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I'm a graduate in Civil Engineering from a university in India and I would like to pursue a Ph.D. course in physics in the U.S. My GRE scores are Verbal:156 and Quantitative: 166. My physics GRE score is 860.I have covered all the basic topics recommended for an undergraduate degree in physics. My CGPA is 6.36/10 which is low compared to U.S. standards. I have scored well in physics and physics related subjects in my undergrads. I've also completed a project on quantum entanglements from the Indian Statistical Institute and will secure two excellent recommendations from there.
Also, my engineering was a 4 year course. What colleges should I be applying to? Do you think I have a decent chance of getting in anywhere?

Dear Anirudha:

These questions about chances of getting admitted are very difficult to answer.  Your GRE scores are very good and if you have strong, specific letters of recommendation, you should be able to be admitted to a Ph.D. program.  The 4 year engineering degree is also a plus, even if it is in engineering rather than physics.

I suggest you look at the web site and get some initial information about graduate programs there.  You will want to apply to programs in a broad range which have research activities which match your interests.  You have to remember that even if your application is very strong, you are in competition with many others for the spots in the most selective graduate programs (c.f. USNews top 20) so it is not wise to count on getting into one of those solely.  Find some lower "ranked" programs which you feel you would be happy to join and apply to those as well.

Good Luck!

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Carlo Segre


I can answer most questions about studying physics in college and graduate school; questions about condensed matter physics; x-ray physics; synchrotron radiation; and general and modern physics. I can also answer questions about careers in academia.


Professor of physics for 30 years at Illinois Institute of Technology. Academic adviser for undergraduates and graduate students. I have served on university promotion and tenure committees, search committees for Deans and Department Chairs. I have also been an Associate Department Chair and an Associate Dean. I have 34 years experience in materials science research and I have been responsible for building and now managing a User facility at the Advanced Photon Source.

American Physical Society
Sigma Xi
American Chemical Society
American Associate for the Advancement of Science
International Centre for Diffraction Data (Fellow)
International X-ray Absorption Society

Nature; Physical Review Letters; Physical Review; Applied Physics Letters; Journal of Physical Chemistry; Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials; Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics; Solid State Communications; Physics Letters; Journal of Low Temperature Physics; Journal of Crystal Growth and Design; Physics Letters; Journal of Applied Physics; Journal of Archaeological Science; Physica C; Corrosion Science; Electrochimica Acta; Journal of Nuclear Materials

Ph.D. Physics, 1981 - University of California, San Diego
M.S. Physics, 1977 - University of California, San Diego
B.S. Physics, 1976 - University of illinois, Champaign-Urbana
B.S. Chemistry 1976 - University of illinois, Champaign-Urbana

Awards and Honors
Duchossois Leadership Professor of Physics, IIT Fellow, International Center for Diffraction Data

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