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Is My Schedule too Crazy?

  1. Jun 18, 2010 #1
    Hey everyone, sorry in advance for the lengthy post (at least vertically). In a nutshell, I've already received a bachelor's degree in political science, but have decided to go back to undergrad to receive a physics degree since it's my passion. Since I'm already behind schedule, I'm hoping to receive my degree in 2 years, and I'll be able to do so if I follow the following schedule... but is it too demanding/too much to handle?


    General Physics II
    Calc III
    Differential Equations
    Computer programming (learning basics of C++)


    Intermediate Mechanics
    Intermediate Modern Physics
    Intermediate Lab
    Mathematical Physics
    Thermal Statistical Physics


    Intermediate E&M
    Quantum Mechanics I
    Advanced Lab
    Particle and Nuclear Physics
    Linear Algebra


    Quantum Mechanics II
    Advanced Dynamics
    Complex Analysis (Or another useful math class)

    Also, on a side note, I'm contemplating a degree in math as well, which would require basically taking 3 math classes in each summer following these semesters... any thoughts on that? I'm eventually hoping to go to grad school. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated... thanks. Also keep in mind that I'm hoping to find research positions with professors or something similar, which would take up some of my time as well.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2010 #2

    In terms of academic load, the schedule is fine.
    But I don't think that having Quantum Mechanics I along at the same Particle Physics is a good idea (this depends on the content of the Particle Physics lecture), as typically QM I is a prerequisite for particle physics.
  4. Jun 18, 2010 #3
    The only way you can really find out is by trying it. Some people can handle that much, some people can handle more, some people need less. There's no 'one-size-fits-all'.
  5. Jun 18, 2010 #4

    Gib Z

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    Personally I took a heavy load this semester and unfortunately I didn't do as well in each subject as I wish I did, or know I could have if I took a smaller load. Going through the Degree early is nice, but you shouldn't harm your potential marks in any way, especially if you want to get into grad school.
  6. Jun 18, 2010 #5
    The second Fall semester looks like it might be a little crowded. Is it possible to move the Linear Algebra up to a summer or winter semester? I don't know about your school, but at mine, E&M and Quantum are two of the most difficult subjects offered.
  7. Jun 18, 2010 #6


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    Maybe I'm missing something. That looks like a couple of standard years out of a physics degree. In two of the semesters you've only listed four courses, so presumably you're planning on filling out the spare time with some electives.

    Also - two years? Unless your system is different, an undergradute degree is ususally awarded based on completed credit-hours of course work. Only two years of a standard course load won't be sufficient to graduate. Hence it appears that you're assuming you will receive credit for some courses taken during your previous degree - I would urge you to make absolutely sure that you can do that.
  8. Jun 18, 2010 #7
    The only part that seems slightly crazy is doing calc III concurrently with ODEs. Never heard of that being done.
  9. Jun 18, 2010 #8

    Gib Z

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    Yea, I thought it was odd doing EM and QM just as you learned Linear Algebra.
  10. Jun 18, 2010 #9
    don't get burned out.
  11. Jun 18, 2010 #10

    Yes I could take Linear Algebra during the Summer before these two classes... which I was thinking about doing because I heard that you should have a good knowledge of Linear algebra before taking quantum. This is just a hypothetical schedule.... i could move some things around here and there... but not much because some of these classes are only offered in spring or fall, and so i have to take them then.
  12. Jun 18, 2010 #11
    Since I've already received a degree, I have completed all necessary electives and general education courses, and thus can just focus on physics classes. This schedule that I posted is sufficient to graduate with a BS in physics. I don't really care that much about anonymity, so if it makes any difference, my first degree is from University of Florida, and I'm going to attend Florida State University for physics
  13. Jun 20, 2010 #12
    If possible, although it's not a big deal actually, differential equations is more useful in physics than linear algebra (although linear algebra does have applications to physics, diffy equations is even more so).
  14. Jun 20, 2010 #13


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    How can you have classes that are counting for two degrees? That doesn't seem right!
  15. Jun 20, 2010 #14
    Major in mathematics AND physics, or mathematics and computer science, or chemistry and physics, or english and journalism, or....
  16. Jun 20, 2010 #15
    I don't completely agree with this. At the undergraduate level, you can get through upper division classical mechanics and electrodynamics and thermodynamics only having a vague notion of what a differential equation is. Knowing how to check an ansatz is all you really need. On the other hand, doing well in quantum mechanics is very dependent on your knowledge of linear algebra and being very comfortable with almost everything you'd learn in a linear algebra class. You can get through electrodynamics not knowing what a system of first-order ODEs is, but you're not going to get through quantum mechanics if you understand what eigenvectors are.

    Sure, differential equations are used in more classes than linear algebra, but the majority of the differential equations you'll run into in undergraduate level physics classes are ones you would be able to solve after week 1 of a differential equations class.
  17. Jun 20, 2010 #16
    I don't know about the OP's school, but the University I attend has the following policy:

    From: http://towson.edu/physics/physics/PHYS_SECDEG.asp
  18. Jun 20, 2010 #17
    The idea is that with two degrees you should know as much as if you combined two persons who took degree A and degree B. Both of these could have taken the same gen ed and such, so the only difference is the actual degree requirement which is why it isn't strange at all to have transferable credits.
  19. Jun 20, 2010 #18
    I don't think it's a good idea to take particle and nuclear physics together with QM (also move Linear algebra up, because that's needed in QM). Both particle and nuclear physics lean heavily on QM. Depending on how far the course goes in particly physics you will encounter some quantum field theory, so then you'll need a good understanding already of non-relativistic QM.

    For nuclear physics this is not such a problem. You'll only need basic QM and that you'll learn in a few courses allready.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  20. Jun 20, 2010 #19
    You may be right that I'd be better off taking this course later, but according to my university the only prerequisites for this class are Differential Equations and Introduction to Modern Physics. Here is the description given by the school: "This course examines the properties of nuclei and particles, nuclear and particle decays, the Standard Model, and accelerator and detector techniques."

    And to those who were wondering how credits from one degree transfer to another degree... it's pretty self explanatory. For example a person who is majoring in Art history and a person who is majoring in Mathematics are both required to take a certain amount of elective and general education classes. Since I've already completed all those classes, I only have to complete the required physics classes in order to receive a bachelors degree.
  21. Jun 20, 2010 #20
    It is obviously an overview course since otherwise you would never combine nuclear and particle physics in a single course. Also I think that your last sentence refers to nuclear rather than particle physics...
  22. Jun 20, 2010 #21
    I've corrected it.

    If it's an overview course, then it's not a problem. But I would think that an overview is already included in Intermediate modern physics?
  23. Jun 20, 2010 #22
    But why else would you combine the topics? I think that it is more like a nuclear physics course with an introduction to particle physics since I think that they don't do particle physics much at all in any general modern physics course. Doing particle physics properly is a tough course in itself and on a whole different level than nuclear physics so why would anyone ever come with the idea to combine those topics in one course unless you mostly do the particle physics that relates somewhat to nuclear?
  24. Jun 20, 2010 #23
    We did a fenomenologic part in our general modern physics course. Next were two seperate courses on nuclear physics and particle physics. Although it seems highly unlikely that they would combine those two in one course indeed.
  25. Jun 21, 2010 #24
    I suppose the curriculum is going to vary from school to school, but here is my experience.

    ODE is absolutely essential for all non-intro physics. There's nothign wrong with taking ODE at the same time as Calc III (that's actually how OU has it set up). It would be extremely helpful to complete Linear Algebra before Quantum Mechanics though, as it is vital (though at OU, Linear Algebra isn't required for physics; I took it as part of my math major. I don't know how anyone else survived quantum without it).
  26. Jun 22, 2010 #25
    Yeah I took ODE and Calc III together; also Linear Algebra on top of these two. It did not conflict at all, got A's on all of them, it was an enjoyable semester having three maths.
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