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How many hours, on average, of pure learning for bachelor degree?

  1. Mar 6, 2015 #1
    Hello. I am in desperate need for advice. I have searched for advice everywhere and each time failed to obtain it. This is my last resort. Please help me and bare with me while I explain the problem.

    I am 28 years old guy. I have literally whole day free to pursue whatever goals I see fit, because I own several websites which are managed by my friend. I made a list of goals and physics/math is on the list. I will hire a teacher who will teach me math and physics every single day. Since I have other goals as well, I can only invest 1 hour per day on math, and 1 hour per day on physics. So, in total, thats 2 hours per day. I can keep up with this regime for 7 years. So, after 7 years, I will invested 2500 hours in physics and 2500 hours in math. I do not want to earn money with this because I already have stable, guaranteed income pretty much for the rest of my life, nor do I want official title/certificate/diploma/recognition. I am doing this purely for myself. Since I have other goals as well, I simply do not have enough time to attend a university. Assuming that everything else is average- average teacher, average focusing ability etc.- how much can I learn in this time? I have basic high school level knowledge in chemistry, physics and math. As an example- simply as a tool to express what level of knowledge I hope to achieve- I hope to have same level of knowledge as average bachelor degree holder (or higher) in math, and same level of knowledge as average bachelor degree holder (or higher) in physics. I want to specialize in Theoretical physics (Astrophysics/Quantum). As for math, I want to learn "pure mathematics" (if that's even a thing)

    Provided that I will invest 2500 hours in physics and same amount of time in math, can I reach the level I am hoping for? If not, if 2500 hours in each field is not enough, then, generally speaking/on average, what amount of time would be enough? How much hours do uni students invest?

    So, if I invest 2500 hours in physics and 2500 hours in math, can I hope to posses university-level knowledge in theoretical physics and "pure mathematics"? Should I drop physics? If I did, 5k hours in math should be enough?
    Forgive me my ignorance.This is it. Please help me. This is very important for me. Again, thanks all of you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    This is a very subjective question.

    But perhaps you can figure it out based on your current experience in high school

    How many hours did you spend on a course in highschool like algebra, geometry or precalculus?

    And how many hours doing study and homework outside of the class?

    As an undergrad, each course you take per semester is equivalent to a one year highschool course.

    Each college course is worth 3 credit hours and you need 40 to graduate with about 30 for your major or related to your major.

    For grad school you need another 60 credit hours or 20 more courses mostly in your major.

    So my rough calculation then is 50 courses x 15 weeks x 3 hours for instruction and at least 2 times that for study and problem solving.
  4. Mar 6, 2015 #3


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    If you are talented and disciplined and your teacher is good, then that's sufficient time. With a personal teacher you should be able to be more efficient than at a school where you are taught as one of many students. Learning pure math explicitly should make it easier to learn the applied math you will need for physics.

    But the self-discipline that will be required is pretty extreme. I would be very interested in seeing what you have to post here after a year of following your program.
  5. Mar 7, 2015 #4
    Why not try some modules with the Open University? Or buying some undergraduate introduction books?
  6. Mar 7, 2015 #5
    There are a lot of experiences which a private teacher will not give you. You may be able to do classwork, but that is not the fun part of physics, not in the slightest. By learning on your own, you will miss out on being able to do research and design experiments yourself. You'll miss out on awesome discussions with other classmates, which helps a lot more than you'd think. This is just my opinion, but if you can only do 1-2 hours per day on math or physics, why not take a class at a university? Maybe not for the earlier courses, since learning calculus and general physics is not so bad, but a lot of later classes (quantum, advanced E&M) can really benefit from a discussion. Just a thought.
  7. Mar 7, 2015 #6


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    Education Advisor

    I can spend 2500 hours working on my running, but that doesn't mean I'm going to win an Olympic gold medal when I'm done. However, if I spend 2500 hours working on my running, it seems reasonable to assume that I would be a much better runner by the time I'm done. The same would be true of math and physics as well. You can't really reduce these things to a raw number of hours.

    You say you want to specialize in theoretical physics (astrophysics/quantum). Astrophysics and quantum physics are two very different fields of physics. Both fields have theorists and experimentalists. Regardless, when first learning physics there really is no such thing as specialization. The physics curriculum is pretty standardized until the later grad school level.
  8. Mar 10, 2015 #7


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    Gold Member

    You could certainly find an online class with an open ended completion time ie the class has a certain amount of time to finish but is often 6 months or so. The University of Austin, Tx has some online or distance learning classes in Math and Physics that allow you about that type of time frame (if you need it). You can certainly wrap up a class in less time.

    If you are financially stable, you would then benefit from actually being able to measure your progress, getting college credit and quite possibly graduating with a BS in the future. Something to consider.
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