I am an undergraduate student of electronics and telecommunication engineering in a govt. college in India. But I am extremely interested in physics and mathematics. I want to pursue a research career in physics and mathematics. I generally receive suggestions like taking the GRE test. But I have the following questions:

  1. What is the minimum amount of physics I am supposed to have mastered at the end of my engineering?

  2. How much of physics or physics related subjects should I have in my UG course?

  3. How much is an adequate grade (What puzzles me most is that if I am intending to do physics why should my grades in engineering should be considered?)

  • 1
    I am only familiar with the US system, but I encourage you to check with a prospective department/university in your program area. If you want to transfer to undergrad, there are usually specific "transcript review" policies to see what credits can transfer/count towards your new degree. If you are seeking grad school acceptance in physics after completing a UG in engineering, that is more heavily dependent on what each school states in their entrance requirements. I'm looking at engineering from a non-engineering degree, and one school only required 3 engnr and no physics classes at all. YMMV
    – BrianH
    May 7, 2013 at 0:39
  • 1
    As to grades, this also varies widely by school. In the US some grad schools only consider the last 2 years of work towards the GPA, some have one requirement for major courses and a different one for non-major courses (so say 3.5 average for major but only 2.5 for others), and for most they require a relatively low entrance requirement but prefer higher grades. As to reasoning for considering all grades, institutions often reasonably worry that if you average C's and D's in areas you don't like that perhaps you'll also do poorly when faced with a required course/task you don't like.
    – BrianH
    May 7, 2013 at 0:43
  • 1
    @user7014 You should try getting into a good masters program in India itself before going phd abroad. Read my full answer below.
    – user774025
    May 20, 2013 at 4:24
  • There are plenty of options in India for an engineer to enter physics field. Most of them are mentioned in this blog physicsafterengineering.blogspot.in
    – dushyanth
    Apr 22, 2018 at 5:42

4 Answers 4


Cross-disciplinary movement does happen fairly frequently, particularly between engineering and the mathematical and physical sciences. Unfortunately, as the academic disciplines themselves become more cross-disciplinary, it becomes much harder to say what specific training one needs to move from one field to another between the undergraduate and graduate levels.

A good way to check for the qualifications you are likely to need is to examine the course requirements of schools you're already interested in attending as a graduate student—if your undergraduate program has sufficient depth in math and physics to allow you to take those courses as a graduate student, then an admissions committee will likely be OK with the lateral movement.

If you have questions about what is necessary, you can contact the person in charge of admissions at some of the departments you're interested in for further clarification.

  • Could you add something on grades ?
    – user7014
    May 6, 2013 at 3:37
  • About all I can say with respect to grades is do the best job you can. There's no single magic score," but the better you do, obviously, the better your overall chances.
    – aeismail
    May 6, 2013 at 7:46

It is very difficult, almost impossible, to enter into a good graduate program in the US with an undergraduate program in engineering from India. So, instead of preparing for the GRE, you should try to get into the Masters program in Math at ISI, CMI or maybe at the IIT's. If you're interested in physics you should try to get into a Masters physics program at IIT through JAM. So, you should start preparing for their entrance tests.

I would suggest you to choose either physics or math because preparing for both the entrance tests at the same time can be really difficult.


Since you asked about grades and courses I think these pages will give you a good idea.





I believe Engineering (communication) gives you a good amount of mathematical tools. It gives you basics in Physics like electromagnetic for instance. In Physics and Math, they concentrate more on the physical aspects and mathematical aspects of Physics and Math. In engineering, they focus more on applications. Moreover, they focus much more on theoretical aspects. For instance, there is a big difference between a probability course for mathematicians and that for communication engineers.

I think you can compete, since engineering students are usually smart. Perhaps you will need to take few courses before being able to compete with students having undergrad degrees in Physics or even Math.

Note: I have an engineering degree (electrical), and then moved to Computer science. I can't really answer your question precisely. But when I started my Master I needed to do study 2-4 CS courses.

  • Well , I actually intend to do masters in physics or maths first before moving up to grad school. Could you add something on grades and I hope masters degree is a fine way to fulfill the requirements of some grad school.
    – user7014
    May 6, 2013 at 3:38
  • Well. I dont know how they will count your degree. They will usually send your grades to a committee that will decide which courses will fit in the new program and which won't. Your GPA, sadly, is the main measure university take before considering students in any study field.
    – AJed
    May 6, 2013 at 16:51
  • The amount of math in engineering is not at all enough for doing graduate work in mathematics. To have a non-zero chance of getting of getting into a decent grad school(phd) in US the minimum bare requirement is courses in abstract algebra, real analysis, complex analysis and point-set topology. But students who do get selected have actually taken many advanced(graduate level) courses during their undergraduate years
    – user774025
    May 20, 2013 at 9:16

I am on the same path as of yours. I am thinking of taking IELTS test. Well actually I did Electronics and Comm bachelors and worked for 2 years in embedded systems and now planning for physics masters.To bridge the gap, I am right now taking courses in coursera.org and edx.org. Perhaps you can consider this too.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .