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Careers: Physics/Astrophysics and nuclear physics


QUESTION: Sir, I want to pursue my higher studies in astrophysics or in nuclear physics.Can you give me some clear ideas about the two field and colleges offering the courses in India or in other countries?

ANSWER: Hi Praveen:

You need to provide me with a bit more information.  Are you a High School student or a College student?  If the latter, what is your major?  If the former, then you can study physics as an undergraduate and move into either of the fields for graduate school.  If you want to specialize at this level you will need a graduate degree although there are Bachelor's programs in Astrophysics.

As for colleges, i cannot really help you to find schools in India as I am not completely familiar with them although I do know that the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru now has an excellent undergraduate program.

For colleges in the U.S. there are many which have quite fine physics degrees for undergraduates.  In fact, it is not all that important what university you attend for an undergraduate physics degree as the curricula are more or less the same.

If you are interested in graduate programs, then you need to find the universities which have both your interests, choose a few of them, and apply.

If you give me a few more specifics, I might be able to help more.

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

QUESTION: Thank you.Sir,now I am studying 12std in India.How can I apply to US universities for the courses and to which colleges? Tell me a clear idea about job/scope of the two fields?

Hi Praveen:

I suggest that you start by studying Physics as an undergraduate in India and find a university that has a 4-year Bachelor's degree or take a 3-year degree plus a Masters degree in physics then apply for a Ph.D. in the U.S.  This is probably the way to work in the two fields you mention.

There are really no positions for someone with a Bachelors degree in either of these areas.

The key to getting into a strong graduate program in the U.S. with funding is to have really strong grades in your undergraduate program and to have a lot of research experience.

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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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