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Theory undergrad -> experiment graduate

  1. Feb 2, 2010 #1
    This may have been better to ask before I finished my grad school applications, but I think it will still be useful..
    As an undergrad all my research experience has been theoretical/computational related to applied physics,materials, energy..., but in my applications I indicated reasons for wanting to do experimental research in similar areas to the computational experience I had. I didn't extend my math background much beyond the required PDEs, linear algebra, etc, and stuff, too.

    I know we aren't supposed to know exactly what we want to do t this point, but is this type of "switch" common for undergrads entering grad school?
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2010 #2


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    I am not quite sure what you are refering to here.
    Undergrads never (or at least very rarely) do any "real" experiments (lab exercises do not really count in this context), so there is no such things as an "experimental" undergrad.
  4. Feb 3, 2010 #3
    The research experience you've gained is very minimal compared to what you'll actually do at graduate level so the actual material you cover isn't all that important. It's more about getting interested in the subject and if you can pick up some bonus skills along the way, like programming in computational work then great.

    Experimental work is pretty much all computational nowadays, but even then, graduate schools will never consider an undergraduate student as committed to theory or experimental work based on the courses they've done. The most important thing to them is that you can demonstrate ability and the fact that you're actually interested in their subject.
  5. Feb 3, 2010 #4
    Haha...yeah I know that. I'm sure there are plenty of students who do both types of projects. I guess my question was focused towards the types of skills one might be missing out on by not doing a research project in an experimental group.

    Thanks, your reply is the kind of thing I was looking for to get my perspective towards the right track. I think I picked up some misconceptions on other websites.
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