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Want to go to grad school but for what?

  1. Feb 18, 2009 #1
    there's another topic like this somewhere down there but i'm different, and i didn't want to distract from that guy's question...

    anyway im a fairly good double major physics + math at big football state school. i'm easily top 5% of my physics/math class, first or second in terms of literal grades in all my classes. i had a rough 2 semesters where i got a 3.5 semester gpa so right now i'm sitting at a 3.65 but i'm well on my way to a 15 credit 4.0 this semester so i should be fine in terms of all that...

    i don't have an research or publications but i've applied for reus this summer and hopefully i'll get one, and if not i'll work with someone here.

    i can get good recommendation letters from good researchers who were my professors in my classes.

    etc etc etc.

    but i really don't want to go to grad school for physics. maybe math but if i did i want to study differential geometry and i don't know if i can get into a good place where they study that, not that i wouldn't go to a mediocre one...

    anyway what are some other "vocations" i should look into? could i possibly go into grad school for something completely different? like a foreign language? basically what are my options after i graduate?

    btw i'll be graduating spring 2010 with a double major, math+physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2009 #2
    I believe you could go to grad school for pretty much any science or engineering; however, you may have to take some into courses as you begin. I know some schools will have a quick paced summer group for those without adequate knowledge in the subject matter but have been accepted.
  4. Feb 18, 2009 #3


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    As opposed to other subjects where you would be able to go to a good place where they study it? Is there something you feel that specifically prohibits you from differential geometry as opposed to, say, a subject you aren't doing your major in?
  5. Feb 18, 2009 #4
    One of my old pure math classmates got into a compsci masters program. I don't think he had great programming skills at all, but he liked compsci and thought it was a better career path. And he wasn't a compsci major or minor at my school either, just pure math and jumped into compsci.
  6. Feb 18, 2009 #5
    You need to do your own research to find something you're interested in. I've been trying to convince physics students to go into medical physics. If you've got any interest in biology, it may be well worth a look.
  7. Feb 18, 2009 #6
    meh i guess you caught me, there's other reasons i'm not gung ho about going to grad school for math. one of them being i really don't want to be in the tenure track rat race.
    yea programming/comp sci is always an option but i don't like to program
    moreover medschool is slightly appealing... but i don't have any of my bio requirements fulfilled.

    btw i'm not a petulant child. i just wanted some ideas, so this isn't me saying no to the above ideas, it's me saying i've considered them, still considering them, just want more.
  8. Feb 18, 2009 #7
    Well if you're interested in differential geometry from mathematics and have a double major in math and physics, why not consider geometric mechanics/dynamical systems? A rather nice fusion of concepts from both mathematics and physics.

    As for medical physics. This is not the same as med school (at least in Canada anyway) and for the most part requires not as much biology as you'd think. Also, the biology courses needed are usually included in the program itself slightly modified to deliver the content required for med phys.
  9. Feb 18, 2009 #8
    medical physics seems interesting in the sense that it has the added perk of being a well compensating profession and you still interact with people. i'll research it more.

    to that end though what are some other careers for a person who likes analytical thinking but also likes to interact with people?
  10. Feb 18, 2009 #9
    At this stage, you need to be looking into research opportunities at your home institution or through programs like REU. These experiences will help you get accepted into good graduate programs AND help you figure out what you'd like to do or not do.
  11. Feb 18, 2009 #10
    first i need to figure out what academic discipline i want to do research in...
  12. Feb 18, 2009 #11
    At this point, if you're looking into research at your home institution, think of faculty that you like in each department, and see what opportunities they might have. At your home institution, you might also be able to do something interdisciplinary, or even split your time between two different projects.

    I also think that research in either discipline (math/phys) would still help your applications to grad school, even if you switch fields.
  13. Feb 19, 2009 #12
    Hey ice109,

    You don't necessarily have to program, although of course that is important because you need to be able to implement the algorithm you designed. But there are a lot of fields in computer science that are really cool, even to me. Artificial intelligence will be huge soon and is a budding field, computer vision, computational geometry is also very mathematical. I took a course in computational geometry once and it involved a lot of geometric and topological facts (Jordan Curve Theorem for example). There is an amazing applied math professor at UPenn named Rohert Ghirst, check him out. He works in topological robotics among many other applied math/comp sci/engineering fields. I believe he has a triple appointment in math, applied math and EE.

    I agree, programming can be lame. But at grad school I think they care more about your problem solving ability and ability to design clever algorithms rather than the nuts and bolts of implementing it.

    There are some really diverse math departments out there. If you care about going into industry and getting a job, UPenn has a new applied math department that looks very promising. RIT has a very heavy applied math research department, some schools have professors working on quantum computation (UCSD for example) and Carnegie Mellon is top notch for mathematical finance, optimization and stats.

    Best of luck.
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