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Careers: Physics/engineering to physics.


QUESTION: Respected sir,
I'll be doing a four year course in electronics and telecommunication engineering. After that I intend to pursue a career in physics. Since you said that i'll have to study on my own, can you recommend me some good textbooks in physics?(I have resnick Halliday crane volume 1&2 fifth edition).
Also, even if I get a good score in both physics and general GRE, with letters of recommendation, is my chance to get an MS program good enough?
Also, is it impossible to survive a graduate program in physics, because I'm an engineer?

ANSWER: Hi Rohit:

Halliday & Resnick is a good first text but not enough to prepare for the Physics GRE.  Your should study the following (or equivalent) texts

"Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics", Carter
"Modern Physics", Tipler & Llewellyn
"Classical Mechanics", Taylor
"Introduction to Electrodynamics", Griffiths
"Introduction to Quantum Mechanics", Griffiths

If you work through all of these, you should be reasonably well prepared.

If you have good grades, letters of recommendation and a good Physics GRE, you should be able to gain admission to an M.S. program.  No promises on what kind of ranking.  Decisions for graduate school are not just by the numbers.  If you get in, the admissions committee is expecting you to succeed.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Respected sir,
Thank you for the reply. I just wanted to ask, whether there is scholarship of any sorts for graduation program's in physics, based on GRE scores? Also, I did not get the ranking part, sir. Did you mean that I won't get the top tier graduate schools, and that I'll have to settle for the lower ones?

Hi Rohit:

Some universities do have some scholarships for the M.S. in physics but most universities reserve the financial aid for Ph.D. students.  In your case, you might have to self-fund the M.S. degree and then apply for a Ph.D .once you have a track record in the U.S.

The top ranked (whatever that really means) physics Ph.D. programs have many applicants and it is very hard to get in even with top grades and a great GRE score.  M.S. programs are somewhat easier to enter but remember that you are expected to self-fund.



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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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