I'm currently a sophomore at a small liberal arts college. I want to get into one of physics PhD programs with faculties renowned for quantum gravity. I'm majoring in math and physics, and since both departments in my college are small, I will have taken all the upper-level courses in math and physics until the next semester. My major GPA in physics is 4.0, and my GRE physics score is 990, but I will have no math or physics course to take after the next semester. There aren't much research opportunities here. The only research opportunity is available during summer (which is experimental physics, but I'm mainly interested in hep-th). All REUs are not available for international students. (However, there are a few programs available for int'l students, such as Caltech SURF.)
Which of the following choices would be the best?
- Graduating early (3 yrs), going to physics PhD program, and saving $>60k. If I don't get into programs of my choice, I will either stay in the college, in the program until the end, or (hopefully) transferring to them after getting non-terminal Master's degree if I will have a compelling reason.
- Transferring to a high ranked research university for advanced/grad-level physics courses and for more research opportunities
- Staying for 4 yrs in the current institution