shifting to physics

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:31 am

shifting to physics

Post by esoteric » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:51 am


i have an engineering background. i recently completed my masters in electrical engineering. i have always been interested in theoretical physics. my question is:

is it possible for me to get into physics since both my undergrad and grad studies were in electrical engineering.

any response will be much appreciated.


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Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:35 am

Post by imagine » Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:36 am

Hi all!
I majored in Math and want to get in either Physics or Engineering grad school too. But I haven't got any experience in either!

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Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:21 am

Post by marten » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:21 am

Heh, I'm in a similar situation. I minored in math and physics, but got my bachelor's degree in Engineering. Now I'm shooting for physics graduate schools.

I've emailed the admissions departments of several schools, asking them basically the same question. (I don't have an undergrad in physics, do I still have a chance?) Schools have different specific requirements listed on their web pages, some say: "A degree in physics is required" others add the words "A degree in physics or closely related field". Every personal response that I've gotten has encouraged me to apply anyway, one was even willing to look at the specific classes that I took to try and better evaluate my preparation.

So yes, I believe that it is possible, especially since you already have a masters, that certainly can't hurt.

But that's the question that I've been mulling over also, I've finally decided to just shoot for it, I'm taking the physics GRE, and starting the applications.


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Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2006 9:37 pm

Post by hyejjjj » Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:52 pm

Hey guys,

I was also in your position. During my 3rd undergraduate year, I decided to pursue physics. So I got around to taking the physics GRE and applying for admissions my final year. I am happy to tell you that I am starting physics graduate school this fall. The shift is definitely possible! The task of taking the physics GRE, however, becomes a more strenuous one... since you probably didn't take those courses. I spent a summer going through the typical undergraduate books (thorton, griffiths, etc) to learn the topics covered on the exam and did fairly well on the exam (which may be one of the biggest factors that got me in). I also had some previous research experience with an experimental physics group. My recommendations came from a physics professor, the research professor, and an electrical engineering professor.

It was a tough shot... and I applied to many schools (and was accepted to many!)... but ultimately, the admissions committee wants to see that you are capable of doing physics although you may not have majored in the field. Being in an engineering or a math field gives you that qualification. Do well on your GRE's (since you don't have many physics grades to offer) and get good recs (more than he/she did well in my class). Of course, some schools will be stricter on this issue of physics major than others. However, a lot of schools are moving towards an "interdisciplinary" field where they try to work with other fields to make progress. So in some cases, it might be a plus that you are from a different field.

Anyway, I hope that helped. Good luck!

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