How hard are grad. courses and what to expect?

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  • Thread starter nnguyen
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  • #1
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I am planning to take my first grad course next semester in statistics (analysis of variance) and am debating if I should take grad combinatorial optimization as well. I handled 4 upper div. courses this semester pretty well (ODE, real analysis, probability theory, advanced linear algebra) but am not sure if I can handle a similar course load with grad. courses.

Since the average grad student takes only 2-4 courses a semester, would I be overdoing it if I take both courses along with 2 upper div. undergrad courses (specifically, real analysis II and stochastic processes)? What can I expect in terms of difficulty and workload from graduate courses?
 

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  • #2
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I am planning to take my first grad course next semester in statistics (analysis of variance) and am debating if I should take grad combinatorial optimization as well. I handled 4 upper div. courses this semester pretty well (ODE, real analysis, probability theory, advanced linear algebra) but am not sure if I can handle a similar course load with grad. courses.

Since the average grad student takes only 2-4 courses a semester, would I be overdoing it if I take both courses along with 2 upper div. undergrad courses (specifically, real analysis II and stochastic processes)? What can I expect in terms of difficulty and workload from graduate courses?

My experience: graduate courses can be divided into two classes: prelims and upper division. The prelim courses are courses that most first and second year students will take and are the basis for the qualifying exams. These usually pile on the homework and it can get overwhelming. The upper division courses have typically (much) more advanced material with much less homework since the assumption is you're taking the course to learn not to get an easy A. I should mention I'm talking about math courses here and have actually never even taken a statistics course but one would think it would be similar.

The best thing to do is talk to an advisor. He or she will not only give you advice in general about this, but since this person works at your school, he or she can tell you things like "do NOT take this class, this professor assigns ~25 hrs. of homework a week" that noone here will be able to tell you.
 
  • #3
eri
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Most grad students start out taking 2 courses, so it's probably not a good idea for you to take 2 graduate courses along with 2 other courses. Start with one graduate course.
 
  • #4
but am not sure if I can handle a similar course load with grad. courses.

Then don't. University is not a race, and you don't want to harm your grades because you underestimated a particular course. You might take one and find that you could probably easily have coped, but then you might not. The difference is that the route of choosing just one grad course for the moment will not harm your grades/cause you needless stress.

Otherwise, it's really up to you. The kind of advice you might want to help make a more informed decision isn't going to be available here - speak to people that have taken the courses previously, speak to your advisor and speak to the lecturers for the courses. Lecturers know whether or not the course they teach is 'easy' or extremely difficult: don't ask the question that way, but it's not unreasonable to tell them you're considering X as a workload, and want to know if they think you could commit as much as you need to to their course.
 
  • #5
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Thanks everyone for your input. I've decided to take just 1 course this upcoming Spring to see if I can handle the work load. The professor is new and so is the course so my advisors does not know much but I will speak to him prior to starting the course about the difficulty and preparation required.

As I am done with my undergrad. curriculum after this upcoming semester, I know that I will have plenty of time to take more grad. classes later on so no need to hurry now.
 

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