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Is it reasonable to do this program in three years?

  1. Aug 16, 2012 #1
    I am an undergraduate student in mathematics and physics starting on my third and final year in the Netherlands. The system here appears to be quite different from the US system from what I read on other pages. Basically, my impression is that we have to (or choose to) do more courses in a shorter program of three years of undergraduate study (although we do study our subject exclusively). I am starting on my third year after a few weeks with a delay of two courses. I am wondering whether it is reasonable to do the entire program in three years.

    So here is roughly the program I chose:
    (Note that some first-year 'courses' were smaller than a semester course)

    1. Year 1
    - Mathematics: Introduction course (mainly on proofs), Calculus (single variable, multivariable, vector calculus), Linear Algebra (vectors and matrices as well as abstract lineair algebra on vector spaces, inner product spaces), Intro to Real Analysis (single variable)
    - Physics: first-year physics covering mechanics, electrodynamics, waves and optics, special relativity. Experimental course (all year round), course on Mathematica, course on error analysis.
    2. Year 2
    - Mathematics: Probability theory, Fourier Series, (Ordinary) Differential Equations, Multivariable Real Analysis, Intro to Topology
    - Physics: Quantum Mechanics I, Statistical/Thermal Physics I, Electrodynamics, Classical Mechanics, (Philosophy of Physics)
    3. Year 3
    - Mathematics: Functions and series (Real Analysis II?), Group Theory (year 2 courses), Elementary Number Theory, Functional Analysis, Differential Geometry, Complex Analysis, (History of Mathematics?)
    - Physics: Quantum Mechanics II , Statistical Physics II, Classical Field Theory, Quantum Matter
    - Undergraduate Research Project (one semester)

    Somehow this list somehow seems slightly too long, but so far I have done and passed every course I listed under Year 1 and 2. There are quite some students at my university taking so many (or even more) courses. I started off with a slight delay and couldn't cover everything up, so I am taking Real Analysis II and Group Theory, which are second-year courses, next year.

    It is not obliged to finish one's Bachelor program within three years and I know quite some people who spend 4, sometimes 5 years on their undergraduate program (although they tend to take more courses). However, the government has now introduced new proposals to discourage people to study longer than the prescribed number of years (3), including fines and so on, so I am planning to finish in three years. Since I want to pick up as much as possible in these three years, I am planning to take 8 courses next semester, which seems a bit insane (the standard is 4 courses). If I don't make it, I will drop courses. It does seem possible to take some third year courses in my Masters program, so I was thinking about which courses to drop first. I thought History of Mathematics could be skipped if needed, while Functional Analysis and Differential Geometry could also wait till graduate school. I am not sure how these courses build on previous courses. I managed to do Multivariable Real Analysis without taking a course on Functions and Series considered as Real Analysis II, and did Intro to Topology without any knowledge of Group Theory (which wasn't all too convenient at times). I am self-studying Abstract Algebra at this time, and hope to be able to do some more preperation before I start on my 8-course semester. I would be grateful for any advice on how to prepare!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2012 #2
    It looks like a perfectly typical curriculum to me but of course whether it's actually do-able depends on how many assignments the instructors give..
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  4. Aug 16, 2012 #3
    Year 3 looks like a bit much.

    You want to do a good job in your senior research and that may not happen if you are focusing on so many courses.
  5. Aug 18, 2012 #4
    I want to start a graduate program on theoretical physics after I finish. Which courses would be most important? I heard differential geometry (and geometry in general) is used quite extensively in theoretical physics.
  6. Aug 18, 2012 #5
    The needs of theoretical physics vary extensively.

    Of general applicability are probability theory & statistics, PDEs, ODEs, complex analysis, and group theory for physicists.

    Many other courses may be useful depending on what one ends up doing, differential geometry, real analysis, pure algebra, topology are not as general as the above mentioned courses.

    Schools may also have specialized courses, like a course on asymptotic series... that'd be useful if offered.
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