Are graduate classes worth the cost?

• Courses
Hello all, I am a rising sophomore physics undergraduate and I have a few questions regarding taking graduate courses as an undergraduate.

Currently I am signed up to take Quantum Field Theory and a graduate classical mechanics course in the fall. Now graduate courses are expensive, about $1000 more than an undergraduate course. I can afford it but$1000 is $1000. I already know classical mechanics pretty well, and the only differences between the graduate course and the undergraduate course I already took are Poisson brackets, classical field theory, and classical perturbation theory. I know the first two, and am confident I could learn the third on my own. This all has me questioning whether it would be worth the extra$1000 to take the course. The main reason I would still take it is so I don't have to take classical mechanics in grad school. My junior year I will most likely be taking courses in String Theory and Supersymmetry, and by the time I'm in grad school I feel that a course in classical mechanics would be a waste of my time.

So my question is will graduate schools still require me to take classical mechanics if I'm in advanced string theory courses? Thanks in advance for any responses

jtbell
Mentor
The main reason I would still take it is so I don't have to take classical mechanics in grad school.
My understanding is that you can't count on transferring credit for graduate classes to another school.

symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Only read the first sentence of the first message in this topic; and from that, if you are INTERESTED and QUALIFIED for the graduate level course, then do it!

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symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
You are an undergraduate student. Why would a graduate course be more expensive than any other level of course? Number of units credit? Extra laboratory fee?

robphy
Homework Helper
Gold Member
What university is this?
[As an undergrad at a state university, I took some graduate courses... and overloaded... but no change in tuition.]

Graduate courses at my university are all more expensive, even if it's literally the same course with a different number, the university system is great isn't it?

symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Graduate courses at my university are all more expensive, even if it's literally the same course with a different number, the university system is great isn't it?
Interesting to know what kind of system is this in which the course is more expensive just because it is a graduate level course.

Interesting to know what kind of system is this in which the course is more expensive just because it is a graduate level course.

I'm assuming any state university in the US.

symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Interesting to know what kind of system is this in which the course is more expensive just because it is a graduate level course.
I'm assuming any state university in the US.
Probably not in SwaggyP's case.

For those wondering I am at a state US university, and all I know is that the cost per credit hour of graduate classes is almost triple that for undergraduates. I have also decided not to take the course, as I have seen a good amount of graduate schools do not require classical mechanics as part of their curriculum. I still wonder if I will be required to take quantum mechanics and quantum field theory in graduate school. Has anyone in a similar situation been forced to retake classes in graduate school?

Staff Emeritus
Retaking classes in graduate school is the rule, not the exception. The exception is when your advisor changes schools, brings you with him, and if you have already completed your classwork and passed your quals.

It depends on where you took the grad classes and what topics they are in. I myself and a lot of other people I know at my current institution were able to place out of several classes by filling out a petition. At other schools you can take a test (sometimes parts of the qual suffice). I would recommend doing this for core classes like QM, stat mech, and E&M if you feel like you had a very strong course in undergrad and used books like Sakurai, Pathria, Kardar, Jackson etc. I would not recommend placing out of QFT though unless you took more than one semester of it at a school with a top physics grad program. It's always good to take QFT more than once.

I don't know any schools off the top of my head that require classical mechanics.

Dr Transport
Gold Member
Couple of thoughts and facts.....

I was taking courses at a state funded university as a so called "life long learner", i.e. a non-degree seeking student who has a degree. I was also listed as a graduate student, that way I could take any course I felt I was qualified to take, both undergrad and grad, this was a sweet deal. As a graduate student I had to pay the graduate rate for any course, so when I took freshman chemistry, I paid approximately 3 times the undergraduate rate, didn't matter to me, the company I worked for at the time was paying the tuition.

When I went back for my PhD along time ago, I already had a masters degree and was required to retake all the graduate physics courses at my new university, so like everyone has said, your gonna retake the courses if you go someplace else. Look at it as an opportunity to relearn the material and use that to prop up your GPA, I did, every course I retook I got an A in.

You might value a graduate class more because you and your peers will be held to a higher standard than in the undergraduate version, and the class size might smaller. It could also help a little for graduate school admissions. But as others have said, it's unlikely that you will get credit for it. Some schools will allow you to skip a course if you can test out of it, but you generally wouldn't earn credit. That could be all you want though based on what you've said here.

Yes. I completed several courses in graduate school (the first time). I worked professionally for 4 years. After admission at another grad school, I had to pass the same courses again. I had to pass the qualifying exam (again), although I passed the exam in grad school the first time.

For another matter, almost graduate programs require about 10 graduate courses in the physics program. Most grad schools certainly do not offer 10 courses all in string theory. If you do not take CM in grad school, what are you going to take?

Most graduate programs require you to take a distribution of graduate level classes. You may place out of one or two if you have extensive preparation, but this is up to the University and possibly the specific faculty. Suppose for example, you go to super-grad program A University, and complete grad CM with an A. You get into (rival) B -Institute of Technology. Do you think the physics faculty member at B Institute, will say, "he does not have to take my course, He took quantum field theory. He cannot learn anything from me. I've only written the textbook in the subject (CM) used in grad schools for the last thirty years"

By the way, at one point, because I did have graduate CM twice before (my employer paid the tuition for me to take it since it was important for my work), the professor gave me the option between completing a CM course at the graduate school (the second time), and getting credit for it after passing his final exam from an earlier year. Because after passing I had to take another grad course anyway to meet the program requirements. I chose to stay in CM in lieu of the other course.