I am a 2nd year PhD student in physics. Tenure-track positions are highly competitive and I do not love research enough to pursue it as a life career. Since I like programming and playing with data, I want to have a job as a data scientist after finishing my degree. I read some success stories of people who got degrees in Physics but works as data scientists but the people are from top universities like UC Berkely, Stanford, etc…
So my question is how doable it is for someone who only gets Physics degree from the low-rank university to find a job as a data scientist. What is the plan for the next years when I am still in my PhD program? What should I learn? How should I have real projects and internships to work on? Will working unpaid in a research lab about data analysis in my current university help?

Can I be admitted to graduate school in a different field from my degree? Specific cases include:

  1. If I’ve taken plenty of advanced courses in field X in the process of completing a degree in another field, can I apply to graduate school in X?

  2. What if I haven’t taken many courses in X, but I have acquired a good grasp of X through self-study or working in a related field?

  3. What if I’ve never studied X, but I have done very well in an unrelated field? Could I be admitted to graduate school in X on the basis of general intellectual promise, and then make up the missing background after enrollment?

Note that this question is an attempt to provide a comprehensive answer, to avoid the need for a profusion of field-specific questions on this topic (see the associated meta question). Please feel free to edit the question or answer to improve them.

People obviously change their mind sometimes. So it is possible that someone starts out with a PhD in a certain field, but may want to switch to another field.

I am wondering, is it possible, or generally deemed acceptable, for someone to receive a PhD in a field, let’s say political science, but for the PhD thesis to really not be political science related (e.g. it could instead be a piece of research in economics, or theoretical statistics, without any reference to political science)?

Edit: it seems that it is required to at least relate your PhD to field X. What would one do if one really did not want to relate it to X at all?

I am a Mechanical Engineering major applying for Ph.D. programs in Physics (in the US) who was always interested in Theoretical Physics but chose Mechanical Engineering due to a poor career choice at the time of the selection of undergrad major. Being interested in only theoretical physics, I didn’t care much about perfecting the engineering subjects and this is reflected in my grades. I have very good scores in Physics courses (except for an applied physics course). I am writing my SoP and have gotten advice from a lot of people that I should explain my choice of a different major despite my interest in physics as well as my average grades in engineering subjects. But I am not sure whether plainly telling them that I got viciously lured into engineering by being told “undergraduate physics education in our country is not good and one can easily switch to physics after the undergraduate program if one has done undergraduate studies in engineering” would help. Also, whether plainly telling the truth that I didn’t find engineering interesting and thus, my grades are average would help. It might (wrongly) show that I would not study uninteresting things that are required for some research project.

I have a fair amount of content to write about my interest in Physics, for example, I am pursuing a minor in Physics, I have done a good number of interesting research projects, I have attended some schools on theoretical physics, have taken a graduate course in GR, I have well-identified research interests, etc. etc. Is it required (or helpful) to write about why I chose a different major and why my grades are average in the engineering subjects? If yes then what should be the tone and approach?

Can I be admitted to graduate school in a different field from my degree? Specific cases include:

  1. If I’ve taken plenty of advanced courses in field X in the process of completing a degree in another field, can I apply to graduate school in X?

  2. What if I haven’t taken many courses in X, but I have acquired a good grasp of X through self-study or working in a related field?

  3. What if I’ve never studied X, but I have done very well in an unrelated field? Could I be admitted to graduate school in X on the basis of general intellectual promise, and then make up the missing background after enrollment?

Note that this question is an attempt to provide a comprehensive answer, to avoid the need for a profusion of field-specific questions on this topic (see the associated meta question). Please feel free to edit the question or answer to improve them.

Can I be admitted to graduate school in a different field from my degree? Specific cases include:

  1. If I’ve taken plenty of advanced courses in field X in the process of completing a degree in another field, can I apply to graduate school in X?

  2. What if I haven’t taken many courses in X, but I have acquired a good grasp of X through self-study or working in a related field?

  3. What if I’ve never studied X, but I have done very well in an unrelated field? Could I be admitted to graduate school in X on the basis of general intellectual promise, and then make up the missing background after enrollment?

Note that this question is an attempt to provide a comprehensive answer, to avoid the need for a profusion of field-specific questions on this topic (see the associated meta question). Please feel free to edit the question or answer to improve them.

I’m a Petroleum Engineering graduate.Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of petroleum engineering, I had the chance to study a broad range of subjects. I’ve also done 3 internships in various companies providing Mechanical Engineering solutions. I found myself particular interested in Mechanical Engineering, and now I am looking to pursue MS in mechanical Engineering in the US or UK.

I’ve got good knowledge of fluid mechanics, and I know some basic thermodynamics, instrumentation and control engineering, CAD/CAM and mechanics. How can I assess whether I would be able to grasp the concepts taught in a typical mechanical engineering masters class?

Can I be admitted to graduate school in a different field from my degree? Specific cases include:

  1. If I’ve taken plenty of advanced courses in field X in the process of completing a degree in another field, can I apply to graduate school in X?

  2. What if I haven’t taken many courses in X, but I have acquired a good grasp of X through self-study or working in a related field?

  3. What if I’ve never studied X, but I have done very well in an unrelated field? Could I be admitted to graduate school in X on the basis of general intellectual promise, and then make up the missing background after enrollment?

Note that this question is an attempt to provide a comprehensive answer, to avoid the need for a profusion of field-specific questions on this topic (see the associated meta question). Please feel free to edit the question or answer to improve them.

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Biophysics at a pretty reputed program. I have a background in Physics and made the jump to Biophysics while applying for PhD programs hoping to focus on mathematical modelling. I’m currently working on a side-project that demands significant modelling efforts. However, my current advisers do not have much experience in this field. We naturally do not have any collaborators to provide us with experimental data to help me with the model.

In the process of working on this side project, I’ve been reading a lot of Non Linear Dynamics and am currently taking a course on the same. I’ve noticed that I appreciate these tools (mathematical and algorithmic) used in research more than the questions that my research asks. Lately I’ve been considering pursuing research in Non Linear Dynamics. At the same time I’ve lost interest in my current project mainly because my advisers or lab mates do not have any overlap with my work. There isn’t a potential lab in my program using non linear dynamics in their research, except for a few experimental groups. I have never enjoyed doing experiments in the past and am not keen on joining any of these groups.

I’m considering applying for a Master’s program (and quitting my PhD) with an emphasis on Non Linear Dynamics and Complex Systems to corroborate my knowledge of the field and get a better understanding of the topics I want to pursue in the future. I also hope to improve on my mathematical skills in the process.
The problem is, I’m currently 25. If I do apply for a Master’s program, I’d be starting my PhD by 28 and that would put me well behind my competitors for academic positions in this field in the future.
(i) Do I have a better option to pursue my interests (other than staying in academia in the long run)?

(ii) What are some programs that could help me make such transition?

(iii) Is it too late to make this change?

I knew I that I wanted to get involved in research since my second year as an undergrad.

I contacted a few of the staff whose work I thought was interesting at my institution and managed to acquire experience with two groups at my institution (through summer work), based on what I was interested in at the time.

However, now in my final year I have settled on a topic that is quite different and will have to go somewhere else to undertake a PhD. This topic is experiments with ultra cold atoms in optical lattices. It sort of combines a few different areas of interesting physics.

Is this a viable option to go for? Is it ethical for me to now just go somewhere else, after staff have been kind enough to let me work for them over the summer? Also this topic is quite different to my dissertation topic? Does this mean its not advisable I choose projects of this kind? I think I am for sure interested in this, but I am a little ignorant about this topic.