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Late start

  1. Dec 25, 2014 #1

    I am a "late-bloomer" who recently decided I want to pursue a degree in physics with the goal of eventually getting a phd in astrophysics. A little about me, I am 41 and a professional with a young family. I do not have any academic pursuits other than my own personal desires (at least at this stage) and intend to obtain this at a slow pace. My hope is to be able to satisfy at least some of my requirements at home through online courses.

    Has anyone out there done this (or something similar) already, or is in the process?

    Any words of wisdom?

    One specific question I came across in searching online courses was algebra-based vs calculus based physics. If I intend to pursue a degree in physics, is it essential to take the calculus based? Has anyone had any experience with any online courses? Two I am looking at currently are UNC http://fridaycenter.unc.edu/cp/catalog/physics.html#phys102 [Broken] and Michigan State http://www.pa.msu.edu/academics/online-courses

    Thank for any advice!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    If your long range goal is a PhD then you must take a sequence of math that includes Calculus. You really can't do advanced physics without it. Everything is based on the principles embodied in Calculus.
  4. Dec 25, 2014 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Yes. Absolutely.

    You do realize how long this will take, right? Typically, it's a decade between starting undergrad and finishing a PhD. If you take one class a term plus one in summer, you'll progress at maybe 20% of the rate of a traditional student. If you can double that up, it's still maybe 40%. Also, part time PhD positions are rare - in part because one's classwork "expires" 10-15 years after taking them. Part time, you can get to a point where you never finish.
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