Applying to American Grad Schools with an Australian Engineering Background

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Applying to American Grad Schools with an Australian Engineering Background

Post by Crawford95 » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:59 pm

Hi all!

I'm an Australian student who has previously completed a Master of Professional Engineering (specialising in Chemical Engineering), however I ended up returning to university (at the University of Western Australia) to complete my Graduate Diploma in Physics. I'm hoping to pursue a PhD in Physics at an American University, but before I get my hopes up, I wanted to check my eligibility to enter the programs.

Would anyone know if I would be able to be accepted with my Masters in Engineering, or should my degree relate to Physics only? (The Grad Dip is to boost my Physics knowledge before going into grad school!) On top of that, is research experience (especially publications) necessary/recommended for applications? I'm currently doing some Summer Research programs in an effort to boost my research experience.

If anyone's got any experience applying from Australia, I'd be interested to hear your experiences with the system.


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Re: Applying to American Grad Schools with an Australian Engineering Background

Post by geekusprimus » Thu Dec 19, 2019 1:44 am

Very nearly every American university will allow you to apply for a physics PhD program without a physics undergrad, but you'll need to otherwise prove that you're up to the challenge. The things that will help the most with that are participating in physics-heavy research (any other research you've done isn't useless, but physics-related research, especially with publications, looks especially good); making sure you've had courses in upper-level undergraduate classical mechanics, thermal physics, E&M, and quantum mechanics; doing well on the physics GRE, which will go a long way toward showing the admissions committee that you're not only willing but able to keep up with the other physics students; and getting solid letters of recommendation from physicists.

Basically, it's possible, and there are a fair number of people who do it, but it will require a little bit of extra work on your part. In order of importance, I'd say it's usually something like recommendations, then research, coursework, and the GRE. Your own statement of purpose is important, too (almost certainly more important than the GRE, and possibly more important than the coursework), but if you can beef up your research credentials and take the necessary coursework (some of which may have been covered by your graduate diploma), writing a good SOP is basically reduced to taking the time to write a quality letter to the admissions committee rather than trying to cover up shortcomings in your admissions profile.

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Re: Applying to American Grad Schools with an Australian Engineering Background

Post by Nishikata » Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:20 am

I think Engineering is still alright. STEM field would be considered a related field in physics.
If you apply with a humanities or fine arts degree that will be a problem :D

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