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Need input on junior/senior course plans

  1. Feb 21, 2015 #1


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    Hey everyone. I'm in my last semester of community college, and I'm getting ready to transfer to UIUC in the fall. I'm looking ahead to my courses for junior and senior years, and I'm wondering if what I've come up with is a reasonable goal.

    I'm planning on doing a dual bachelor's in physics and math, and I will be transferring in as a junior. It's going to take 5 semesters after transferring to finish. I intend to go to grad school for physics; most likely something in the area of particle physics.

    Fall 2015 -

    PHYS 225 - Relativity and Math Applications (covers Special Relativity and mathematical methods in physics)
    PHYS 325 - Classical Mechanics I
    MATH 347 - Fundamental Mathematics (basically an intro to proof writing and upper level math)
    MATH 416 - Abstract Linear Algebra
    CS 101 - Intro Computing for Engineering and Science

    Spring 2016 -

    PHYS 326 - Classical Mechanics II
    PHYS 435 - Electromagnetic Fields I
    PHYS 401 - Classical Physics Lab
    MATH 441 - Differential Equations
    MATH 357 - Numerical Methods I (hybrid math/computer science course)

    Summer 2016 -

    MATH 461 - Probability Theory
    PHIL 110 - World Religions

    Fall 2016 -

    PHYS 436 - Electromagnetic Fields II
    PHYS 486 - Quantum Physics I
    PHYS 419 - Space, Time, and Matter - ACP
    MATH 442 - Introduction to Partial Differential Equations

    Spring 2017 -

    PHYS 427 - Thermal and Statistical Physics
    PHYS 470 - Subatomic Physics
    MATH 444 - Elementary Real Analysis
    MATH 417 - Intro to Abstract Algebra I

    Fall 2017 -

    PHYS 487 - Quantum Physics II
    PHYS 403 - Modern Experimental Physics
    MATH 423 - Differential Geometry
    MATH 448 - Complex Variables

    This covers the full physics curriculum, plus an elective (subatomic physics). The double bachelor's requires me to have 30 distinct credits for the second degree (math being the second degree), which is the number of credits listed for math courses here. A lower level Diff EQ course and an applied linear algebra course (as opposed to abstract linear algebra) are required for my physics degree. The higher level courses will cover the physics requirement, but I'm not sure if the credits for those two courses will count toward both degrees. In the event that they don't count toward it, I was thinking about adding these in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017:

    MATH 450 - Numerical Analysis (hybrid math/computer science course)
    MATH 432 - Set Theory and Topology

    Even if I don't have to add two additional courses to get my 30 math credits, I may want to add these two simply because I'd like to take them. That's up in the air at this point though.

    Does anyone have any input on my course selections? Does this look like a reasonable schedule? Are there any essential courses that I'm missing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2015 #2


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    Looks pretty good! I don't see any optics courses though, but I seem to remember hearing once that in the US they tend to not be offered as undergrad courses?

    Also, it really depends on the kind of physics you want to do, but I regret not doing group theory or complex analysis in my physics degree.
  4. Feb 24, 2015 #3
  5. Feb 24, 2015 #4
    Odds are you'll be an experimental particle physicist if you become a physicist at all, so more programming, especially C++, is probably better.
  6. Feb 24, 2015 #5


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    I'm actually covering a little bit of optics this semester (I'm in Physics III), but that's obviously at a much more introductory level. An upper level course in optics isn't typically a required course for a physics major in the US, although it is typically offered as an elective.

    I'm taking a complex analysis course. It's called 'complex variables' instead, but covers the same topics. As I learn more about how the field of physics research actually works, I'm quickly realizing how important programming is going to be. I'm probably going to try to squeeze at least the Numerical Analysis course in. Although I'm wondering if there are other courses that I should really try to do that don't necessarily involve numerical computations as the main theme.
  7. Feb 24, 2015 #6
    A handy strategy may be to try to get a position in an experimental particle physics lab, as you'll definitely learn how to program and it's probably the only way you can get real world experience with particle physics as an undergraduate.
  8. Feb 24, 2015 #7


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    I'm actually doing a Department of Energy internship at Fermilab this summer in Accelerator Engineering and Technology, so hopefully I get a bit of experience with programming there.
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