Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Best Years of Your Life?

It may not feel that way when you're embarking on pursuing your Ph.D, but it can be. This is an article from PhysicsWorld that reviews several students in the middle of their Ph.D program in physics. It has several good advices for anyone thinking of pursuing a physics Ph.D, especially if you are in Europe. This should plug some holes in my "So You Want To Be A Physicist" essay that essentially focused mainly on the US Ph.D program. Note the important difference between the US and UK/Europe program:

Having a research topic in mind is absolutely essential when applying for PhD positions in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, since you will usually begin working on your chosen research problem straight away. In the US, however, PhD students spend two years doing coursework and exams in all areas of physics and only then begin proper research.

“Most physics students in the US start their PhDs without a specific research field in mind,” says Jayatilaka. This adds at least an extra year to the process, but it makes the US a good option for those who want to learn a bit more physics before choosing an area to specialize in, or for students who want to undertake a PhD project in an area that they do not have much experience in.


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