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Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student intere

  1. May 31, 2010 #1

    Simfish

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    Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student interest? (especially among strong students?)

    I'm especially interested about astrophysics. Does computational astrophysics have high demand among strong students? What about astrobiology?

    The reason I'm asking this, of course, is because these fields are probably less competitive (and I have very broad interests so I think I'd find interest in a lot of things). Also, professors would probably treat their grad students better in those fields. I would think that fields that aren't very financially lucrative (in the industrial sector) would be some of them. But also fields that aren't "sexy" or that don't fulfill some existential purpose (e.g. astrobiology or possibly neural physics)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2010 #2
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    As a rule of thumb the more you can read about it in popular science literature the harder it will be to do a career on it. Also no physics is financially lucruative enough to gather that crowd, those people picked another path long before that, instead the brighterst goes on to the "interesting" fields while those who fails at that go on to the industrial ones where the jobs are plenty. What is easy are those fields that don't got as much hype but which are still very vital for industry, solid state physics is a really big field which is extremely vital and it lacks that science fiction hype so I would estimate that something like that is what you would want to do.
     
  4. May 31, 2010 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    I'm not trying to pick a fight here, but I find this attitude entirely condescending and unfortunately, very common.
     
  5. May 31, 2010 #4
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    I wouldn't say only the brightest go into the 'interesting' fields, as i think all of physics is interesting, and whether something is interesting or not is entirely down to each individual.

    But I would say that there is a higher percentage of the 'brighter' students in the more high profile fields.

    Jim
     
  6. May 31, 2010 #5
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    You can do certain types of physics research in industry too.
     
  7. May 31, 2010 #6
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    I understand you, I don't hold that opinion at all but it was a very simplified model, let me try to put it this way then, the bright distribute fairly evenly, then the rest go where they can get jobs. There are a lot more jobs in subjects like solid state physics than in astrophysics so if we go by this model the competition would be softer there since the strong students are not a majority.

    The main point I try to get across is mostly that a field like astrophysics is certainly not the field with the least competition, instead he should try to go for the fields with industrial applications since there is where the money lies and thus the jobs.
     
  8. May 31, 2010 #7
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    Theoretical physics??
     
  9. May 31, 2010 #8

    Simfish

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    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    Thanks for all the replies, everyone. I was actually more interested in, say, the fields in grad school with the least competition for grad students (or highest demand to supply ratios). Maybe fields like solid state physics have comparatively low high-profile recognition and comparatively high industry demand, but do they also have comparatively high demand among professors looking for grad students? I would think that fields with considerable industrial demand would also have higher supply within grad students, as many aspiring PhD students are open to doing industry after PhD
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  10. May 31, 2010 #9
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    Competition is a relative concept in physics. If you are much better than most of your colleagues, then you won't face much competition. The fact that others are competing with each other is then irrelevant for you.
     
  11. Jun 1, 2010 #10
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    I'm sure you know this is a pretty terrible way to choose what to study at grad school. Also, very rarely will you find people pursuing a PhD in something that they plan to take further in industry. A PhD is a huge commitment and people that have done their research will know that, for the most part, having a PhD isn't a big advantage in industry positions. At least in Europe, where I have my experience, having a PhD has meant only a ~£500 start salary increase above that of a fresh-from-university graduate.

    Otherwise, for physics students, if you are looking for something where there are quite a lot of positions and, in my opinion, not enough applicants, you could look at something cross-disciplinary. Fields like bioengineering and medical applications of physics recruit from many graduate pools, but I think that it's mostly left-field enough that if the university doesn't happen to offer a medical physics course, not a lot of people will apply. Bioengineering is a very large field and is crying out for the skills that physicists can bring. Mechanical and electrical engineers are also prime for positions in this but I feel that, for the projects they are qualified to do, physicists have the edge seeing as a physics degree essentially teaches you a little bit about everything.
     
  12. Jun 1, 2010 #11
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    I think there are surely fields of physics actually more "hot" than others, at least for a certain period. Besides, scientific panorama you see from your university (college??) could be limited by the interests of your teacher or the specific scientific activity of your university. So, you should take a look to high-impact scientific reviews, such as Nature or Science, in order to see what is going on in science and best tune your interests.

    Ll.
     
  13. Jun 3, 2010 #12
    Re: Which fields of physics have relatively high demand and relatively low student in

    MRI physics, plasma physics & fusion science (give it 10 years)
     
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