I am an electrical engineering (communications) undergraduate student. But my main interest is physics ( and/or CS, esp. it's common fields with physics - but it doesn't affect my question here ), and I want to pursue my graduate studies in physics or computer science. However for application, as an engineering student I'm at a disadvantage as

  • I think my major is not considered rigorous enough by people in those fields
  • I don't have much (official) coursework in those fields, although I have studied (and am studying) even more than is expected from physics majors
  • because of the time I've put in studying ( and more importantly, exploring different areas of) physics and computer science, my GPA so far is not good in electrical engineering.

So with these circumstances, I think the best or maybe the only way is to continue my studies in physics (and/or related areas) more seriously to do more rather good quality research projects and this way, show my ability and qualification for graduate studies in physics (and/or CS).

But, doing so I'll need more time for these additional studies and projects, and I think I have to stay one year more at undergraduate school (5 years). Is this considered a negative point in application for graduate school?

2 Answers 2



Nobody cares how long you took to graduate. There is no advantage to graduating early, and there is no disadvantage to graduating late. It is extremely common for students to take more than four years to get an undergraduate degree, especially if they change majors, as you are effectively doing.


I think there are a lot of students who spend an extra year as an undergraduate, and I know of a number of very good students who have done so, and will almost certainly get into very good graduate programs.

However, that said, I think the value of the extra year as an undergraduate depends largely on what you spend that year doing:

  • Will you be taking classes that will help your application to a physics program?
  • How much research will you be doing, and how will it help your application? (Is it physics-related, or EE-related?)
  • How strong is your GPA in your physics classes? (This won't make up for a weak GPA in EE classes, but it can at least partially mitigate it.)
  • How much will it cost you to spend an extra year before starting graduate school?

As for rigor, I don't think there's as much stigma as you might think. There's far more overlap between fields now than there used to be, and engineers do things that used to be primarily in the province of physics, chemistry, and even mathematics.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .