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Careers: Physics/Dropping a Year in Masters due to Illness


Respected sir,

I'm currently undertaking a 5-yr Masters course (2009-14) in Science (Physics), but contracted typhoid in the final few months of my 4th year (2012-13), and so have to repeat the courses during the next semester. This means that effectively I'll be finishing my 4th year this fall, and I am -formally- allowed to commence my 5th year from Aug 2014. The 5th year is slightly different in that it involves no course-work, but only a year-long project taken under some guide, so I'll be getting half a year more to do that (2nd half of 2013-14, and 2014-15).

My question is: what is the viewpoint of various universities and Ph.D programs in regards to such situations? I'm afraid whether an extra year taken will severely dent my application. What is their approach to such cases?

I should mention that my institute will simply mention the repeated courses as normal ones, taken during the fourth year (2012-13), and the fifth year will be indicated across the duration 2014-15 (i.e. no effective record of 2013-14).

Thanks in advance (sorry for the poor English, it was written rather in a hurry),

Dear Prateek:

This should be no problem as it is rather easy to explain in your personal statement and those who write your letters of reference for graduate school should also be able to mention it.  With something like this, repeating a whole semester, it is pretty obvious that something traumatic has happened, particularly if your marks are good otherwise.

Good luck!

Careers: Physics

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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
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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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