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Theoretical Physics Degree

  1. Oct 22, 2008 #1
    Hello All
    i want to study theoretical physics and get a degree and then follow my post graduate studies, but i have to main problems, first is that i can't attend to much because i am working as a full time programmer so i need to find a reputable university that can offer the degree by long distance education -i am Egyptian citizen-, my second problem is that i cant pay so much money
    so please everyone of you help as much as you can since any piece of information can be helpful, please help some one really wants to learn and make physics and research his main career
    many thanks for your interest
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2008 #2

    I'm a bit confused, are you seeking an undergraduate degree in physics, or a PhD? If I'm reading you right, you are first seeking an undergrad education. In American schools there is no distinction between theoretical and experimental physics at the undergrad level. This comes when you get your MS or PhD, and depends on what kind of research you do. So a degree from any university will suffice. Would it be possible for you to attend a university in Egypt?

    As far as distance education goes, I'm not sure that this is possible in physics. Physics is an experimental science, and the freshman and sophomore courses require a lab component. At the upper division undergrad level (i.e. junior and senior year), you'll likely have to take a course which will require a semester-long lab project. And to get into graduate school, it's almost required that you do research with a professor. If you can make it this far, then you won't need to worry about money anymore, since graduate school is free (actually they pay you enough to live on). It seems to me like your first priority should be to get a bachelor's degree in physics.

    You could look for scholarships, and perhaps take out loans to finance this. But I would advise against any distance education program in physics. Distance education is shady enough as it is. I'm not sure an American physics department, or one in Egypt for that matter, would accept a person for graduate study who learned his physics over the Internet.
  4. Oct 26, 2008 #3
    Thanks Arunma for your quick response,
    I want to clarify some points, first of all I already have a bachelor degree in Physics from one of the Egyptian universities, but I have 2 problems with them, first is that my graduation score is pass and they refuse any postgraduate studies for anyone who have less than good, even I tried to seek for additional credit courses from any reputable university to upgrade my score to good, but no way there is no way in Egypt, the second problem is that Egyptian universities are not reputable and creditable worldwide, and I have bad memories with them while I was studying physics, they was focusing on the student ability to retrieve information and not focusing on the understanding of the subject.
    so my target now is to find a university outside to prove my abilities as a physicist
  5. Oct 26, 2008 #4
    one thing i want to add is that by studying theoretical physics, i don't need to do labs -or at least i think so-, all i need is to log in online to listen to a lecture or reading an E-Books or making an assignment and upload it, and finally all i need is travel to the university to exam and the take the degree, or do the exam in Egypt in any authorized university or center -authorized from the distance university- or may i can do the exam in the embassy
  6. Oct 26, 2008 #5
  7. Oct 26, 2008 #6
    Thanks mal4mac for your help, this is a good place to start with, i had searched their website to find an educational partner in Egypt, and i found it, but they don't offer any physics courses:cry:
  8. Oct 26, 2008 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm afraid this sounds tough to me.

    Theoretical physics is a competitive field. Each rung of the ladder has fewer people in it than the one below.

    You say your universities are poor, but your undergraduate performance was such that even they won't accept you for graduate work. If you want to do theoretical physics, you need to go to a well-regarded graduate school, and that applicant pool is made up of people who had good grades at strong schools. This sounds like it will be very difficult to make up the gap in your spare time over the internet.

    You also say you don't need lab work. Nonsense. Lab work is part of undergraduate curricula at strong universities, even for students intending to go into theory. We know what we are talking about - please don't be so quick to dismiss the advice you are getting.

    I think you're going to have to decide how badly you want to do this. You won't become a theoretical physicist by dabbling at it. If this is what you want to do, I think you're going to have to start by getting a solid undergraduate education at a well-regarded school.
  9. Oct 27, 2008 #8
    thx Vanadium 50
    I love physics and math too much and I believe that I can do it, and even since I had left the university I was studying from time to time, reading books all the time, even I did a private work as an instructor for physics and math topics in many different grades and for even for some university course, and I trust myself and my abilities, but my problem that to find a chance to prove that, I know enough in physics not start from scratch, and I will never surrender until I got the chance, even I am trying now to find a work in USA or UK to be able to move there and continue my studies in physics beside my work
  10. Oct 27, 2008 #9
    Hello again IWantToLearn.

    As Vanadium 50 correctly pointed out, lab work is a most important component of an undergraduate education in physics, whether you go into theory or experiment. Remember that physics is ultimately an experimental science. Even theorists need to know how to interpret experimental data. Otherwise they won't know how well experiments agree with their theories. So it's important for you to actually do hands-on lab work in the classroom. You can't ignore the lab component of a physics education anymore than I as an experimentalist can get away without taking my graduate courses. All good physicists have a strong, working knowledge of both theory and experiment, which are equally important to doing good science.

    There may be another option for you. You could apply to an American undergraduate institution, and see how many of your physics credits would transfer over. Then perhaps you could simply complete the last two years of the undergraduate physics program. If you get good grades, you'll most certainly get into a decent graduate school where you can pursue your PhD. I know you don't want to start over. But as you yourself have stated, a degree from an Egyptian university isn't worth much, and even then you didn't get very good grades. So right now your focus should be on showing graduate admissions committees that you have the capability of doing well in graduate school, which means you need to build up a strong academic record. At least this way you won't be starting from scratch, since they should accept at least some of your credits.
  11. Oct 27, 2008 #10
    many thanks arunma
    i am agree with you for the suggestion of the American undergraduate institution, but i still have some problems on that side, which will be like follows
    Is there any American undergraduate institution that can offer long distance learning in Egypt?
    Is the fees is too much?
    Or is there any American undergraduate institution that can give me the opportunity to study in USA with a financial aid,
    i am doing search over the internet now, and for anyone have more information, please don't hesitate to help me
  12. Oct 28, 2008 #11
    In physics? Most likely not. Honestly I would suspect any school that can realistically offer advanced undergraduate physics courses online. Having gone through some sort of physics program yourself, you know that quantum mechanics isn't the sort of thing that you can learn over instant messages. And as I said, long distance education won't give you the laboratory component that you need. Any education that you can get that doesn't involve both lab work and supervised research under a professor will not be sufficient to get you into grad school. Remember, grad school admissions committees are looking for people who've demonstrated that they're capable of doing research. If your undergrad degree didn't require any experimental physics or supervised research, your chances of being accepted to grad school are slim to none. I think it would be a good idea to discard the idea of distance education in physics, because you'd end up wasting your money.

    On a sidenote, be very careful with distance education programs in America, because there are a lot of scams out there. For example, there's a school called "University of Phoenix" which offers high-priced distance education. It's quite popular, I have friends and relatives who have bought into it. The degrees you get are basically worthless, the education is substandard, and most employers throw out resumes that reference these schools.

    Yes it is, but you can usually get scholarships if you demonstate financial need.

    Most schools in America offer financial aid of some sort. My undergrad institution, for example, had an application for financial aid. Usually if you can't afford to go to the school, they'll offer enough financial aid to make it affordable. I would definitely recommend coming here to study instead of distance education. You'll get an infinitely better education, and have a good chance of getting accepted to grad school.
  13. Oct 29, 2008 #12
    Looking at courses available for egypt:


    You can take several physical science & maths courses at level 1, and many computing courses at level 2/3. You may be able to cobble together a 'general science' degree with quite a lot of physics, or at least enough courses so you can skip the first year (maybe even second year) of a UK specialised Physics course.

    Note also: the OU is *not* a scam, it is highly respected, as any Google search on its history will reveal.
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