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If I liked E&M, what should I look for in a Grad Degree?

  1. Jun 11, 2014 #1
    So, I graduated last year and decided to spend the year working before applying to grad school. I'm trying to narrow down what fields I want to look at, so I'm collecting information. To that end, my current question is this:

    "What fields of physics, as common defined by grad-school program reference books, would involve E&M like math?"

    You see, out of all my classes during my Bachelor's, I enjoyed E&M the most. That, followed by Quantum, and finally Optics. Didn't like Mechanics too much. Quantum I didn't do too well in, but really did enjoy the the parts that clicked with me (Harmonic Oscillators!) Optics was an elective geared towards engineers and was pretty spoon fed, and of only mild interest.

    E&M though, I found mostly fun. I actually thought solving Laplace's Equation in 3D for fields was fun. I liked doing E&M, it was difficult, but fun. BEN ITOY!

    So, what fields of research, or grad programs, would you guys think would interest someone who likes E&M?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2014 #2
    Plasma (which is usually applied to fusion, astrophysics, electronics, propulsion or studied on its own) is very E&M heavy; pick up the first few chapters of a plasma book like Bittencourt or Chen and it's all single particle motion in lots of different electromagnetic field configurations leading up to combining this with statistical mechanics for large scale modeling.
  4. Jun 11, 2014 #3
    So, if I said that Nuclear Fusion, in concept, always interested me, would that be a good thing? The prospects on Nuclear Fusion aside.
  5. Jun 11, 2014 #4
    Well I did do plasma physic and fusion course and research work, but I'm just a new grad in basically the same position you're in. So take what I say with a grain of sold I suppose, but I would say yes to your question. If you really liked E&M I don't think you can go wrong with studying plasmas, issue with that would be more funding related depending on which you grad school you can get into.
  6. Jun 11, 2014 #5


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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  7. Jun 12, 2014 #6


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    Another idea to checkout is engineering electromagnetics, which includes things like antenna design and is an active field in academia and industry. Many EE departments have faculty in this area. Coupling this with expertise in RF systems, signal processing and/or communications systems makes for a very useful engineer.

    Perhaps optics/photonics is another area you might want to checkout?

    By the way, I studied plasma physics in grad school (in an EE dept) and found that industry at that time (late 90s) didn't have many positions that used that specialty. It did indeed use lots of EM and was great fun, though.

  8. Jun 13, 2014 #7
    Following up on jasonRF's comments, you could be a genuine rocket scientist if you chose to design ion rocket engines. Again, this is all about plasma and E&M physics. Now, all that said, employability in this field may be a problem in everything except perhaps RF systems.
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