1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Math in Physics Graduate school

  1. Apr 12, 2013 #1
    How do courses work in graduate school? I'm in undergrad right now and even though I am a physics major, I am mostly free to take whatever class I want to. However, I know in graduate school one is supposed to be becoming more specialized so how does taking non-physics classes work in graduate school? Also, if I'm interested in particle physics, what courses can I look forward to taking?

    I am asking this question because I am also quite interested in math and CS, and would be willing to take graduate level courses in these classes (primarily math) in order to understand and apply the physics I learn.

    Will I have time to take math classes/other electives in graduate school? Or will I just be too busy?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2013 #2
    For particle physics, you will most likely be taking courses in :
    -Quantum Field Theory I
    -into to high energy physics (particle physics)
    -Relativity I (dont think its required, but good to take)
    -statistical mechanics or advanced statistical mechanics (depending on experience, but optional)

    Later courses can include:
    -Quantum Field Theory II
    -Advanced Particle Phenomenology
    -Many Body Theory
    -Black holes and cosmology or General Relativity
    -String Theory

    Many of these courses are optional, and really depends were you want to specialize in. QFT is a must!
    And in regards to your other questions, I'm not entirely sure.
     
  4. Apr 14, 2013 #3

    eri

    User Avatar

    All physics grad students take 1-2 semester of classical mechanics, thermodynamics, E&M, and quantum mechanics at the graduate level. What else you take depends on what you're interested in and what your school offers. Smaller departments don't offer as many courses. But just because they don't have a course in it doesn't mean you can't find someone to help you with an independent study, and that's what you'd be doing for your masters and PhD theses anyway.

    While you can take courses in other departments, they may or may not count towards your PhD (depends on how related they are according to your department) and you can only take them if you meet the required pre-requisites and the classes aren't full of grad students in their own department.
     
  5. Apr 14, 2013 #4
    As far as physics classes go you'll pretty much have to take the standard graduate level courses classical mechanics, E&M, quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics, which pretty much everyone has to take. After that for particle theory QFT is a must, not so sure about experimentalists but it can't hurt them either. Courses on particle physics and general relativity should also be great (perhaps optional though).

    As far as courses in other departments go, keep in mind that especially for math, even though the topic itself of the class might be useful (i.e you might hear about courses in representation theory, lie algebras, manifolds, differential geometry etc) the way courses are conducted and the kind of thing they like to focus on, is not what you as a physicist will find useful. Plus they're highly time consuming courses too. So I would only take them if you have the time. Otherwise active auditing (i.e still making an active effort to learn the material while not paying too much attention to issues mathematicians like but physicists don't) and learning from "for physicists" type books should be good enough for the purpose of physics.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook