How are the apps going?

  • 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.

User avatar
Posts: 1031
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:13 am

Post by quizivex » Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:48 am

What??? Is the deadline 1/8? If so that is incredible.

User avatar
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:08 pm

Post by zxcv » Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:17 am

The deadline was Jan 7 for Berkeley. Since it didn't say otherwise and they wouldn't be able to look at most of my application anyways (I just mailed in my transcript/recs) I figured anytime midnight was okay.

I should be filling out these apps earlier... it's not like I have that much left to write at this point since it's the same recycled essays essentially.

Here's a table of my submission times from the deadline.

45:00 Santa Barbara
18:14 San Diego
03:00 Stanford
02:00 Caltech
01:36 NSF fellowship
00:08 Berkeley

Clearly I was off my game on Dec 15 (UCSB & UCSD)..

I still have Davis and U of Washington. Think I can do better? (I don't think I want to do better --- I know there are advantages to applying early.)

Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:07 pm

Post by hg » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:55 am

I've only applied to Harvard and MIT. I got a response from MIT that my application was complete and would be passed on for review on 12/20, and I sent my Harvard app. on 11/28. Does anyone know if they would look at it before January?

Posts: 482
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 6:30 pm

Post by cancelled20080417 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:59 pm

Why did u apply to two schools only? This is really weird and it does not make any sense to me at all. Did you have some problems with applications in other places? Anyways, good luck.

Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:19 pm

Post by thecup » Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:15 pm


I hope you understand that funding has been very tight overall, and given the recent budgetary cutbacks, funding will be exceptionally tight this year. This will effect all schools, in particular how many students are accepted. Considering the cost of tuition at both MIT and Harvard, plus their higher stipends for students (due to cost of living increase in the city), the pressure to accept fewer students will be greater than, say, a state university. Keep in mind that the total cost of a experimental phd student at, say MIT, is on the order of $500,000 (funded by grants, ie, the taxpayer, theoretical students also tend to cost less). This figure seems very high (honestly, I see no reason why it shouldn't be lower and more in line with say, state schools), but it is a decent rule of thumb.

Consequently, I hope that you either: a) currently attend either university and have a research group firmly lined up and/or b) have another option other than grad school if both options happen not to work out. Given the current state of the sciences, I hope one (or both) accept you, but I would recommend apply to at least one backup school. Best of luck![/i]

User avatar
Posts: 399
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 3:26 pm

Post by will » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:05 am

As much as I don't like it, if you want a tenured professorship at a good school, you need to get your Ph.D. from a top university. Even when you look at the faculty of less-notable schools, you see a whole lot of MIT, a whole lot of Cornell, and here I'm hunting around, but hard pressed to see a lot of Ph.D.s from the "safety school" category on faculty lists...

You can't get a Ph.D. from Harvard after you pick up your Ph.D. from Obscure Public University, and afterwards you'll be hard pressed to get the tenure-track offers that fresh Harvard doctor will get unless you already have a huge body of absolutely brilliant original research.

So I think it's dumb to tell anyone to apply to "backup" schools. No one seriously expects some guarantee of admission into a top-5 school, but if they don't want to go to grad school unless they get into one, that might be a good decision, depending on what you want to do with your life.

Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:25 am

Post by vk5qa » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:17 am

I've noticed that too. But if thats the case, what happens to everyone who goes to a non-top place?

User avatar
Posts: 293
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:05 pm

Post by butsurigakusha » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:41 am

it is true that having a degree from a top-ten school probably makes it easier to get a faculty position, but it is definitely not a requirement. Using gradschoolshopper, I did a quick survey, where I looked at the associate professors and assistant professors at a few good schools. It is true that among full professors, there are a lot more from top schools, so I believe there was a time when having a degree from a top school was a necessity, but I don't think that is necessarily the case any more. Here are the programs I looked at:

University of Maryland–College Park
University of California–Los Angeles
University of California–San Diego
University of Pennsylvania
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Ohio State University
Pennsylvania State University–University Park
Rutgers State University–New Brunswick
Rice University
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
Brown University
Carnegie Mellon University
Duke University

These are all ranked in the top 30 for physics. I found that approximately equal numbers of the associate and assistant professors at these schools got PhDs at non-top-ten physics schools as from top-ten schools.

The top programs also tend to be among the largest in terms of number of students, so that also contributes to them being more common among faculty.

My point is, not getting into a top program isn't the end of the world. True, it may be more difficult to get a faculty position, but from what I've heard, landing an easy faculty position is not a guarantee for anyone, regardless of where they graduate, so anyone getting a PhD in physics better be willing to accept the possibility of a non-academic career.

Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:07 pm

Post by hg » Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:20 am

RG, I was really unsure about applying to the States (I am British), so I didn't really want to apply to a lot of places.

Thanks thecup, I want to do theoretical HEP and I have been shortlisted for a scholarship that will cover me fo the first two years. I'll just have to see how it goes, but I've got some options here in the UK aswell.

Post Reply