Courses for Theoretical Physics PhD

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  • Thread starter tarnhelm
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  • #1
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What do you think of the following courses in my last two years, if I intend to apply for a good PhD in a more Theoretical area of Physics:

In the Physics dept:

Mathematical Methods 1
Waves & Diffraction
Quantum Mechanics
Thermal Physics
Electromagnetic Theory 1
Solid State Physics
Nuclear & Particle Physics
Atomic Systems
Particle Physics
Research Project

In the Maths dept:

Mathematical Methods (ODEs and PDEs)
Analysis of Differentiation and Integration
Methods of Complex Analysis
Abstract Algebra
Mechanics of Rigid and Deformable Bodies
Dynamical Systems
Partial Differential Equations (calculus of variations, Hamiltonian formalism etc)
Mathematical Physics (operators, symmetries, lie groups etc)
Further Complex Analysis

I could substitute the Algebra course for a Topology course, depending on which is more useful, and then do Differential Geometry instead of Further Complex Analysis.

Is this adequate to get into a good PhD program? I'm concerned about the lack of relativity and more advanced quantum mechanics courses. The alternative is to drop most of the Maths and do GR and Quantum Theory, but I want a good foundation in Maths. There's not much scope for flexibility here.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Nabeshin
Science Advisor
2,205
16
I'm concerned about the lack of relativity and more advanced quantum mechanics courses. The alternative is to drop most of the Maths and do GR and Quantum Theory, but I want a good foundation in Maths. There's not much scope for flexibility here.

In my (fellow undergraduate) experience, upper division math courses are not extremely useful for physics (even theoretical). The way the mathematicians would like to teach the course and the way in which the maths might be applicable to a physics concept (i.e. group theory to quantum mechanics) is usually very different. Of course, it can never hurt to take extra math classes, since you will occasionally recognize concepts and whatnot, but I wouldn't expect anything significant in relation to your physics education (most advanced mathematics is covered in upper division physics courses as it is necessary, so you will likely re-learn things you may have already seen).

Relativity and QM are quite important, and will help a lot if you have an advanced undergraduate course before moving on to the graduate versions. So I'd recommend taking these.
 
  • #3
17
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Well of course I know that QM is important - but frankly looking at the course outlines, even the more advanced undergraduate courses don't go beyond what's in Griffiths' book, and I've pretty much worked through that already in preparation for summer research I'm doing.

I suppose my point is more: when admissions people look at my transcript, will that list of courses look adequate or will it disadvantage me due to any perceived gaps.
 

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