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Junior undegrad considering particle physics

  1. Oct 24, 2011 #1
    Ok. So I literally just created this account, but I need to ask you all something. I'm a junior in undergraduate college. I am pursuing a double major in English-Literature, and Philosophy. I have always been interested in physics, specifically astronomy, astrophysics, particle physics, etc. However, I'm wondering about my future in such a field since I have not taken physics classes since high school. The highest levels of math that I have had are analytical calculus, Calculus I, Calculus II. I have taken AP physics at high school and calculus based physics at my university, but I had to drop the class at my university because I ended up having to take a medical leave that semester. Here's the thing. I love theorizing, and I understand both the math and theory behind physics pretty well. For the most part I saw my shortcomings I'm math, became lazy and didn't want to actively work to get better, and now I can't stop asking myself why the hell I didn't suck it up. So I guess what I'm saying is, I'm not fighting whether or not I would be capable of doing it, rather I'm fighting from the perspective of A) I will have been in college for 5 semesters when December rolls around B) College is expensive
    Thus, I want to do it, and will do it regardless, but I'm wondering if I could jump from my current undergrad to striving for a grad degree in physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2011 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm afraid not. A graduate degree in physics builds on an undergraduate degree in physics. It's possible, albeit difficult, to be accepted if you are deficient in one or a few courses, but you are talking about being short the entire undergraduate degree. The path you are on now won't take you to where you want to go.
  4. Oct 24, 2011 #3
    That's fair. Honestly, I didn't expect anything different. However, let me add something new to the mix. I am considering dropping a major and picking up a physics minor which I could do, and still graduate on time.

    The minor would include: Calc based Physics I, II and III, mathematical methods of physics, analysis of calculus I and II, Introduction to Astronomy/Astrophysics.

    Actually, the only thing short of what is considered "majoring" in physics by my university is the absence of, one semester of theoretical mechanics, two semesters of general chemistry and one semester of physical chemistry. So basically 4 classes that I would have to take an extra semester of undergrad in order to complete.

    So would the minor be enough of a basis to go into physics at a grad level? I have a pretty good grasp of chemistry, or at least the levels that the major requires. It's all pretty basic chem honestly. I understand I wouldn't have taken classes like Intro to Quantum mechanics or Electromagnetism if I get a minor, but would that be an issue since I'm going to learn most of the specialized high level topics like electromagnetism in grad school?
  5. Oct 24, 2011 #4
    Thanks again for your help and comments!
  6. Oct 24, 2011 #5


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    Those courses are taught at a higher level in graduate school than in an undergraduate setting. Professors assume that you have already taken those undergraduate courses, and go faster and further into the material. These are not subjects that you can learn at one go; that's why students cycle through them at least three times, first in introductory courses (your Physics I-III), then in upper-level undergraduate courses, and finally in grad school.
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