I recently finished my Bachelor's in Physics, graduating this past May. I have always had grad school as a goal. Currently, I am looking to do a Master's program and then hopefully move on to a PhD program. Considering my GPA, test scores (GRE / PGRE), and research experience are not exactly competitive, I would not likely be able to start immediately in a PhD program.

As I mentioned, I am not currently enrolled in a graduate program. I am looking to work some to help pay for school. But I was wondering if it would be at all possible to participate in some Physics research at a local university. I am absolutely willing to do unpaid work if necessary. Is it possible for someone who is not currently enrolled in a university to do this?

  • How many years did it take to finish your bachelor's degree? 3 or 4?
    – Neuchâtel
    Sep 26, 2022 at 23:45
  • 5. I transferred from another university and some of the credits didn't transfer. I also wanted to do a very specific area of emphasis (Required at my university) and the department only offered the required courses every other year. Failing Calc 2 once also did not help. Sep 26, 2022 at 23:48
  • Where are you from, which subfield of physics, and how much/what kind of research experience do you have? The culture of the location may have an impact (and may limit any unpaid experience with non-students to prevent exploitation). The field of physics is also important since you only have a bachelors, for example it may be harder to do meaningful research in string theory than in quantum computing. The amount of experience in research that you have is also important for if you can perform any amount of useful research, anyone you've also done research under is a good first point of contact Sep 27, 2022 at 8:09
  • Again, what country are you living/working/studying in? A US answer might be very different from some other places.
    – Buffy
    Sep 27, 2022 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


Assuming physics research operates like most research programs, the answer is Definitely, especially if you're not trying to get paid to do it, or at least not trying to make a living wage.

You could work in researchers labs as an RA. Find a university in the town you're living in and ask them if they have any positions available for RAs who want to get experience they can use to apply to graduate school.

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