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Engineering physics to Physics

  1. Dec 8, 2013 #1
    Hello everyone ;)
    I'm sophomore engineering physics student.actually im kinda unsure. you know im not that much into engineering jobs but i like to learn abt elctronics and all other stuff. in the meanwhile im realy into theoretical physics and im planning to continue my Ms or phd in physics. the problem begins here. whether i get my bs in EP and apply for physics Ms(and most probably im seeking for fund) do i have a low chance of being accepted? do a professor would rather get a physics student instead of me!(EP student)? or no i may be much more lucky?

    or beyond all these im a foreign student plannig to continue my studyings in us or canada,and i dont have enough perspective of my major in these countries . dont u think just sticking in EP would be better for me?

    or you may recommend me change my major immediately into physics and continue till the death :P?
    (im in hurry i would be happy if u can help me ;) .tnx
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    My feeling is that you would do well to switch over as you will need some grounding in quantum mechanics and other modern physics courses to be ready for a graduate program. Engineering physics is primarily applications of classical mechanics and so you're possibly missing out om electromagnetic theory, optics, quantum mechanics, and relativity and the math to go with these topic.

    Wait for others to add their thoughts to this thread before you decide.
  4. Dec 8, 2013 #3
    You are probably right.i need all those courses.actually im planning to have my optional courses through quantum2 and,,, jus to be able keep up with physics. but its not guaranteed. means i may not be able to, due to university rules.
    i just dont know will EP feed my needings in more theoretical physics meanwhile giving me more opportunities in my future,, or i ll be regret my life as a simple engineer!!
  5. Dec 8, 2013 #4
    better to add this, that i like to get involved in crazy things that could be done with chips&electrical circuit,
  6. Dec 8, 2013 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    Right now you need to focus on whats best for you and not want to do everything or at least multiple things. This is the downfall of so many people spreading yourself out to thinly that you cant complete your degree with good grades which then torpedo your chances of getting into grad school.

    The wanderlust of other areas of study outside your degree usually means you are bored ith what you are studying and want the excitement of something new. Instead look more carefully into what you dont understand in your current coursework and you'll find a vast universe of fascination that will lead to a deeper depth of understanding and once mastered you can go onto other topics of interest. Just hang in there and learn what you're being taught first.
  7. Dec 8, 2013 #6
    tnx for your deep words friend. u are defintly right.you know,when im standing at the begining of 2roads and i realy dont know which one to choose,i believe that i can go through both of them in the same time(maybe one with one feet another with another feet!:D or what! but the truth is that its not possible and even not good idea. realy i think i need to overcome this feelings.. in everything there is a way to more perfection
    BUT :( i dont know which perfection!im realy seeking.i guess thats sth i have to deal with .
  8. Dec 8, 2013 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Your post is all all but unreadable. Please re-read the guidelines. We don't allow text speak here; we require you to use proper, standard English.
  9. Dec 9, 2013 #8
    At my school, there's no big difference in physics aptitude 'tween EP and physics majors. A lot of ep majors do research and go on to grad school for physics.
  10. Dec 9, 2013 #9
    With all due respect you are very incorrect when it comes to EP curriculum in the US. Were you describing EP in another country besides the US?
  11. Dec 9, 2013 #10


    Staff: Mentor

    That may be, perhaps you could suggest to the OP or explain from your experience what courses the OP might miss if he transferred to Physics at a later time. I do know that by the junior year courses are tightly tied to the major and it is there where you really begin to learn the core of your major.
  12. Dec 9, 2013 #11


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    Possibly they would miss some GE classes? A lot of EP BS are core physics + a minor in an engineering trade. EP at UCSD is basically physics with less wiggle room for upper division electives since you pick a minor in some engineering field and have to do those design classes. Its pretty much a pipeline to get a Applied physics Doctorate, or so I keep hearing from students.

    How much of that is bull, I don't know, but I do know I've seen them in E&M2. They also keep telling me to go AP haha, but that's a discussion for another time.

    So will it hurt over a physics degree? I don't know, I'd have to see the course list since I assume there is some variance between schools. You should be able to apply straight away to a physics phD depending, speak to someone at your school-like your professors.


    So I got curious and actually googled it, here is UCSD's EP program,

    Thir major provides a strong background in physics and mathematics, and it is intended for students interested in applying theory to applied problems in acoustics, optics, continuum mechanics, and materials science. This program is administered in cooperation with the Department of Physics. The structure of the program is very similar to that of electrical engineering except the depth requirement includes seven courses and there are only five electives.
    Please note that all admitted students are placed in the pre-major and must complete screening requirements for admission to the major.
    Lower Division (70 units): Math 20A-B-C-D-E-F, Physics 2A-B-C-D-2DL, Chem 6A, ECE 15, 25, 30, 35, 45, 65
    Breadth Courses (28 units): ECE 100, 101, 102, 103, 107, 108, 109
    Design Course (4 units): ECE 111 or 118 or 155B or 155C or ECE 191 or ECE 190, or 193H (Honors Students Only)
    Depth Courses (28 units): Phys. 110A, 130A-B, 140A, Math 110A, ECE 123 and 166; or ECE 135A and 135B; or ECE 182 and (181 or 183)
    Elective Courses (16 units): 1 Technical (engineering, physics or math) Elective and 3 Professional Electives

    So ignore my anecdotal ramblings above, that wasn't quite the whole truth.

    OP, is this remotely like your program? Seems EE is pretty heavy for the program here, which makes sense. Also the physics are upper division experimental Mechanics, Quantum, and statistical physics. I'm not sure how they got into E&M2, they must have finagled something, or some how took upper e&m1 with an elective to spare. Really, the only thing my physics BS differs is more freedoms in physics selection, extra classes and opportunities to take grad level classes. I don't see how a EP wouldn't make a great experimentalist. Since the OP is talking about theoretical, I'd advise switching majors if your courses are thusly focused.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  13. Dec 10, 2013 #12
    At my school EP is the most of the core physics curriculum plus a minor in engineering. What kind of engineering? Your choice, they all supplement physics well (and in the case of aero/mech, expand on physics by including lots more fluid mechanics).

    EP requires (besides the usual intro stuff) two semesters of upper division classical mechanics, one semester each of upper division quantum and e&m, two laboratory physics classes, and then you have some wiggle room on your remaining physics requirements. Stat mech is the only "core" upper division physics class that is not a requirement for EP, but anybody going to grad school for physics takes it. You can take honors equivalents if you want, better prep for grad school.

    At my school and other good EP schools in the US and Canada, both EP and physics prepare you for graduate school in physics adequately. Me and other EP majors at my school do physics research, win scholarships (including the Goldwater, Churchill, and Rhodes), and do competitive REUs abroad, and go to top grad schools for physics. EP in no way is a setback for a would-be physicist. In fact I believe that every physicist from my school who either got the Churchill, Goldwater, or won the Nobel in physics, were EP majors and not physics majors. EP shows that not only can you handle the physics courseload, but you can handle engineering as well. This is especially good if you want to be an experimentalist, I suppose.
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