Econ/Philosophy major interested in science PhD



I am completely new to this forum.

My basic question is whether it would be possible for me to pursue a PhD in physics or something like comp sci having never taken either of these subjects undergrad (I studied Finance and Economics).

About Me:

I am about to graduate from a top US university having studied economics and philosophy. While my courses in economics and finance are quantitative, I haven't taken any upper lever math or statistics classes. My work in philosophy has been fairly general, but I particularly like thinking about things like the problem of induction and causality. I have close to perfect grades.

I have secured one top jobs in investment banking/private equity for after I graduate and signed a 2 year contract.

I have become very interested in physics and computer science. I have never taken a course in either of these subjects but have been learning on my own.

At this point I am just wondering if I decide that the financial world is for me, whether it is possible for me to go to graduate school in a subject that like physics or computer science that I did not take a single course in during my undergrad. My transcript and recommendations can attest to the fact that I am smart, but will my lack of undergraduate courses in these subjects automatically disqualify me?

Will the fact that I spent 2 years at a respected wall street firm have any bearing on my application (if I decide to apply)?

While it is unlikely that I will end up doing this, if I decide to apply what would I need to do? Would I need to take lots of math and physics at a community college or state school to show that I am interested?

Thanks a lot for your advice. I have been thinking about this for a while and just wanted to see what you all think so that I can put this idea to rest.


Hi Curious

Intersting question you have here. Obviously you are in the American system, and I can only really handle your question from a UK perspective, but here goes.

I suspect if you aimed to pursue physics or computing as a PhD, you would probably need some kind of qualification beforhand, at least in the UK, unless you decided to self fund, which in sciences can get really expensive. I would assume your school grades in maths and sciences are pretty good at least seeing as you are at a top US university.

I suspect the quickest and easiest way to pull of a change of direction like this would be to do a taught masters degree in physical or computational sciences. In the UK these are usually for one year, that should tell you whether you are up for the change of direction, and will prove to a potential PhD sponsor that you can do the job.

A one year masters in the UK (i think) has higher tuition fees than undergrad, so will probably cost you somwehere in the region of £12,000 a year, plus whatever living expenses you require, not sure what the US equivalent of this qualification would be. One other thing to bear in mind, you can do a PhD in 3 years here, whilst in the US it often takes twice that long.


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Physics and Computer Science graduates have an awful lot of knowledge picked up in their Bachelors degrees. You'd need to short-cut that somehow, and that may not be easy.

For Computer Science there are 1-year conversion Masters available, designed for graduates in other subjects who want to retrain. That's what you'd want to look for, but even then you may find it hard to get a PhD place afterwards competing with graduates with a full BSc of training worth.

I don't know of conversion Masters for people wanting to move to Physics. Frankly I'd be surprised if there are any. And doing a Masters aimed at Physics graduates (as with one aimed at Comp Sci graduates) would be unsuitable for you, because you would simply not have the background knowledge.

I went in the other direction from Comp Sci (BSc, and started a full-time PhD) to history. But I took the long route. I got a BA from the Open University (though it was shorter than needed to be, because of my BSc credit transfer), then a taught Masters, before going on to my PhD. When I applied for funding for the history PhD I was able to be judged on my history BA and Masters, and my science background was irrelevant.

Good luck!