I have done my bachelors and currently doing masters in pure mathematics. I have done four physics courses during bachelors degree which also includes special relativity. What is the possibility that I may prosper in theoretical physics and earn a PhD in any branch of mathematical physics?

Also, I am going to take the GRE this year but I am little bit confused about choosing subject in subject GRE since scoring in maths is much easier than scoring in physics (if later its possible to change departments then of course I'll choose maths). Any suggestion regarding that is also welcome.

  • You should take up this issue with someone who you would like to be your supervisor Mar 30, 2015 at 8:32
  • well...not much.....but i am little bit confused about choosing subject in subject gre since scoring in maths is much more easier than scoring in physics (if later its possible to change departments then of course i'll choose maths)......any suggestion regarding that is also welcome. Mar 30, 2015 at 9:02
  • The first and second part are really two separate questions and should be asked separately (so future users can more easily search for them and so it is clear which answer to accept) Mar 30, 2015 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


First of all, please remember that PhD is not about learning; learning about many different areas/fields/subjects. More specifically, it is not about increasing you knowledge in breadth, i.e., you know Mathematics, you can now learn about physics, then you can learn about computer science and so on.

PhD is about training in research.

Ask your self this question:

How can I contribute to this area (may be theoretical physics or any) in this particular topic by utilizing the knowledge I already have (say, acquired during bachelors and masters) in this specific field (say, in pure mathematics)?

Once you get the answer to this question (it should be in the form of a nice research proposal) you will definitely be able to do your PhD in that area, which you would select and do homework for.

2nd part:

It really depends upon the institute and the department you are targeting to: what actually is the requirement there? And remember, some might not need GRE subject at all.

So, please make a list of the institutes/departments based upon your interests/priorities and mention their requirements. Then you would be in a better position to decide which one should you go for. Maybe, only because it is unavoidable or simply you can perform better in that.

I would suggest you to have a profound focus upon the first part. Chances are that you might end up targeting a Mathematics department only, still being able to contribute in physics. Even, otherwise would give you a clear vision of what should you do and what you don't.

  • what about the second part? Mar 30, 2015 at 9:16
  • 2
    @SK - Not every answer on the Stack Exchange will answer both parts of a two-part question. You may have to wait for someone who feels more qualified to talk about the second part.
    – J.R.
    Mar 30, 2015 at 9:37

My understanding of your question is that you want to pursue your PhD in an interdisciplinary field (including both math and physics fields).

It is not uncommon to do such a thing... However, doing PhD level research is different than taking bachelor level courses in that field. Taking those bachelor courses familiarizes you with the basics and fundamentals but that's the beginning of the way to the state of the art knowledge you'll be working with during your PhD.

However, if I'm wrong about my hypothesis and you're changing your field entirely then that's a different thing which requires careful consideration of your interests and circumstances.

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