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Some schools/programs to apply to for industry

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:16 pm
by abooboo
Hi all,

I am trying to figure out which graduate schools would be good to apply to if my goal is to land a job in government or industry. I have been searching on sites like gradschool shopper and, but haven't really found a way to decipher which schools have the sort of programs I'm looking for. Although (in the past) I'd be fine just doing physics for physics' sake, after reading some 'horror stories' of PhDs in very abstract areas unable to find suitable employment, I'm interested in learning which areas of research of the most employable.

For the record, I'm a domestic non-minority male. My research is mediocre: 1 summer REU and 1 year of university research, with no publications. My PGRE score will probably be decent: I ranged 690-820 on the practice tests, and I've improved since then. Fortunately, my GPA is practically a 4.0. Based on what I've read, I'm assuming I have no shot at getting into a top school but still have an OK chance at getting into some good schools and a high chance of getting into lower-ranked schools.

I'm interested in doing research in condensed matter (either computational or experimental), but am unsure what sort of research would give me the most employable skills; from what research I have done in condensed matter, I get the feeling it ranges from the very applied to the very theoretical. I've heard that there are jobs for people experienced with thin films, but was wondering if anybody was knowledgeable about which other possibilities there are in condensed matter. I have nothing against more theoretical research, but if I'm going to be working on something for several years, I'd like to be developing employable skills in the meantime since I'm not going into academia.

Finally, are my goals (getting a PhD in physics and working outside academia) reasonable? My fear is spending half a decade or so in school and ending up with a job comparable to what I could get with my bachelor's or with a master's (either in some area of physics or engineering). Also, although condensed matter is my main interest, are there other areas that are in demand? I've heard about medical physics, but that doesn't sound like something I can see myself doing at all.