Programs Wayne State Physics PhD program

  1. Physics_UG

    Physics_UG 289
    Gold Member

    I am applying to Wayne State's physics PhD program. Does anyone know anything about Wayne's physics graduate program? Is it any good? Will I be able to get a tenure track academic job assuming I do a good post-doc?

    I am applying to Wayne because my GRE score is rather low and will keep me out of the more prestigious programs, I believe. Plus, I am not sure how good my letters of recommendation will be. I was already accepted to penn state and arizona state's PhD programs in electrical engineering and I attended ASU for a year. However, I think a physics PhD program is more in line with my interests.

  2. jcsd
  3. Vanadium 50

    Vanadium 50 18,489
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    How do you define "any good"? I've never seen it ranked above 50 or 60. It's certainly not top 30. But when you come out, you can probably work problems out of Jackson.

    That's easy. No.

    A good postdoc won't gurantee you a faculty position no matter where you graduated from. You need a great, stand-up-and-take-notice postdoc.
  4. Physics_UG

    Physics_UG 289
    Gold Member

    ok, well, if I do a "great, stand-up-and-take-notice" postdoc can I get a decent faculty job? I am most interested in teaching at a decent small liberal arts college.

    and I define good as in, will it lead to a great postdoc if I do good work?

    and I know Wayne is ranked about 30th in terms of NSF funding, for what it's worth.
  5. Vanadium 50

    Vanadium 50 18,489
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There are no guarantees of a faculty job. Period. And don't think it's easier to get a job at a small liberal arts college. I was talking to a friend who was at one, and they got something like 400 applications for their last position.

    That's worth nothing. That is a statement about how big the department is more than anything else. Furthermore, physics funding comes from many sources: DoE, NASA, ONR, DARPA, etc. and picking one of them doesn' tell you squat.
  6. Physics_UG

    Physics_UG 289
    Gold Member

  7. Physics_UG

    Physics_UG 289
    Gold Member

    Does anyone else have any opinions?
  8. It's not really a matter of ranking. My grad school isn't ranked in the top 100 (they only graduate a few PhD students a year, and rankings are directly correlated to how many people they graduate) but a lot of recent graduates have gotten faculty jobs and great postdocs. It's more a matter of what you accomplish than where you did it.
  9. Like eri says, it isn't really about ranking. The important thing about PhD programmes is that the university you study at has a good reputation for the field that you work in: not necessarily physics in general. There will be plenty of low-ranked schools have a few great researchers/supervisors - that's what you want to look out for.
  10. You should go into your graduate school program assuming that you will not get a faculty position anywhere. If this is a deal-breaker, then you probably should consider doing something other than a physics Ph.D.

    Faculty positions are extremely random. The trouble is that you have so many good candidates for so few positions, that the differences been someone that gets a job and someone that doesn't is tiny, and a *lot* of it has to do with factors that are out of your control, namely funding and dumb luck.
  11. Have you looked at the AIP Directory of Physics programs to see the details of the program. I do know that prestige in astrophysics does *not* follow branding. For example, University of Hawaii has an visible observational program that's better than MIT, and it's harder to get into that department than it is to get into MIT.

    Particularly with the smaller schools, they are looking for people with an interest in a particular type of physics. I'm applying to this school because I couldn't get into anything better, does not make for a strong application.

    You have to be very careful here. You have to have a *really* good reason why you are switching. If it looks to the admissions committee that you switched because you didn't like electrical engineering, they are going to ask why you are sure that you won't get bored with physics after a year.
  12. That's not going to work. If Wayne thinks that you are doing this, they will likely not admit you. Also, it's *really* tough to transfer after getting a masters in physics. The only situations where I've seen this happen was if you have a professor move between schools and they took their students with them.

    I think you really need to step back and try to figure out what you want to do with your future. If you wait a year to figure out what to do, it's not going to look bad on an application. If you start on a program, and then find that you really, really don't like it, it's going to be hard to switch.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  13. Also, at the Ph.D. level, you will be "branded" as your advisers student. No one much knows or really cares what school you went to, but what people really care about is who your adviser was.

    Something else is that once you get into graduate school, you will get yourself in a field of research in which everyone knows everyone else.
  14. I think this is really good advice and didn't really realize how true this was until I started my PhD in engineering.

    In my opinion, stop caring about the ranking of the university. Figure out what it is you want to spend the rest of your education working on and then find a professor reputable in that area. And then where ever that advisor(s) is, you should aim for that uni.
  15. Physics_UG

    Physics_UG 289
    Gold Member

    Honestly, I DID just get bored of EE. I'd rather be doing basic research rather than applied research.
  16. And that's a big, big problem. Suppose, I'm on the admissions committee, and I find out that you really got bored of applied research, how do I know that after a year of basic research you won't get bored of that?
  17. Wayne State actually has a surprisingly strong research presence in nuclear-particle for the detector programs at places like CERN. Once you are in some of those big collaborations/projects, what school you went to matters much less than the actual work you do, as long as you are looking to stay in the field.

    But as stated above the best course of action to take is to assume you won't land a big-university faculty position, and proceed from there.
  18. Physics_UG

    Physics_UG 289
    Gold Member

    How do you suppose I mitigate this then?
  19. Physics_UG

    Physics_UG 289
    Gold Member

    I will likely be doing condensed matter physics...not particle physics.

    And I just want a faculty position...not necessarily at a big university. I'd b happy with a position at a small liberal arts college.
  20. The first step is to make sure that you actually won't be bored and leave after a year.

    Once you've managed to convince yourself that you won't be bored, then you can explain those reasons to someone else.
  21. The thing that will kill your application is that if you treat either Wayne State University or a SLAC position as an "also-ran" then they are going to just reject it.

    Let me ask you a question......

    Suppose I bring up a crystal ball, and I tell you that there is *ZERO* chance of you getting a faculty position anywhere. What's your reaction?

    If knowing that you have no chance at all of getting a faculty position makes you reconsider whether or not to do a Ph.D., then I'd very strongly recommend that you don't do a Ph.D.

    Grad school is such a massive commitment that you need to get the Ph.D. for the sake of getting the Ph.D. and not for career reasons.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?