Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Majoring in Physics

  1. May 15, 2006 #1
    I applied for Computer Engineering and now decided that I want to major in Physics. I have a sincere and passionate interest in how the universe works etc... I have the mind for it and love to really think deeply. I am just asking how difficult and interesting the courses are. What math do you take? Is it mostly theories? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I suggest you look at the curriculum provided by your college or university. It should tell you exactly what courses are required for their physics degree.

    - Warren
  4. May 15, 2006 #3
    The main pillars of almost all undergrad physics programs will be:

    Classical Mechanics
    Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
    Quantum Mechanics
    Electricity and Magnetism

    For math you will need at minimum Real Analysis, Vector Analysis, and Linear Algebra (not in the same depth that a math major would cover these, but a decent working knowledge, with more emphasis on the first two). Complex Analysis, and Tensor Analysis/Differential Geometry would also be useful, but are more often taken in graduate school, I believe (most of our students don't take them, though more have taken differential geometry than complex analysis).

    Some schools will have an advanced laboratory course (ours is called Quantum Lab I-III) where you learn the process of conducting real lab research (error bars, significance of results, etc). I've been told that most undergrad departments don't have this and its usually done in graduate school (told this by seniors who found out from other students in their REUs as well as some of our newer faculty hires).

    Personally I find all of my physics courses fascinating. Not so thrilled with my math classes (bored out of my mind by them actually), but that may be because (for some reason) we have to take the engineer's math classes, rather than the math majors' math classes. Some classes are more difficult than others. Our electronics course was a nightmare. I studied 15+ hours per week for that class alone, 30+ hours the weeks of exams. It was awful. Starting with Thevenin's Thm. and single battery DC circuits and going all the way to TTL digital logic circuits in 10 weeks is not fun. In contrast, my Stat Mech course is a blast.

    Hope this helps some. If you have any other questions, just ask.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook