# Difference between EE and Physics E&M?

• zyj
In summary, there are differences between the electromagnetism courses taught in Electrical Engineering and Physics majors. Electrical Engineering tends to have a more applied approach, with a heavy emphasis on transmission line theory and waveguides, while Physics offers a more theoretical approach. However, the differences between courses can also depend on the school and professor teaching the course. Generally, the purpose of an EE undergraduate degree is to prepare students for jobs, while a Physics degree may lead to further research studies. In graduate school, students can expect to learn more in-depth about electromagnetism in both fields of study.

#### zyj

I'm just wondering, but what sort of difference is there between the electromagnetism that Electrical Engineering majors learn and the electromagnetism that Physics majors learn?

I'm also interested in this. In the end, the EE will probably know more about electromagnetism (at least applied) than a general physicist. At my university, electrophysics both applied and theoretical are a subset field of EE.

I can give you an example for the school I am currently attending (University of Toronto)

Here is the syllabus for the third year EM course in Physics:

"Solving Poisson and Laplace equations via method of images and separation of variables, Multipole expansion for electrostatics, atomic dipoles and polarizability, polarization in dielectrics, Ampere and Biot-Savart laws, multipole expansion in magnetostatics, magnetic dipoles, magnetization in matter, Maxwell’s equations in matter."

Here is the syllabus for the fourth year EM course in Physics:

"Special Relativity, four-vector calculus and relativistic notation, the relativistic Maxwell’s Equations, electromagnetic waves in vacuum and conducting and non-conducting materials, electromagnetic radiation from point charges and systems of charges."

Here is the syllabus for the third year EM course in Engineering Science (EE/EngPhys):

"An introduction to transmission line theory: voltage and current waves, characteristic impedance, reflections from the load and source, transients on the line, Smith’s chart, impedance matching. Fundamentals of electromagnetic theory: Maxwell’s equations, Helmholtz’s theorem, time retarded scalar and vector potentials, gauges, boundary conditions, electric and magnetic fields wave equations and their solutions in lossless and lossy medium. Plane wave propagation, reflection and transmission at boundaries. Constitutive relations and dispersion. Radiating dipole and waveguides."

And here is the syllabus for the third year EM course in EE:

"Voltage and current waves on a general transmission line, reflections from the load and source, transients on the line, and Smith’s chart. Maxwell’s equations, electric and magnetic fields wave equations, boundary conditions, plane wave propagation, reflection and transmission at boundaries, constitutive relations, dispersion, polarization; Poynting vector; waveguides. "

*note that there is no 4th year EE pure EM courses

So if you notice, there is a heavy emphasis on transmission line theory and waveguides in engineering disciplines, which makes sense. Physics usually offers a much more theoretical approach, whereas engineering is much more applied. So there is a difference. Unless you want to do pure theory in graduate school, you should be fine taking either version of the course.

That said, it differs a lot between schools and professors also. Often the syllabi include things which are never even close to being covered due to time constraints. Most often the biggest differences between the courses are the things that get left toward the end, ie. the specialties such as applications and whatnot. Other than that EM will always be EM no matter what way you slice it.

The EE E&M is an extremely watered down version of the physics E&M, by the end of the year I will have taken both and from reading just griffiths e&m in preparation for wangness which I've also read through there is no comparison.

You wouldn't go deep into anything in EE undergrad including E&M. But EE does have E&M research area. In EE graduate school, you will learn deeper E&M.

I believe the purpose of EE undergrad degree is to get you a job not lead you into further research studies. On other hands, you will find it hard to get a job after Physics degree. But, you will be in good shape to go further into higher studies even in EE.

The graduate level EE E&M course I took (kind of a graduate level overview of EE EM) was a combination of the syllabus nicholls posted for the third year EM course in Physics and the third year EM course in Engineering Science (EE/EngPhys).

## What is the difference between Electrical Engineering (EE) and Physics E&M?

Electrical Engineering (EE) is a branch of engineering that focuses on the design, development, testing, and implementation of electrical systems and their components. It deals with the generation, transmission, and usage of electrical power, as well as the design of electronic devices. On the other hand, Physics E&M (Electromagnetism) is a subfield of physics that studies the properties and behavior of electric and magnetic fields, and their interaction with matter.

## Do EE and Physics E&M cover the same topics?

While EE and Physics E&M both deal with electricity and magnetism, they approach these topics from different perspectives. EE focuses on the practical applications and engineering aspects of electricity and magnetism, while Physics E&M delves deeper into the fundamental principles and theories behind these phenomena. As a result, the topics covered in each field may overlap, but they are not exactly the same.

## Can an EE major take Physics E&M courses and vice versa?

Yes, it is possible for an EE major to take Physics E&M courses and vice versa. However, the level of difficulty and depth of the courses may vary. EE students may find Physics E&M courses challenging due to the heavy emphasis on mathematical theory and concepts. Similarly, Physics E&M students may struggle with the practical and applied aspects of EE courses.

## What career paths are available for EE and Physics E&M graduates?

EE graduates have a wide range of career opportunities in industries such as power and energy, telecommunications, electronics, and computer hardware and software. They can work as design engineers, project managers, systems analysts, or consultants. Physics E&M graduates, on the other hand, can pursue careers in research and development, academia, or in industries such as aerospace, defense, and healthcare, where knowledge of electromagnetism is crucial.

## Is one field better than the other?

Both EE and Physics E&M are valuable fields with their own unique applications and contributions. It ultimately depends on an individual's interests and career goals. Some may prefer the hands-on, practical approach of EE, while others may be more interested in the theoretical and fundamental aspects of Physics E&M. Both fields have their own challenges and opportunities, and it is important to choose the one that aligns with your interests and strengths.