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Theoretical Physics: Choosing a Grad degree

  1. Feb 9, 2014 #1
    Hey guys, I'm new here! I will soon transfer to a 4 year Uni to get an undergraduate in Physics which is simple enough. Where I need advice is the Doctoral and Graduate degrees. I want to work in Theoretical Physics but I understand there are specific specializations you have to choose according to this article:

    "Theoretical physicists usually start out with a bachelor's degree in physics. Many take classes in theoretical physics along with foundation-building classes in math and generic physics. Students then go on to obtain master's and doctorate degrees in physics. In Einstein's time, theoretical physicists could study many different branches of physics. Today, because physics is much more complex, theoretical physicists need to specialize in one particular branch, such as elemental physics, quantum physics or astrophysics." - http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/theoretical-physicist-do-3284.html

    Say I was looking to research String Theory, which graduate degree would I take? Feel free for long explanatory responses, because this is my career and I would like to know as much as possible! Thanks :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2014 #2
    When choosing a graduate school, you look for research that interests you. So if you wanted to work in string theory, you would look for a school that has faculty doing research in string theory.
  4. Feb 9, 2014 #3

    Meir Achuz

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    Concentrate on doing well in your UG courses. How well you do will determine what you are suited for in grad school.
  5. Feb 9, 2014 #4
    Thanks for the replies! I want to work on the theoretical side, but what I am mainly asking is thoughts on choosing the specific degree I would major in.
  6. Feb 9, 2014 #5
    Actually scratch that. When I am getting the undergrad in Physics, will I be doing enough broad research and classes to help decide what field I want to go in? Right now I'm thinking Particle or Astro
  7. Feb 9, 2014 #6


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    That's supposed to be the idea during an undergraduate degree. In your third and fourth year you should be taking a few "intro to [sub-specialty]" courses, do a thesis project, get a summer job as a research assistant, and reading as much as you can about what interests you to help you make this kind of decision. And don't forget to weigh in some practical realities either. The number of people who end up actually becoming professors who work in string theory is very small - as in you may have a better shot at becoming an astronaut.
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