Switching from Biology undergrad to Physics grad....

In summary: You may want to look into bridging programs.Admission issues aside...Given that the majority of your graduate classmates will have not only majored in physics, but done exceedingly well in their courses, will you be on equal footing with them? Consider courses covered in physics, math, and programming. What kinds of lab courses have you taken? Are you comfortable with electronics?You won't get credit for studying anything on your own.Will you be able to study something on your own without the pressure of course deadlines? Without feedback from professors, how will you know if you've really understood the material?If you haven't done any research, volunteered in a physics lab, or completed a
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batman123456
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I will try to keep this concise. I have always loved physics, but was convinced by my parents to pursue biology for career in medicine. Over my undergrad, it really became clear to me that I love physics, and want to pursue a career in the field (a Master's, and then a PHD). I am currently in my fifth year of undergrad, I will graduate coming summer (in a year). I have a major in biology (and poli sci as the other major), and my degree is an HBSc (honors bachelors of science).

I thought my hopes for physics were over, but I found a few schools here in Canada (I live in Toronto) such as Toronto Metropolitan university, and York U that accept physics grad students with a background in any science degree, and if we are missing any important component for grad school, we take some "additiional relevant courses". I am going to take a year off after undergrad during which I will study physics on my own.

My question is, is this something do-able or recommended? Do I really stand a chance in grad school physics? What is the best course of action for me?
 
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You could combine the two, career in medicine and physics. For instance medical engineering, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy research
 
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You could also check for graduate programs in biophysics. Don't know about Canadian universities, but in the US there are interdisciplinary programs (offered jointly by physics and biology departments). You enter with an undergrad degree in either physics or biology, and you take appropriate courses to bring you up to snuff in your non-major.
 
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batman123456 said:
I thought my hopes for physics were over, but I found a few schools here in Canada (I live in Toronto) such as Toronto Metropolitan university, and York U that accept physics grad students with a background in any science degree, and if we are missing any important component for grad school, we take some "additiional relevant courses". I am going to take a year off after undergrad during which I will study physics on my own.
<<Emphasis added>> Why do that if you have access to graduate programs specifically designed to accommodate students who were not physics undergrads?
 
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Which physics courses/classes have you taken so far, beyond the freshman-level course that biology majors usually or often have to take?

Also math...
 
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We used to have a sticky that covered physics graduate school for non-physics majors. ZapperZ wrote it, I think. Any idea where it is?

While grad schools may take students whose preparation is deficient, that doesn't mean a) they will, b) they will support the student while the deficiencies are rectified, or c) the degree of deficiency is irrelevant to the acceptance decision. Your individual situation makes a big difference.
 
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Ryerson (aka TMU) only offers MS and PhDs in Biomedical and Medical Physics so you could be potentially be eligible for that with your Biology background if those fields interest you. If you want to go more traditional Physics (AMO, HEP, Astron, Astrophys) you won't get that at Ryerson.

York's program specifically states "Graduates with an honours degree or equivalent in astronomy, physics, or engineering physics" so I don't think you would qualify for that.
 
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Admission issues aside...
  • Given that the majority of your graduate classmates will have not only majored in physics, but done exceedingly well in their courses, will you be on equal footing with them? Consider courses covered in physics, math, and programming. What kinds of lab courses have you taken? Are you comfortable with electronics?
  • Also by "equal footing" will you be competitive in a course that's graded on a relative scale?
  • You won't get credit for studying anything on your own.
  • Will you be able to study something on your own without the pressure of course deadlines? Without feedback from professors, how will you know if you've really understood the material?
  • If you haven't done any research, volunteered in a physics lab, or completed a senior thesis project in physics, how do you know graduate studies in physics is the right direction for you?
 
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batman123456 said:
My question is, is this something do-able or recommended? Do I really stand a chance in grad school physics? What is the best course of action for me?
It really depends on you and your background. It's certainly do-able for some people.

jtbell said:
Which physics courses/classes have you taken so far, beyond the freshman-level course that biology majors usually or often have to take?

Also math...
Most undergrad biology majors I knew avoided anything beyond the absolute minimum when it came to taking math. If that's the case with the OP, it would be, I think, the main impediment to success academically.

Once you have basic calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, and intro physics out of the way, you're supposedly ready for the junior and senior level physics courses which prepare you for physics grad school.

CrysPhys said:
<<Emphasis added>> Why do that if you have access to graduate programs specifically designed to accommodate students who were not physics undergrads?
It might make sense to remedy deficiencies that would keep the OP out of those graduate programs altogether, like not having taken enough math to be able to begin taking the remedial physics courses. I would take any math needed at a school, though, rather than relying on self-study, since the OP will need evidence that he knows the material.
 
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What exactly does 'physics' mean to you? For if it means grandiose stuff like cosmology or QFT, bridge courses or several of those suggested above, like medical physics, etc., might come as a disappointment to you. These are more or less from the applied physics sector.
 
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Well, the OP posted his question and never came back. I think it's fair to say that follow-through is an important part of a physics major and en even more important part of a physics career, but he hasn't demonstrated it here.
 
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Vanadium 50 said:
Well, the OP posted his question and never came back. I think it's fair to say that follow-through is an important part of a physics major and en even more important part of a physics career, but he hasn't demonstrated it here.
Certainly won't endear him to faculty that may need to put themselves out on a limb for him given his unusual status and expectations.
 
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Vanadium 50 said:
Well, the OP posted his question and never came back. I think it's fair to say that follow-through is an important part of a physics major and en even more important part of a physics career, but he hasn't demonstrated it here.
If lack of follow-through is a core shortcoming for the OP, it would be far preferable for the OP to pursue a career in physics than medicine. :wink:
 
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CrysPhys said:
career in physics than medicine.
..., or perhaps a "thinning of the herd" might be desirable for those who do NOT apply caveat emptor when shopping for physicians.
 
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Bystander said:
..., or perhaps a "thinning of the herd" might be desirable for those who do NOT apply caveat emptor when shopping for physicians.
Physics, Medicine. Is the OP confusing physicist and physician?
 
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WWGD said:
Physics, Medicine. Is the OP confusing physicist and physician?
"Physicist, heal thyself."

"The Hippocratic Theory of the Origin of the Universe"
 
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Related to Switching from Biology undergrad to Physics grad....

1. Why would someone switch from a biology undergraduate degree to a physics graduate degree?

There are several reasons why someone may choose to switch from a biology undergraduate degree to a physics graduate degree. Some may have discovered a passion for physics during their undergraduate studies, while others may have realized that their career goals align more with a physics degree. Additionally, some may have found that their skills and strengths are better suited for physics rather than biology.

2. Will I have to start over and take additional courses in order to switch to a physics graduate program?

It depends on the specific program and your previous coursework. Some physics graduate programs may require you to take certain prerequisite courses if your undergraduate degree is not in a related field. However, many programs also offer bridge courses or summer programs to help students catch up on any necessary coursework.

3. Are there any transferable skills or knowledge from a biology undergraduate degree that will be useful in a physics graduate program?

Yes, there are several transferable skills and knowledge that can be applied to a physics graduate program. These may include critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, and laboratory skills. Additionally, some concepts and principles in biology, such as genetics and biochemistry, may have applications in certain areas of physics.

4. Will switching to a physics graduate program limit my career options?

No, switching to a physics graduate program will not necessarily limit your career options. In fact, it may open up new opportunities in fields such as engineering, research, and data science. Many employers value the analytical and technical skills gained through a physics degree, making it a versatile and valuable degree to have.

5. How can I prepare for a physics graduate program if I have a background in biology?

If you have a background in biology, there are several steps you can take to prepare for a physics graduate program. These may include taking relevant math and physics courses, attending seminars or workshops, and gaining research experience. It may also be helpful to speak with current physics graduate students or professors to gain insight into the program and its expectations.

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