Switching from grad quantitative psych to physics: is it possible?

In summary: Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that studies the behavior of matter and energy at the atomic and subatomic level. It is a very mathematical form of physics, and is used to model a wide range of phenomena such as radiation, atoms, and the behavior of electrons. It is also the theory that explains the behavior of light and other electromagnetic waves. Switching to a Physics PhD program would likely focus on doing research in quantum mechanics, as that is what you are an expert in.
  • #1
MountainMan97
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Hi everyone. I'm currently a 3rd year quantitative/mathematical/cognitive psychology graduate student in a PhD program finishing my masters after this semester. In it, I'm using the mathematics of quantum mechanics to model cognitive phenomena. I was accepted into a physics PhD program as an undergraduate, but I chose to attend my current PhD program instead due to life circumstances and stuck with it. Working with all of the physics math and physicists I do, I've realized and decided staunchly that I'm meant to do physics instead.

I did physics, psychology, and philosophy as an undergraduate. I had a second-author publication in physics as an undergraduate in QIS, a 3.34 physics GPA, and a 3.65 cumulative GPA. That's with some other various awards and such. Do you think it's possible to still switch to a physics PhD program? Would I be a more competitive candidate in a masters program? Or will committees think I'm being wishy-washy (which, admittedly, I was in undergrad). But supposing that I could argue a convincing case, would my stats and masters likely end me up in the reject pile?

Thanks so much!
 
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  • #2
If you were admitted to a physics PhD program 3 years ago, I don't see how you would be any worse off because you chose to pursue a PhD in something else in the meantime.
 
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  • #3
I am going to disagree with Choppy.

Here are the horns of the dilemma you are on. If you finish your current PhD, very very few places will admit you to another ones. A PhD is supposed to mean that you are an expert in whatever you say you're an expert in, so why get another one? On the other hand, if you drop out of the program after 3 years, you look, to use your words "wishy washy". The committee will probably use other words, like "likely to bail on us as well" and possibly "perpetual student".

Does your school offer a PhD in physics? If so, does the university confer the degree? i.e. is it "Doctor of Philosophy as Recommended by the Department of Physics" instead of "Doctor of Philosophy in Physics"? If so, the path of least resistance is probably to come up with a thesis topic acceptable to both departments and the appropriate course work and shoot for that.
 
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  • #4
What does "do Physics" mean? I would argue that "applying quantum mechanics to model cognitive phenomena" is doing Physics. If you were to switch to a Physics PhD program what topic would you be wanting to focus on for your thesis instead?
 
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