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What does it take to get into a physics grad school, and get a job

  1. Mar 17, 2008 #1
    alright so this board has had a number of threads about people not getting into grad school or not being able to find a job etc.

    what were the experiences of those of you who found jobs and did get into grad school? what level of school did you go to? what was your gpa?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2008 #2
    ~2.5GPA in undergrad. Applied and got accepted to a small school with a Masters program and paid for myself. Graduated there with a ~3.5 GPA and got a job with the federal government (US).
  4. Mar 19, 2008 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    3.2 (I think) in undergrad, turned down by 30+ grad schools, accepted to a public university with tuition assistance (TA). Graduated there (PhD), rejected by 10+ post-doc/government labs, picked up a Air Force contractor job, from there got sent up to a NASA contractor, now a junior (non-tenure track) faculty member in a medical school. Currently trying to hop aboard the tenure-track train.

    Message: looking for a job/grad school sucks, it's a constant river of rejection. But so is a lot of life.
  5. Mar 19, 2008 #4
    3.5 Undergrad gpa at a good state school with 3 years of research experience.

    Accepted to both grad schools I applied to- was funded under a competitive national fellowship for my final 3 years of grad school (that means I didn't have to TA!)

    I defend my dissertation in mid April and have a government Post-doc set up starting this summer. Every post-doc I applied to that I did not have a contact for I was rejected from. I received offers for 2 post-docs with groups that I had strong research ties to.

    Getting a job is all about who you know- doesn't matter what you do for a living. Whether it is high level physics research or working construction, your professional contacts are worth gold.
  6. Mar 19, 2008 #5
    Undergrad at a STEM-oriented university, GPA of 3.2, three summers research experience. Got accepted into the only grad school I applied to with a fully-funded Research Assistantship, and now a NASA fellowship. Current grad GPA is a 3.9. We'll see how the job search goes after I get my Ph.D.

    Edited to add:

    I completely agree!
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
  7. Mar 19, 2008 #6
    So, if your physics gpa is 3.0+ you have a reasonable chance of getting into a decent grad school?
  8. Mar 19, 2008 #7
    Just for the record, getting into grad school and getting a job are VERY different endeavors, with very different supply/demand issues. I don't really get not getting into grad school; there's tremendous demand for grad students. On the other hand, there is not sufficient demand to put all those students to work once they graduate.

    Plan well.
  9. Mar 19, 2008 #8
    This is a very wise warning! Professors will always need cheap research monkeys to do their work... remember as a grad student you get paid a very petty wage compared to an adjunct who would do your job if you were not there. My brother would make more working his summer job at the mill than I would all year long- teaching kids just like him everyday...

    If you are already in grad school- ask the hiring committee how many applications they would typically receive for an assistant professor (tenure track) position... it is an eye opening answer.
  10. Mar 19, 2008 #9
    yeah hence why I opened the thread, to show exactly what it takes to be success full in getting into a grad school and getting jobs. I'd be very interested in hearing what path people here followed in order to get a job at a national lab or a tenure track position at a mid-tier university or better
  11. Mar 20, 2008 #10
    Probably; there's someone desperate enough to take almost any student.

    However, if you are applying to a more competitive program, remember this: No one is admitting you into grad school to take classes. They're admitting you to be a teaching or research assistant. Having a 3.0gpa is probably a bare minimum, but it just gets your app looked at. After that, you need to be able to do the jobs they assign you. Teaching and lab experience have tremendous value to them.
  12. Mar 20, 2008 #11
    Exactly. Admitting grad students is almost more about hiring teaching and research assistants than admitting students. The criteria vary as a result, and if you come strongly recommended with experience in these areas it will do a lot to help make up for deficiencies elsewhere.
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