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Physics from Mechanical Engineering

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 7:14 pm
by andrew1234
This year I'm planning on applying to some number of physics graduate programs, and hopefully set myself on track towards a PHD. I'm having some difficulty determining what "tier" program I should be applying to because I have a somewhat lop-sided application profile. I provided a short outline; I feel that I could easily improve my GRE scores a few points before applications are due, but my lack of relevant research, non-physics undergraduate study, and expected weak recommendation letters may be holding me back significantly. I've seen statistics on average scores or GPAs, but I feel that those alone can't really describe what odds I may have.

Put succinctly, if I was able to push by PGRE score up in the 800s do you think that my application would be taken seriously even with other sections lacking? What might be an example school or two to illustrate what types of programs I might have have some probability of getting into?

Ga Tech: BS Mechanical Engineering (2012), GPA: 3.15 (junior+senior years), 3.78 (sophomore+freshman at Georgia Southern)
Research Experience: Essentially nothing, had a senior project which could loosely qualify as an equivalent
Work Experience: Energy Engineering, Controls Engineering
PhysicsGRE: 760 (64%), MathGRE: 700 (61%), GRE: 164, 155, 3.5

Re: Physics from Mechanical Engineering

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:54 am
by Catria
What do you want out of a physics PhD? (in terms of physical subfield)

Re: Physics from Mechanical Engineering

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 1:03 pm
by danielfaraday
I have a bachelor's in Biomedical Engineering and I got a 750 on my PGRE. I was accepted into a top 20 school to pursue my PhD in Physics. This was probably because I applied for a specialty in biophysics (which I don't plan on pursing, but I thought it would give me the best chance to get into a good school). So, Catria's question is important. If you're looking for a tier with your credentials, I would aim for schools ranked 10-30. It worked out for my engineering background and you might have the same luck as well.

Re: Physics from Mechanical Engineering

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:55 pm
by andrew1234
Thanks for the responses. It's a relief to hear that I may be able to put together a competitive application - I've had a lot of doubts.

I'm actually still a little unsure what program of study I want to apply for. I was thinking of just researching what programs the schools that interest me are receiving funding for and what types of facilities they have access to and considering whether those fields interested me on a case by case basis, although I'm unsure wether it is bad practice to not apply consistently within the same subfield.

There's some discordance between what fields my background sets up for and what fundamentally interests me most. Along with my interest in physics I'm also very interested in mathematics, especially in the direction of algebraic structure, topology, differential forms, etc. If I'm wanting to get into this sort of game then it seems that many of the more applied fields for which my engineering background would be useful lay second hand to the more theory-laden fields, what I imagine to be particle, atomic, condensed matter, etc. I'm still not 100% sure on the details, but I think I'd rather be studying the field I prefer at a slightly worse school than a field doesn't interest me quite as much at a slightly better one.

Re: Physics from Mechanical Engineering

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:33 pm
by andrew1234
Update: I just retook the general GRE at 170Q, 159V, 3.5W. Hopefully that will help out a bit