How to become a Physicist after Engineering?


You often see questions like
"How to study Theoretical Physics after engineering?" 
"How to do masters in physics after mechanical engineering?"
 "Can I study Physics after engineering?" 
"How do I do PhD in Physics after Engineering?"
To all those questions, the answer is,

"Yes!! you can study Physics after engineering in India"

"and there are plenty of ways too!!" 


Hello fellow Physics enthusiasts!!!

                   Hey fellow Engineer!!!  If you're an engineering student or graduate and are aspiring to have a career in Physics after engineering, you're in the right place. At this point in your career, you must be wondering if there are any ways to do that.. We completely understand your dilemma cause we all have been through the exact same situation before we took the leap of faith with the little information we had at that moment. All for the love of physics😇. Don't worry, it won't be same for you, You'll be well informed about all the options available (all that we know of I meant 😅). We're here to clear all your doubts and share a few success stories of Engineers who were like you and me earlier and now are having a successful career in Physics after Engineering.

Also you might be wondering if there are any other people like you, looking to switch physics after engineering.. the answer is a yes!! there are many people who visit the blog and of them, we've successfully built a community of 120+ engineers like you, looking to switch to physics after engineering. You can join the whats-app group by clicking this invite link. The people over there will be helping each other out and you'll also get suggestions from a few like us who have successfully entered Physics after engineering. Also check out the journey of Vaibhav sharma from being an ordinary engineer to doing M.Sc physics in IIT Bombay and then going to Cornell University to pursue his PhD in physics here My Journey into Physics After Engineering - Vaibhav Sharma.

Note: All that said, Reader discretion is advised on choosing a physics career cause one might not earn as much as one can with can engineering or MBA degree. It also takes a lot of time to settle in this field so be prepared to see all your crushes and Exes getting married and having a kid or two while you're still studying. Also Cracking the competitive exams below and completion of degrees require serious commitment and love for the subject. Assuming you have it all in you already, Let's now enter into details

Ways to study Physics after Engineering:

These are the major ways for doing Msc or Integrated Ph.D.(or direct Ph.D. in some cases) in Physics after Engineering.
[Note: Details about Distance MSc physics degree are at the bottom.]
  • JAM
  • Universities Entrance tests.
  • Opportunities abroad (Physics GRE, General GRE, IELTS and TOFEL etc)
  • JEST
  • TIFR GS (Integrated Ph.D. paper)
  • MS by research programs
  • TIFR Hyderabad
  • Direct Ph.D.
  • Astronomy and related programs
  • GATE
  • CSIR NET
  • Distance programs(At the bottom of the page)
Click Exam and Probable Dates for details about the exams and deadlines.

The three exams JEST, GATE, and NET have syllabus of Msc+Bsc. All other mentioned above are conducted on Bsc level syllabus and are easier for us Engineers with less physics background to crack.


JAM exam:

           [ See this Guide to an engineering student's preparation for IIT JAM for Msc physics by Vaibhav Sharma for preparation and full details about JAM exam]

 This is conducted by IITs as an entrance test to Msc and integrated Ph.D. in IITs and IISC. Also, some IISERs take jam rankers to integrated Ph.D. This is the best of all options for slow learners. For those who can't spend a year preparing for entrance tests, this will be a boon. Even if you prepare perfectly only up to 12th class level physics, you can get a rank under 500 easily. So, even if you are preparing for JEST, I strongly recommend keeping this as a backup option at least.
Are Engineers eligible for MSc Physics in IITs through JAM?
Do see this post to get some idea about the Eligibility criteria for admission through JAM

Universities Entrance tests: 

             I've strenuously searched eligibility criteria of at least a 50 to 100 major colleges and universities and of all those, I've listed the institutes that I found to give admits to Engineering grads in M.Sc Physics. Almost all of the Institutes below don't have any eligibility criteria of course work unlike IITs which is a great thing :
  • IUCAA-INAT exam (even this application comes out in September)
  • JNU ,Delhi ( Application starts early in the September itself, be watchful)  
  • Delhi University 
  • Pune University😊
  • University of Hyderabad (HCU)
  • IIT Mandi (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Christ University (Bangalore)
  • Utkal University (Bhuvaneswar)
  • The Central University of Haryana [CUH] (This is good place apparently Msc Physics in CUH after engineering)
  • Central University of Rajasthan [CUR]  (The CUR and CUH have a common entrance test CUCET)
  • LPU (Lovely professional University)[LPUCET]
I'm not sure how good the few institutes in the last are..do your own research.
     And here is the The Probable Dates and syllabus of the above exams.

    Opportunities Abroad (Physics GRE, General GRE, IELTS and TOFEL etc): 

                  I personally feel if you can fund yourself, then this is the best of all the options mentioned. Because switching career is very easy thing abroad and the opportunities you have there are numerous and the research happening even in the mediocre colleges there is comparable to good colleges here. General GRE with a combination of TOFEL or IELTS is necessary for the USA and Physics GRE is recommended. As for the European countries, only IELTS is enough (Sending GRE scores might add to your profile but is not mandatory). The tuition fee is zero in some countries like Italy and Germany.

    Also check out this List of opportunities in physics for engineers abroad by Pleasant in his blog

    Refer to these posts by Vaibhav for detailed info about : 

    External Links: Refer to this answer for Physics GRE preparation
                              Physics GRE Discussion Forums this might be helpful

    TIFR GS: 

               TIFR is one of the elite research institutes in India if not the best. Even better than IISC as far as physics is concerned. If you opt for integrated Ph.D. paper, Your questions will be from Bsc syllabus but the no.of questions will be rather less and look for your deep understanding of a concept. Very few people get selected this way. The interviews will also be very thought-provoking. You need to be very strong with your fundamentals. All TIFR institutes will take students through this.

               The best part of this is the stipend, you'll receive a monthly fellowship of Rs 16,000/- for the first year. At the end of the first year, upon satisfactory performance, the fellowship is enhanced to Rs 25,000/- per month (further raised to Rs 28,000/- after registration for Ph.D. and annual contingency of Rs. 20,000/-(First Year Int. Ph.D. students)-Book Grant Only / 32,000/- per year [Ph.D. students and Int. Ph.d. students (Second Year on wards)]

    TIFR Hyderabad:

            If you have a GATE score of above 480 in any stream of engineering or science, you can apply for this. If you have already secured a good Gate score (480+) in your engineering stream then this will be a great option for you. This is an interdisciplinary program and specifically designed for B.Tech/ B.E graduates. It may definitely not be as good as the main campus of TIFR but still, it is one of the best institutes in India. The stipend and contingency is same as for all the TIFR institutes as mentioned above.

    MS by research: 

                Some IITs and some other institutes offer MS by research programmes. IISER Kolkatta offers one such in space research. If you happen to be interested in that specific field of research then these would be a wonderful opportunity for you.

    JEST: 

                  It is an exam conducted on Msc level syllabus and is accepted by almost all State of the Art research institutes in India (checkout the list of accepting institutes in JEST website) A good rank in JEST can get you into research-oriented institutes which JAM can’t offer. The best part of this is you'll be receiving a stipend of around 15-16k per month during your two year course work and after that you'll get a stipend of 25-28k per month.
                 
    The reason I have put JEST so low on the list despite it being accepted in research institutes is: 
    • All most all of the institutes (HRI is the only exception I know of) that take through JEST, offer integrated Ph.D. only. It’s not suggested to leave it in the middle with a Master degree. So, If you have any dreams of going abroad or to better institutes for Ph.D., you can’t achieve them. But if you do MSc or MS through JAM or other good Universities and build up your profile, You can pursue Ph.D. in much better institutes in India or abroad. But keep in mind that MSc in IITs may not give you research experience as much as these research institutes do during masters. 
    • Its syllabus is vast and some may feel difficulty in cracking it with one-year preparation (not impossible though). I personally do know people who cracked JEST with 1-year preparation.

    Astronomy and related programs

    • Inter University centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) - INAT exam
    • National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) - INAT and TIFR-GS
    • Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST)
    • Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) -IIAST exam 
    • Physics Research Laboratory (PRL)
    • IIT Indore Msc in astronomy (through JAM)

    Direct PhD:

    These are the institutes that offer direct PhD to engineers as mentioned in the JEST website. You need to have a really good knowledge in the specific research field you are applying for to crack the interviews
    • IMSC, Chennai
    • NCRA-TIFR, Pune
    • RRI, Bangalore
    • Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) [Although it's mentioned as direct PhD those who don't have physics background have to attend a year and half of course work. So It's basically a Integrated PhD programme again)
    • IISC Bangalore
    • Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore [Eligibility]
    • TCIS-TIFR Hyderabad
    • IISERs : Pune, Mohali, Tiruvunanthapuram and Tirupati

    GATE and NET: 

                 B.tech/B.E grads are eligible to write GATE and NET but are not quite relevant for engineers looking to do M.sc. So it's better focus on other more useful exams rather than these.

    Other exams for some institutes like CMI (A very prestigious institute !!!) also accept B.Tech/B.E grads for both integrated and direct Ph.D., check their websites and also ensure you meet all their eligibility criteria.
    You may also refer this answer for some more information



    Below is the invite link for our WhatsApp group with 130+ members all of whom are engineers who actively discuss and help each other out in entering physics stream after engineering. 
    https://chat.whatsapp.com/JPmD0hDSjGI3kS6uUidN7D
    Also, do visit all other useful content of our blog Physics after Engineering.

    Mail me on Dushyanth.edadasula@gmail.com for further queries, I will be more than happy to help.

    An earnest plea to readers from me: 

    Do you think the above mentioned are the only good institutes for physics in India? Hell no !!! Apart from all the options mentioned above, there are many other well-renowned universities, colleges, and institutes that offer MSc courses in physics but do not allow us Engineering grads. So, Can we do something about it? I propose we let them know about the sheer number of talented, enthusiastic Engineers looking to switch to physics are present. In the WhatsApp grp related to this blog, we've decided to prepare a letter and mail the same to institutes with all our signatures. So please join the group below by clicking this link, sign it and contribute to the frustrated Engineers community. Not that it will bring about a change suddenly, but just so that we try from our side to make them aware of the situation and maybe, be of help to those who graduate after us.
    [PS: I myself know of three people (Me being one of them and the other two are also close friends of mine) who could get NIT of choice for their JAM rank but couldn't get admission  just because they are engineers, despite scoring good enough to get the seat through counselling]

    Distance programs

              This is a boon for those who are working and can't afford to leave the job to prepare for exams. From what I've heard, many engineers start teaching in some coaching institute for 12th class or JEE and parallelly do MSc in distance. This way you'd be earning, doing masters and most importantly you'll be working in a physics-related field and so your basics in physics will be strong. But again I'm not sure if the non-regular nature this degree might affect your chances of getting Ph.D. While I believe the elite institutes do not bother much about your educational background and all that matters is your interview, I'm still ambivalent about this. If any reader could collect information regarding this and share it with us, it'd be really useful. 
    These are the open universities that I know of to give admission to MSc Physics course for Engineering Grads:
    • Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University (Link)
    • Kuvempu University (Link)
    • NIMS University (Link)
             Apparently, these distance degrees are valid, only if you give the exam in a study centre that is located in the territorial jurisdiction of the university since the above three universities are State Universities, you should only give exam in the respective states in which the university is located for your degree to be recognized by UGC. Check this post about the validity of those degrees.
    All the options that are struck off have been discontinued by UGC since this year(2018)

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