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Physics What happens to physics majors who couldn't make it grad school?

  1. Dec 22, 2011 #1
    Either because they had a bad GPA, little research experience, bad GRE, or a combination of the three? I imagine only a fraction of physics grads end up making it to graduate school, and aside from those who were planning to be high school physics teachers, where do the rest end up? Do most of them end up switching fields due to having no luck in finding employment, which may be due to their low GPA or little to no research experience?
     
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  3. Dec 22, 2011 #2

    e.bar.goum

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    From what I've seen? High paying jobs in defense or finance. Some end up in industry. A small fraction end up as science communicators of some description.
     
  4. Dec 22, 2011 #3
    Those tend to be the types that probably did have good enough credentials (high GPA) to get into graduate school, anyways. I'm asking about those that weren't good enough to make it into graduate school.
     
  5. Dec 22, 2011 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    There seem to be all sorts of unwarranted assumptions in this. One is that the "normal" path for a physics grad is to go to grad school, and those that don't have somehow done something wrong. (And frankly, that's a little offensive - that someone who made a different choice in life couldn't hack it) Another is that a degree in physics is somehow a pre-professional degree like engineering or nursing. It's not - it's an academic discipline. Most people graduating from college end up going into business, and usually not doing exactly what they majored in. Businesses do not hire many historians or poets.

    If you stick "jobs with a physics degree" in Google, you get 15 million hits. In my graduating class we had teachers, scientists, a lawyer, a doctor, a technical writer, salespeople, military officers, a politician, several programmers, a banker, and several others.

    Oh, and like in any other course of study, people who do poorly discover they have fewer options at the end of it than people who do well.
     
  6. Dec 22, 2011 #5

    e.bar.goum

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    Very true. When you consider that a PhD is like an apprenticeship for academia, it makes very little sense that going to grad school is a "default" option, like it appears to be on these boards (perhaps a selection effect?). Indeed, most of the people in my degree aren't planning on becoming academics.
     
  7. Dec 22, 2011 #6

    Engineering is also an academic discipline. A pre-professional degree would be something like pre-med.
     
  8. Dec 22, 2011 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    If you prefer "professional" for engineers (and nurses) because the bachelors is the common terminal degree I am fine with that, but it doesn't change the point.
     
  9. Dec 22, 2011 #8

    lisab

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    There are degrees that prepare students for a very narrowly-defined career path. These degrees include things like Forestry, Accounting, Nursing, Library Science, or Engineering.

    I interpreted what Vanadium said as meaning, a BS in physics is not that kind of degree. Btw, I wish someone has explained that to me when I was deciding what to major in -- it's very, very wise advice.
     
  10. Dec 26, 2011 #9
    All I just wanted to know is what kind of options do physics grads who do not end up going to graduate school have and what kind of industries they usually work in (I've heard engineering does not take well to physics grads).
     
  11. Dec 26, 2011 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    Like I said, if you stick "jobs with a physics degree" in Google, you get 15 million hits.
     
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