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Undergraduate Re-do?

  1. May 7, 2012 #1
    I am about to graduate from college majoring in chemistry with a few minors (Math, Physics and Biology). I was a physics major, but due to some medical issues, I got an F in one of the required physics classes and subsequently had to drop it as a major. This issue was depression, and it took a very long time to find the correct medication regime. I understand the stigma associated with depression, and what most people think of those that have it, but that aside, I am only asking if this is feasible.

    I was wondering if it is possible to, given that I have done much of the work already (Despite that one F, I completed all the other required classes), go to a different (or the same one) undergraduate institution and get the degree in physics? Would I have to redo the entire degree, core requirements and all? Would it depend on the institution? (This has been a recent development and I have not yet looked deeply into it)

    Also, if I did chose to then get a PhD in physics, would I be too 'old' to get into entry-level jobs...anywhere (I am assuming that, with the F, academics is strictly out of the question) I am 23 now, I have a fairly low paying job for the next year, and no distant future plans, at least not anymore.

    On a slightly different note, would it be possible/feasible to apply to MS programs in physics (without a physics degree and the bad grade in a physics course), as another option?

    Any advice on this is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Most colleges and universities have a minimum requirement of classes taken at that university to get a degree from them. It's usually about two years.
  4. May 7, 2012 #3


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    Is it not possible to retake the class you failed and record a better grade to get the physics major?

    Alternatively, if you have successfully completed your major in chemistry, you can apply to physics grad school programs. You'll probably have to do pretty well on the physics GRE, and it helps if you've had research experience, but it's not anywhere near being impossible. Whether or not you want to do a full Ph.D. is, of course, up to you, and will depend on whether or not you think your depression might hinder your ability to do research. However, if you get in to a good grad school and do excellent research, I would be quite surprised if anyone cared about an F in undergrad. They will be more interested in your ability to do research than your grades from ages ago. So, an academic career is not necessarily closed to you; however, academic careers are notoriously hard to get, so you should carefully consider it and how the stress of pursuing such a career might affect your depression. I say this not to discourage you, but to make you aware that while an academic career may not be out of the question, it may not be something you ultimately want to pursue.
  5. May 7, 2012 #4
    Mute, it is possible to retake the classes, but this is my fifth year and it is becoming quite the monetary burden. Also, I am unsure if the class will be offered at all next year.

    I am confident I can do reasonably well on the physics GRE, I did fairly well on the regular ones (790 math and 750 reading - though I have to retake them since I believe they are valid for only 3 years, also, that was the old GRE). Yes, I know the difficulty levels of these two tests are worlds apart, but I do tend to test well...when I am functioning normally that is :)

    I do have research experience and, before the depression hit full swing, I was good at what I was doing. We did not get a publication, but we applied for a patent and are waiting for the outcome of that. I worked in a lab (3 different ones to get varied experience) during the summers.

    I do understand the strenuous nature of a career in academics, always applying for grants, always trying to publish, teaching, etc... I do think that, even with my issues, I can deal with it now that I am on a regime that works.

    Thank you for your response. Of course I am still doubtful, but it seems there is hope.
  6. May 7, 2012 #5


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    Sorry to hear about your troubles, Chinnu, and I'm glad to hear you got it under control.

    Here's a thread that has some really good information about pursuing physics grad school without a physics degree:


    Good luck!
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