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Courses How do 'unique' courses look on graduate applications?

  1. Apr 15, 2010 #1
    I'm wondering how I can expect the "course" I'm taking this summer to look on a graduate school application for physics? I put "course" in quotations because I'm the only one in the course, and it is kind of made up for me as sort of an independent study with a professor.

    The professor will dictate the focus of the course, but he said to start reading "Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei" by Osterbrock.

    My first thought was "Great! This will look really good on my application!"
    But after thinking about it....there will really be no way for the schools to know exactly what the course involved. There will be no course description or even course listing in my University catalogue....so now I'm not so sure it will look like anything special.

    I'm curious to see how an independent study type class like I'll be taking this summer will look to grad programs in comparison to the research stuff and graduate courses. (I'm not sure of the listing on this course, but I think it will be listed as a 5000 level course, which is graduate or special permission undergraduate level at my University)

    I get the impression from the professor that he is going to put me through a good deal of torment.....so I'm hoping that the end result won't be a "meh...so he took a non-standard class....next applicant!" when grad admissions see the listing on my records. lol
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2010 #2


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    Have the professor write a letter of recommendation for you. Then he can describe what you did. Assuming you do OK in it, of course...
  4. Apr 15, 2010 #3


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    I can't speak to how admissions officials will see it, but I think it shows that you are ambitious, driven, and self motivated. It takes a lot of discipline to self-study.
  5. Apr 16, 2010 #4
    You'll have plenty of valid skills to talk about when it comes to graduate school, and that is very important.
  6. Apr 16, 2010 #5
    Cool. I was hoping to hear answers along these lines. lol
    It looks like it's going to be more work than the credit hours will show, so I hope I can show that on my applications.

    I'll have the professor write a letter of recommendation (if I do well...), hopefully that will make it clear.

    Thanks for the advice!
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