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Top graduate school admission.

  1. Apr 30, 2010 #1

    I am an undergraduate currently studying at MIT, and I have read zapper's thread on the path of the academic physicist.

    I was wondering, however, what it REALLY takes to get accepted into a top institution for theoretical physics OR experimental physics. Reference to specific statistics will be helpful (as in, what kind of average GPA did Harvard theoretical physics grad students have?...).

    I am asking this question because I see that while quite a lot of MIT graduates are accepted to top graduate school (the most common acceptances are MIT, Caltech, harvard, Berkeley...), I also heard that getting into a top physics grad school for theoretical physics involves pretty much getting a perfect GPA in math/physics+ stellar recommendations+ research publications/experience. I was wondering, is there such a large gap in difficulty for theoretical physics compared to engineering acceptance? Are the rumors about such difficulty exaggerated? What kind of GPA/qualifications will make you pretty sure you will land at at top grad school? (pretty sure for me is ~70%)

    If someone can illuminate how difficult acceptance to grad school really is, that would be helpful.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 30, 2010 #2


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  4. Apr 30, 2010 #3
    Do a UROP and getting good faculty recommendations. As far as people from MIT go, I didn't notice a huge correlation between GPA and prestige of graduate institution, but there seemed to be a very strong correlation between UROP's and grad school admission. One thing that seriously hurt me when it came down to graduate school admissions (but seriously helped me when it came down to "real life') was the fact that I did my undergraduate research in educational technology.

    One other thing, it's probably better if you don't obsess too much about getting into a big name graduate school. If you do decent work, you'll get in somewhere, and from a "how did my life turn out" one of the better things that happened to be was that I spent some extra time studying thing that didn't have anything to do with physics. On the one hand, I didn't get into my first choice of graduate schools, but on the other hand, I was a lot better prepared for the "real world."

    If you get decent grades, you'll get in somewhere, and as long as you get in somewhere, you'll still be in the game.
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