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E&M vs Optics

  1. Aug 29, 2015 #1
    Does anyone know how much undergraduate E&M you need to know in order to do well in a graduate engineering Optics course? Is it an absolute pre-requisite?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2015 #2
    Yes, it seems it is. As a biochemist student exploring biophysics options, it seems that for me I have to take E&M courses, and sometimes mechanics, before I get to take a course on electrodynamics or optics. I think these courses can be useful for me, but I suspect I might never use 90% of what I will learn in my professional career, and there's so many other courses that I can take that have direct applications.

    For math and physics, programs are going to be very rigid. If I end finding the need for optics myself, I'd take E&M first to get a foundation. Even if you know the math, if you don't know the physics, I assume it is just going to be a hassle and probably a waste of time.

    I guess you also aren't a physics student so maybe you are in a similar position. And in the end 'absolute prerequisite' means if they will allow you without it or not. I mean, if they allow student without E&M to take the course, but they fail 100% of the time, I guess it isn't an 'absolute prerequisite'.
  4. Aug 29, 2015 #3
    It's hard for us to answer that question since it probably depends on your university and/or specific program. However, probably at least two semesters of E&M will be needed.
  5. Aug 30, 2015 #4
    It's an Electrical Engineering graduate level optics course at Colorado State University
  6. Aug 30, 2015 #5


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    I would say, the classical electrodynamics part of any EM textbook will be able to cover any possibilities of optical engineering curriculum.
  7. Aug 30, 2015 #6


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    Did you look in their course catalog? It is almost certainly online.

  8. Sep 1, 2015 #7
    I took a senior level physics course in optics (Optics by Hecht) before taking any upper-level E&M and it was manageable, but I can't really speak or a graduate level engineering course. I had to spend some time catching up on classical EM wave propagation things, but the first couple weeks of the class were reviewing that anyway. What topics will your course be covering? I think that's important. Also, what book will you be using?
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