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MechE to math or physics

  1. Aug 18, 2009 #1
    hiya guys,

    i'm a first year mechE student. I have a strong interest in theoretical physics, especially mathematical physics, and pure math as well. by the end of four years of mechE i will have done calc 1,2,3, diff. eqs, numerical analysis. thts all the math we will be doing. now i was wondering if it would be possible for me to go to grad school in either of those fields.please tell me my options. like if i take some upper-level math courses at some uni and then apply?? or get a gud grade in gre of either of those two subjects?? or do u think it would still be impossible. ne and all help is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2009 #2
    Just a quick question, why are you majoring in ME if you plan to pursue physics and/or math?

    What is the required physics for ME at you school? At mine, only the first year physics sequence is required for ME majors.
  4. Aug 18, 2009 #3
    In order to go to grad school in math or physics, the subject GRE's are important, but with a mechE degree you may have a hard time to prepare for them. This will pose a strong limitation to your application.

    If you really want to pursue grad school in math or physics, your best option would be to major in that subject as an undergraduate. In other words, change your major.

    The curriculum differences between mechE and physics are very significant. However, it would be relatively natural to go into physics in graduate school, provided you took a few important physics courses as an undergraduate. I would say 2-4 physics courses (beyond your ordinary requirements) would be all that you need.

    The curriculum differences between mechE and mathematics are even more substantial. You would probably need an extra 3-5 courses (beyond ordinary requirements) to be prepared for math graduate school.

    Note that you could acquire this knowledge outside of coursework, but you would still have to prove your expertise to the graduate admissions application, for example, by scoring well on the subject GRE in physics or math.
  5. Aug 19, 2009 #4
    i love physics but want to do something practical to secure my future.... i have always loved classical mechanics..... well not as much as relativity or QM but still its quite awesome.... so ME is not really a turn off for me..... i like it alot.... but after this i want to on move to my real passion of mathematical physics....

    yes i agree getting into math grad school is a little too much to ask with only four courses, so lets forget about that.... the courses labeled purely as physics courses for ME students are only first year classical mechanics and electromagnetism.... but other than that we have two or three courses of thermodynamics, applied as well as theoretical.... similarly fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and of course a lot of mechanics..... we also have to complete 2 or 3 electronics courses..... so i think the only thing lacking is modern physics..... i think one course in SR and one in quantum mechanics will suffice to get me up to the level of a good physics grad... that is of course assuming a great GPA in all other "physics-y" courses.... right???

    now after a good strong study of relativity and QM do u think physics GRE will be very much difficult to handle??

    and do u think it would be totally crazy to think tht with a gud GRE and a mechE degree, one could get into a physics program of unis like UCLA, princeton, stanford, mit etc....??
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
  6. Aug 20, 2009 #5
    hello guys..... somebody plz help me out.....
  7. Aug 20, 2009 #6
    I've posted this link a number of times before in similar threads.


    "Ramamurti Shankar is John Randolph Huffman Professor of Physics at Yale. He received his B. Tech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and his Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from the University of California, Berkeley."

    Shankar has a popular Quantum Mechanics book that you'll see discussed on this forum frequently.

    His undergrad is in Electrical Engineering instead of Mechanical Engineering, but at least it can offer some hope.

    If you really want to do grad school in Physics, I would make sure you take as many additional math and physics courses as possible.
    I'm sure everyone will have differing opinions, but I would try to take at least the following courses if they're not in your degree program.
    Complex variables/analysis

    Quantum Mechanics

    In addition to that, I'd make sure to take a few of these as well...perhaps talking to an advisor about which of these they would recommend.
    Analytical Mechanics
    Kinetic Theory
    Some type of Optics/Waves course
    Advanced Calculus (analysis)
    Abstract Algebra
    Differential Geometry
    Regression Analysis
    Advanced Linear/Matrix Algebra

    By the time you've taken 2-3 additional math courses and 3 additional physics courses you've almost covered a physics major....but Physics grad school is competitive and you're going to be behind others even with those additional courses.
  8. Aug 20, 2009 #7
    thank you so much..... i searched and found one of the threads where you had replied to an indian student..... i'm pakistani and the educational setup here is identical to wht he said.... so thanks a lot man!!!
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