Sunday, February 12, 2006

How To Get in to Harvard's Physics Graduate School

If you think you might want to be a physicist, you'll need a postgraduate degree of some sort. Harvard offers one of the best, but this how to can be easily modified to the institution of your choice.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 4-6 years

Here's How:

1. Develop a love for physics. Although physics is not infinitely difficult, it can be challenging and the study can be unpleasant. Unless you love it, you will probably fail.

2. Go to any school you like for your undergraduate degree. Ideally, you should major in physics, but an applied mathematics, engineering or physical chemistry degree with lots of physics will normally give you sufficient background.

3. Get good grades and get to know your professors. What ever grad school you apply to, you'll need a good transcript and a good set of references.

4. If you get the chance, take part in any research you can as an undergraduate. This looks very good on applicatons.

5. About one year before you graduate, write to Harvard asking for a graduate school application package.

6. Check that Harvard has professors that are strong in areas you are interested in - but remember that interests can change, so you should be aiming for a larger faculty if possible

7. Also, apply to ETS to take both the general and the physics subject GRE. Remember to tell them to send your results straight to Harvard and any other schools you've applied to.

8. If you've been accepted, Harvard will invite you over on the spring for their recruiting session. I urge you to go - check out the Boston climate, meet the people who will be there with you and the professors.

9. If you decide to accept, sign the forms and get ready to move over.


  1. Most US graduate schools require GRE results. Some don't - you should check. If you are looking outside the US, systems are different, and the GRE is often not required.
  2. If you are on the British system (like the UK and AUstralia, for example) you will normally need an honours level degree as US institutions usually only take in people with four years (or equivalent) study.

What You Need:

  • Desire

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