursue. So the following are my doubts:
    1) How to convince them that I'm prepared for carrying out research? What do I mention?
    2) Why do I need to prepare different SoPs for different institutions and how do I do it? Since my interests will remain unchanged regardless of the institution.
    3) What do I state my research goals or areas of interest as? Because it's not going beyond one line, i.e. a sentence simply stating my areas of interest.
    Anything else? Any other tips? I'm almost desperate. Any help would be highly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2015 #2
    You have a master of science in physics. You have had quite some time to figure out what you like more specifically. If you still don't know right now then that is a problem. So you might not be very prepared to carry out research...

    Yes, that is a problem. You should do extra studying on your own. Read research papers. Then figure out something you enjoy. Right now you're looking for ways to "fake it". That won't be possible.
  4. Dec 14, 2015 #3
    No, I'm not wanting to bluff or fake anything at all. So honestly writing this line only, "I want to pursue further research in Theoretical Physics. Quantum Field Theory, Quantum Gravity and String Theory interest me specially.", will it lessen my chances? This is what I'm planning to write in my SoP.
  5. Dec 14, 2015 #4


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    I don't work in any of those areas, but a statement such as:
    doesn't really tell anyone much of anything.

    That's like me saying I want to pursue further research in medical physics. Okay - sure. The fact that you want to study in a particular area is likely obvious from the fact that you're applying in the first place though.

    In your statement of purpose, you want to answer questions along the lines of:
    • What are the specific problems you're interested in in those areas?
    • Why are you interested in those problems?
    • Why are they important?
    • What approaches have been used to address them up to this point?
    • What new approach are you hoping to use to solve a particular problem?
    • Why do you expect success with this new approach?
    • Is there someone at the school or a group that has used a particular approach to solving a problem that you're interested in that you're hoping to learn?
    • What work, if any, have you already done on this problem?
    I realize that it can be difficult to get specific when you haven't started working on a project yet. But remember no one is necessarily going to hold you to what you say at this point. What they are looking for is that you understand the scope of what you're choosing to do and that you're in a good position to be successful as you take it on.
  6. Dec 15, 2015 #5
    Ok. Thanks a ton.. Ya, you're right, it's difficult to be specific because in my country we have the culture of carrying out research in PhD, and not before it. And there are a very theory people, very few. So it's almost impossible to achieve anything in Theoretical Physics before PhD. But still, I've managed to grab a project, hope it helps.
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