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Transition to Physics

  1. Jun 21, 2015 #1

    Newbie here.

    I guess I am a bit of a late developer. Whereas I often meet physics majors who wish to move to the world of finance and make big bucks, I am quite the opposite. I have an MS in Finance, work in banking, but have always gravitated towards the technological side of things. Working with technology you can't help but to become interested in the fundamental building blocks and to contemplate the possibilities. Hence I'd like to move to physics.

    So my question is: How should I approach this?

    * I probably wouldn't be able to become a full time student again - married with bonds et al. So what are the best options in terms of part time studying. Also, I did my MS part time and it was quite a tough trail, not ever having contact time with lecturers, tutors or other students. Are there part time/distance learning programs where you have more/some of the perks of the 'traditional' education process?

    * The last time I formally studied natural sciences was in high school. Should I start fresh with a bachelors degree, or could I conceivably start at graduate level?

    * Am I perhaps mistaken, wanting to take the degree route? Should I rather study physics informally by utilizing various open resources and then try my hand at writing a paper when I feel up to it?

    * Regarding open sources: I am finding it difficult to navigate open sources from introductory to advanced content. Any help in better utilization of open sources would be greatly appreciated!

    Special thanks to anyone willing to reply!

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 21, 2015 #2


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    One cannot start a graduate program in physics unless they have an undergraduate degree in physics, or in a field very closely related to physics. It's also not too conceivable to get a physics education from open sources such as you suggest. A real physics education requires a lot of structure.

    Becoming a part time student and taking just a couple classes at a time is definitely a possibility.
  4. Jun 21, 2015 #3
    There is an easy way to tell this. Take the physics GRE. Here is an older exam: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/undergrad/greStuff/exam_GR9677.pdf

    If you do well (say, >50% percentile), then you are ready for grad school.
  5. Jun 21, 2015 #4
    Thanks both for the advice!
  6. Jun 21, 2015 #5


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    To add a bit more, starting down this path in an unconventional way is not that uncommon. Speaking to my own path, I'm a high school dropout that started at a community college at age 25. I'm currently spending my summer in an internship at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory working on the NuMI neutrino beamline and the MiniBooNE experiment. This fall I'm transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has one of the best physics programs in the world. It's definitely possible to start later in life and still succeed in this field.
  7. Jun 21, 2015 #6
    Thanks mate - that's inspiring.
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