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Courses Graduate Quantum as an Undergrad

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Hello,

I'm considering taking the graduate level quantum mechanics course offered at my university (based on Sakurai/Shankar). I am currently reading Sakurai's QM, and mostly understand the topics (I'm currently reading the theory of angular momentum). There have been some steps where I still don't understand what he did, and some problems have stumped me, mainly ones concerning an experiment or estimate. For some of these issues though, I believe I don't understand it because I don't have enough foundation in classical mechanics and electrodynamics, which I have yet to take.

I am planning on taking classical mechanics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, partial differential equations, complex variables, and maybe probability (I am unsure if a full math course on probability would be helpful).

My main concern is the workload of a graduate course. I will still be taking at least 3 other undergraduate courses, probably electrodynamics II and maybe a math course like real analysis or number theory. Also, I was thinking of taking the course even if I still take undergraduate QM.

Any thoughts on doing this and would you recommend it?

Thank you in advance
 
Last edited:

Choppy

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I was thinking of taking the course even if I still take undergraduate QM.
Generally speaking, QM courses are designed to be taken in sequence. Normally you have two or three semesters of undergrad QM before the graduate course. I would advise against skipping the typical sequence at your school. For most students, that's a recipe for disaster. If you have reason to believe you're an exception, make sure you speak to the professor who teaches the class and go over your background with him or her. At most schools, you'll probably need the permission of the instructor anyway if you don't have the prerequisite coursework. At absolute minimum this is a question to go over with your academic advisor.

Something else to keep in mind is that often graduate schools will require students to take their own graduate QM courses. That means even if you've taken graduate QM from your undergrad institution, you'll still be expected to take it as your graduate school when you're working on your MSc or PhD. So in taking it early you may in effect be costing yourself the opportunity to take another course.
 
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If you have reason to believe you're an exception, make sure you speak to the professor who teaches the class and go over your background with him or her.
I was thinking of also asking the professor if I could just sit in on the class for one semester to see if I feel I can handle the material and/or course load.

So in taking it early you may in effect be costing yourself the opportunity to take another course.
I understand the cost if I still take undergraduate QM, but if I just take graduate QM instead, I was hoping to use that as a prereq to take QFT. The syllabus of one of the professors who teaches QFT even says the undergraduate sequence is enough, but that is 3 courses. If I am ready, I was hoping to jump into graduate QM I, which is the only prereq. Or do you think it is more worthwhile to take courses on solid state physics, plasma physics, and just different areas?

My main motivation for trying to move ahead like this is to do theoretical physics research. I am starting with some experimental research, but I want to get a flavor of theoretical research since it is the area I am interested in.
 
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ZapperZ

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In all of this, why have your academic advisor not come into the picture at all?

Zz.
 
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In all of this, why have your academic advisor not come into the picture at all?
I have yet discussed with my academic advisor anything other than what I'm taking this Fall. I'm pretty sure closer to the start of the school year I can discuss this with my advisor, in a couple of weeks maybe.
 

ZapperZ

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I have yet discussed with my academic advisor anything other than what I'm taking this Fall. I'm pretty sure closer to the start of the school year I can discuss this with my advisor, in a couple of weeks maybe.
This person should have been the first person you asked about this, rather than a bunch of strangers on the internet.

Zz.
 
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This person should have been the first person you asked about this, rather than a bunch of strangers on the internet.
I'm planning on speaking with my advisor. I just wanted some advice from people who have possibly done this, or know of this. It's just advice from a bunch of strangers on the internet who know a thing or two about physics. This whole forum should go down based on what you are saying, because you are implying that anything anyone says on this forum is untrustworthy. Yes, I will be skeptical about what I hear, but I still am looking for advice. And I just thought this forum might be the best place to go to get advice right now.
 

Vanadium 50

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And I just thought this forum might be the best place to go to get advice right now
OK, I'll bite. Why do you need to know right now?
 
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OK, I'll bite. Why do you need to know right now?
I don't need to know right now. I am trying to see how my four years at university might look like, and I just wanted to see what some people thought about taking graduate QM as an undergrad to take QFT. Or if its more worthwhile to take intro to plasma physics, solid state physics, and other physics classes I can take as an undergrad outside of the required courses.
 

ZapperZ

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I'm planning on speaking with my advisor. I just wanted some advice from people who have possibly done this, or know of this. It's just advice from a bunch of strangers on the internet who know a thing or two about physics. This whole forum should go down based on what you are saying, because you are implying that anything anyone says on this forum is untrustworthy. Yes, I will be skeptical about what I hear, but I still am looking for advice. And I just thought this forum might be the best place to go to get advice right now.
I never said you shouldn't ask that advice here. I said that the FIRST person you should be asking is your academic advisor. So read carefully!

While many of us have gone through similar situations, we are not you, and you are not me! Furthermore, I do not know your academic level, your grades, your performance, how clever and how good you are at these subjects, etc....etc. Telling someone "sure, go ahead and take that graduate level solid state physics" without knowing ANY of the background information is IRRESPONSIBLE!

Your academic advisor has several advantages over any of us here. He/she knows your situation better than any of us ever can, he/she knows the level of students taking these courses at your school, and he/she may have had experience with other students in your similar circumstances and could use those to guide you on what you wish to do. He/she may even know the level of difficulty of those courses and whether students in your situation have and successes and failures in such classes. None of us here is privy to such information.

Now, if after you talk to your advisor, and you want a second opinion, etc.. THEN I can understand you asking such a question here. It would help to hear what your advisor has said, and why you have issues with it.

I'm a physicist, I teach college-level physics, and I've advised many students. But to you, I am still an internet stranger, and I would never offer any academic advice to you based on the very little that I know of you.

Zz.
 
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Telling someone "sure, go ahead and take that graduate level solid state physics" without knowing ANY of the background information is IRRESPONSIBLE!
My apologies for misunderstanding what you meant. I see what you meant now, and I completely misinterpreted your intentions earlier. Also, when I said I could take plasma physics, or solid state physics instead, I am referring to the undergraduate versions my university offers.

The head advisor, whom I only spoke to briefly, said that he doesn't recommend it to most people because the graduate version assumes you have taken the undergraduate version. I have taken an edX course on quantum mechanics based on griffiths, and am now reading and working through the problems in Modern Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai.

My main concern is the course-load of a graduate course. I have heard that the work for a graduate course is much more than for an undergraduate course, and I was worried that if I am taking the graduate course, which is also much harder than the undergraduate version, and taking 3 other undergraduate courses, I won't be able to keep up.

I'll definitely speak to my advisor more about this since he/she will know particularly how it will work at my university.
 

Dr Transport

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The head advisor, whom I only spoke to briefly, said that he doesn't recommend it to most people because the graduate version assumes you have taken the undergraduate version.
I would think that would be the end of this discussion, the head advisor doesn't reccomend it, that is pretty final.
 
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I would think that would be the end of this discussion, the head advisor doesn't reccomend it, that is pretty final.
Got it. Thanks for the help.
 

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