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Careers: Physics/applying for phd


I am a final year MSc physics student from India. I have chosen Astroparticle physics as my specialisation. I am interested to pursue Phd from Europe or US, but I am not able to shortlist the universities to which i must apply. Please tell me how can I shortlist the universities so that I can apply at the earliest. Also I would like to know what current research is being done in the field of astrophysics.

with regards

Dear Madhurima:

This is a vast question which I will not even attempt to answer for two reasons.  

1. I am not in this field and I do not know the strengths of various departments in all fields of physics.

2. You have to really go through the steps to determine your preferred universities yourself.  No one can tell you where the "best" places to apply are.

That being said, I CAN give you some guidance on how to start doing the necessary research.

Since you know your field of interest, start looking at the papers published in the field and begin to familiarize yourself where the faculty who do this kind of research are located.  Astroparticle physics is a subfield of a larger field (or more correctly two of them) so you need to find the practitioners first.

At the same time, you can start looking for universities in the U.S. in a more generic way.  The site which compiles the results of the national research council survey of 2007 may be a good place to start ( ).  This site allows you to select criteria for your graduate school preference and see the best fits to those criteria.  This will give you a place to start looking.  Then you need to go to the department web pages and start finding the faculty who would be of interest to you.

A couple of generic issues, to finish my answer

1. The application deadlines are usually in December or early January.  You definitely have plenty of time to do your research, no need to rush.

2. In physics it is not always the best idea to go into a graduate program with preconceived ideas of what filed you are interested in.  Try to have a bit of an open mind about what you might end up doing since you might find that the professor you are interested in doe snot have funding or is not interested in you as a student.  By being rigid in your interests, you are going to inevitably limit yourself.

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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