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I plan to graduate with an honours (four year) degree in philosophy and a general (three year) degree in mathematics. Are there any physics graduate programs that might accept me if I were to apply?

For context: My plan-A is to work in academic philosophy. A physics education might not appear on the resume of most philosophy professors, but I suspect that knowing about physics could improve a philosopher's thinking about a number of questions. Accordingly, it seems worthwhile to study physics during either, a one or two year detour, several years of concurrent distance education, or the summer terms of my philosophy education. Self-study is an option, but I'd prefer to earn a credential in order to improve my future applications to graduate schools and to employers.

marked as duplicate by ff524 Jun 9 '14 at 4:35

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    You haven't said what physics coursework you've completed. – Ben Crowell Jun 7 '14 at 14:46
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    Any physics graduate program accepts math graduates. If you're good enough. – David Ketcheson Jun 7 '14 at 15:37
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    @BenCrowell I won't have finished any physics courses. I've had to fill my curriculum with the requirements for both degrees (the requirements of each of them serve as the electives of each other). – Hal Jun 7 '14 at 15:41
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    I'm not a physicist, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if you have not completed any physics courses at the undergraduate level, you're not prepared for graduate study. – Nate Eldredge Jun 7 '14 at 16:26
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    Anyone who is applying to physics graduate school should try and show real competency in the 4 main upper division classes: Classical Mechanics, Electric and Magnetic Fields, Statistical and Thermal Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics. I am not on an Adcomm, but without a majority of those courses, I would question both ability and motive to succeed in a physics graduate program. – Neo Jun 7 '14 at 19:05
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People are accepted into a physics program because they prove that they can do well in physics graduate school through their past performance in courses, their personal statement, their letters of recommendation, test scores, undergraduate research experience, etc. If you have a strong mathematics background, you might be able to convince an admissions committee to accept you if you demonstrate an understanding of undergraduate physics outside of course work (like performing well on the physics GRE). If you have not, at least self studied undergraduate physics material (at the very least at a Sophomore/Junior level), then it is not likely that you would accepted into a physics graduate program (even a masters program). Now if you were exceptional at math (e.g. have published research in a peer reviewed math journal), perhaps its possible that a physics program would accept you, with a very good personal statement explaining why you want to study physics at the graduate level.

But why get a degree in physics? At least part of the answer should be that you enjoy doing physics and are (at least somewhat) good at doing physics. If you aren't 100% certain that you love physics, you shouldn't go to graduate school in physics. Instead, self study physics by reading a book, doing problems and watching online lectures. Once you can determine whether you enjoy doing physics, only then should you go to graduate school in the subject.

In addition you haven't explained why "knowing about physics could improve a philosopher's thinking about a number of questions". At least at the vaguest level, this could be said about nearly any discipline; it doesn't mean you should get a degree in those fields. You can take physics courses while studying philosophy at many universities. If you think you will derive deep satisfaction from this, you should seek out philosophy programs that allow flexibility in your course work so you can pursue an interest in physics.

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