About a year ago, I completed my bachelor's degree. Late while pursuing my degree, I took an electromagnetic focused physics survey course and realized I wanted to study physics and apply my programming skill along with it. After completing my degree, I have worked as an Automation Engineer at a semiconductor company programming software that relates to physics (physical vapor deposition(within a vacuum)).

My Question:

My goal is to become a computational physicist. I thought the next step for me to accomplish this was to pursue a master's in physics. I have realized I do not have most of the prerequisite math/physics courses to be accepted into almost any postgrad physics program. What should be my next course of action to become a computational physicist? I am assuming the two main options are to pursue a separate bachelor's in physics or take the required prerequisite math/physics courses(at a community college) and then attempt to be accepted in a postgrad physics program.

Relevant course work and occupation work

Below are the relevant math/physics courses and occupational work that I think(might be wrong) is relevant to becoming a computational physicist.

  1. Calculus 1

  2. Discrete Mathematics

  3. Linear Algebra

  4. Elementary Statistics

  5. General Physics II (Survey of electromagnetic field/thermodynamics/relativity(very brief))

  6. While working at a semiconductor company, used machine learning(binary classification) to create a vibration sensor to determine a machine's state.

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  • I don't understand; you already have a job that involves computation and physics. That makes you a computational physicist. What exactly do you want to change? And what country is this? – Anonymous Physicist Oct 18 at 6:27
  • I would say an MSc or Phd in Physics would be the next step... I have never seen anyone having a problem to do interdisciplinary work with a Comp Sci background. Also, agreeing with previous comment, you seem to already be one. – Greg Oct 18 at 7:19
  • I don't think this is answerable unless you elaborate on what you mean by "become a computational physicist". There is a world of difference between doing some programming that is useful for some physics applications and getting a faculty position in physics. – Szabolcs Oct 18 at 8:29

Reach out to grad programs you're interested in and ask. My advice would be to just complete the prerequisites (at a community college, for example) rather than redoing a whole bachelor's degree.

If you have high grades in your program and applicable work experience, the only pause an admissions committee would have is that you won't do well in the first year physics grad classes without having taken the prerequisites. If you don't have a strong knowledge of calculus and linear algebra, for example, you're being set up to fail your classes no matter how talented, smart, or hardworking you are.

If you don't care about getting a physics PhD, it's possible to get into interdisciplinary research by getting the PhD in a different field and doing the research you want. In that case, select programs with PIs that do the research you want to do. You may get lucky and find something that lines up with your background. My feel is that most computational physicists have a physics PhD, so this latter option is a narrower path.

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