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Programs What does it take to go from a BS in chemistry to a PhD

  1. Nov 15, 2006 #1
    Hye guys,
    I am a Lebanese student in Beirut .I made my premed in chemistry and earned it in 2004 at AUB (American University of Beirut) which is a very good university, actually the best in Lebanon and tops in Middle East. It is an accredited university as well, the main office being NY state university. Anyways, I did the MCAT(by then i hated both chem and medicine), and due to parents pressure (i know it is a ****ed up mistake) I entered med school .However my real love was physics....and I quit after 2 yrs at Med school.
    Now , I know this is weird however I want to cotinue eventually in theoretical physics BUT I have a BS in chemistry and I do not know how to get that. In my univ they do not give you a secondBS degree, they just put you as a"prospective grad student" until you finish your MS degree in Physics since there is no PhD.This can take up to 4 years.Now I do not know the GPA(78%) but since our grades are usually lower than given in US universities , they are sent with a secret conversion table so they are significantly higher I think in GPA terms.
    Now what i am short of are some junior and all senior courses in Physics and I am sure (humbly enouph) that if I take them i will get an excellent grade on my General and subject GREs.
    I want to pass directly to a Phd degree , and not looses time with a MS.
    I have for that two options either I study these courses on my own and do the GRE (academically I can do that), I want to know if any boydy heard about this ? I mean is it feasible? of course, i am assuming outstanding GREs.Do I have a decent chance with a PhD?
    Or do you think I have to go to a university (besides AUB) and do a BS in physics (count the courses of chem ...) then GRE and PhD?
    In the last case i have the choice of going to Euro univ , canadian univ or American univ continue the BS there , THEN make my GRE. PS: budget is no more than 15000$ ?year and I am an international student.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2006 #2


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    it takes cojones
  4. Nov 15, 2006 #3
    MM..If I were you I would take a look at the University your considering, give them a call/e-mail and find out. It really depends. I too am a physics lover.
    Booo chemistry
  5. Nov 15, 2006 #4
    This is tough. I'm not sure I've seen an application like this during the two-three years I served on grad selection committees.... and probably at least not one that was accepted.

    I'm a bit concerned that you are worried about "losing time." If you are on the career path you want to be on, time shouldn't really matter... unless you're something like 99 or diagnosed with some terminal disease... or with a family and expecting kids. Even then -- I know people with kids making ends meet in grad school. Getting a Masters in Physics, you would have the junior/senior course work in physics, plus two years of grad coursework, right? So you would probably be able to transfer the MS coursework as core courses into a PhD program anyways... and would that be losing time? especially if you are worried about the strength of your application and aren't yet prepared for things like the physics GRE anyways (that many US schools will require)?
  6. Nov 16, 2006 #5
    DON'T get a PhD if...

    you are planning to work in the chemical industry. Only get a PhD in chemistry if you basically want to become a professor. From my experience in industry (I have a BS), it is infinitely easier to find a job with a MS or BS than with a PhD. PhD's are pretty much a dime a dozen these days, companies simply don't want PhD's and have to pay higher salaries for what someone with a BS or MS can do just as well. We only have about 3 PhDs in charge of many BS and MS chemists at our company, all the rest of our PhDs are just temps and will soon be gone. It is pretty much the same story everywhere else. I know some PhDs who have been looking from anywhere from 6months to 2 years for a job without successs. One of our post docs who left after his time was up ended up having to work at a cashier's booth at an amusement park because he couldn't find a job as a PhD in industry. The moral of the story: know what you are getting yourself into before you blindly go after those 3 little letters after your last name.

    If you still want to work in industry, get a master's.
  7. Nov 16, 2006 #6
    graven I couldn't agree more. I have my MS and NEVER had a problem with employment. However I think his question is related to getting a PhD in physics.

    First of all it is very difficult to get a job with a physics degree. I have a BS in physics and wanted to go that route but went to grad school instead because of the employment thing. It is even worst for a PhD because when a company hires a PhD they are looking for very specific skills. I have been apart of companies that hire PhD's and I have never heard "lets hire a good general PhD" It is always about hiring a PhD that has skills in that specific area. They just don't look at it that way. A PhD in physics has got to be way worse. Unless you want to do endless post docs and be a truly world class physicist you might reconsider. There are very few world class physicists!

    Second if you have to go through a MS program you really don't lose that much time. Maybe a few months. At my school if I had stayed on to do my PhD my masters work would have counted toward my PhD. I would have spent a few months writing up thesis but that was about it. I completed all my course work and stuff during my MS. And in fact kept going with my research while I was writing.
  8. Dec 4, 2006 #7
    Hey guys, sorry for the long absence.... anyways i have been studying physics , math and chess (these fenmann lectures are simply extraordinary.especially interesting the thermodynamics argument taken from Carnot to prove the conservation of energy in lecture 4 I think....very nice thought experiment)
    I sent to some universities in Canada (mcgill ,british columbia,Alberta and so on) and all the responses came that i should apply as undergrad special student ... You think the courses in chem would count for me ...
    Anyway an application to AUB prospective grad student remains a sure cautionnary measure i will take any way...
    Right now i will apply to other canadian and US universities, undergrad for that matter (special student) for that matter.
  9. Mar 29, 2007 #8
    hey guys , it is a long absence, however things chasnnged somewhat since three months ago...
    I made a General GRE and I should say i did rather well (1380-650 verbal/730quantitative).
    I applied for Syracuse University and it seems my GPA (slightly less than 3 although our gradinnd system is tougher).and the lack of physics courses for the PhD.
    However , I first had the impression that studying what remains of physics on my own and doing the GRE PHYSICS and having an excellent grade will compensate fully this.
    This is what a professor told me that GRE subject grades are much more imprtant generally for admission in US universities than GPA. On the other hand i spotted on a harvard physics society website the claim that a bad GRE physics will surely decrease your chances in entering Grad school, but that a good grade won't increase it ... how much of this is true?

    Another point of interest to me before I study physics for the Nov or Dec GRE , is that i saw that the questions in the GRE booklets availabe are more conceptual ,and rather SAT II like than testing with open ended problems. What do you thin about this?

    The central question here is Does a TOP GRE subject grade compensate a mediocre GPA and absent physics coursestaking into account diverse grading systems..)? Does a good GRE physics grade says that a student can enter now a graduate program in physics since he cannot get an excellent grade in Physics GRE unless he has the required knowledge (in my case I study it on my own....)?

    PS: I am applying anyways to AUB as physics prospective graduate student.
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