1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Complete Undergraduate Physics Syllabus

  1. Mar 1, 2012 #1
    Does anyone know of a site that enumerates ALL the subjects an undergraduate physics course cover from freshman to last year (which includes common subjects like English, Literature, Economics, etc.)? I'd like to have an idea what subjects are included and especially what kinds of math are taught for example. Does it vary in different universities? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Of course it varies by university. How could it not?

    Every university's catalog (nearly all of which are online) has their degree requirements by major.
  4. Mar 1, 2012 #3
    There's absolutely no way to give a rounded off picture of GE's.

    For physics however, this is fairly standard.

    3-4 semesters of general physics

    LD Calculus, differential equations, linear algebra

    1 semester UD classical mechanics.
    1 semester UD Classical E&M
    1 semester quantum mechanics
    1-2 labs, usually with one that really just comes down to circuits and electronics
    1 semester statistical thermal physics
    1 semester mathematical methods

    But at this point almost anyone would take a second semester of all those courses if offered + physics electives.

    http://www.ucsd.edu/catalog/courses/PHYS.html Here's a random course catalog.
  5. Mar 1, 2012 #4
    You mean they don't include General Relativity or Quantum Field Theory?
  6. Mar 1, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    GR courses tend to be elective upper division classes, while QFT classes at an undergraduate level are pretty unheard of (given that you should probably take a grad level QM course first).

    Usually there will be a sequence up through upper division quantum, E&M, thermo, and mechanics, which is usually complete (or almost complete) by the end of the junior year. After this, there is often a requirement to take a few courses beyond this, but the choice of which is up to the student (GR, condensed matter, particle physics, or some more application based courses, to name a few).
  7. Mar 1, 2012 #6
    So undergraduate physics math only cover LD Calculus, differential equations, linear algebra?

    Just for comparisons, what math subjects graduate courses offer that differ from the undergraduate?
  8. Mar 1, 2012 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Except for, perhaps, partial differential equations, there don't tend to be many math courses for graduate physics courses. (Well, maybe "tensor theory" but that is typically taught as part of a general relativity course rather than a mathematics differential geometry course.)
  9. Mar 1, 2012 #8
    Are graduate courses the same as taking Ph.Ds? About there not being many math courses in graduate or Ph.D. courses. Then where did those physicists who wrote those papers at arxiv learn all those math? You mean the maths there are just composed of LD Calculus, differential equations, linear algebra and partial differential equations?
  10. Mar 1, 2012 #9
    As already mentioned, GR is generally an UD elective IF offered by the school. Otherwise it is a graduate course and most physics UG do not experience any GR.

    QFT is too advanced for UG. If you're lucky, you'll see a taste of relativistic quantum in the tail end of a third quarter or second semester. I actually do not know of any schools with UG QFT.

    Those are the core courses required. Through out ones bachelors you'll acquire more. You'll learn a good amount of complex analysis, tensor calculus, calculus of variations, a lot more differential equations methods, etc. But those are generally learned in physics courses.

    Every graduate program has a mathematical methods (although it might be built into graduate E&M or classical course) that will cover advanced methods of complex analysis, asymptotics, etc. From there, some graduate programs have specialized courses perhaps in group theory, topological methods, etc.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook