PhD math/applied math/theoretical physics

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In summary: If you're specializing in theoretical physics at the PhD level, you will almost certainly be required to take a lab course. In summary, at PhD level in the US, research may involve doing experiments, but a lab component is not mandatory, and most universities only require a lab course for all graduates, not just those specializing in theoretical physics.
  • #1
coverband
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Is pure mathematics the only science subject which does not have a practical component at PhD level?

I.e. would applied maths/theoretical physics have a practical component at PhD level (would there be labs associated with doing a PhD in a.m./t.p.)?
 
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  • #2
I don't think there are lab components to most PhD's in theoretical physics.
 
  • #3
I agree with cristo. As far as I am aware, the only 'lab' component that you *may* encounter during an App. Math / Theo. Phys. PhD would be computer simulations/ numerical analysis.
 
  • #4
My experience (US) is that many PhD programs require a lab course for all graduates, whether in theory or experiment. (Experimenters have to calculate, so fair is fair). I suspect that schools that encourage early specialization probably have a different set of requirements.
 
  • #5
Vanadium 50 said:
My experience (US) is that many PhD programs require a lab course for all graduates, whether in theory or experiment. (Experimenters have to calculate, so fair is fair). I suspect that schools that encourage early specialization probably have a different set of requirements.

Oh, I see that the OP was probably asking about the coursework component to a PhD in the US. Since there's no coursework element to a PhD in the UK I sometimes read 'PhD level work' as 'research' and forget about the coursework element in other programmes, hence I didn't see how theoretical research could involve lab work. I see that isn't the question: my mistake!
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50 said:
My experience (US) is that many PhD programs require a lab course for all graduates, whether in theory or experiment. (Experimenters have to calculate, so fair is fair). I suspect that schools that encourage early specialization probably have a different set of requirements.
I had no idea that US PhD programmes require a lab component. How long does a typical PhD programme run for in the US?
 
  • #7
4-7 years, average 5-6. Usually there is 1-2 yrs of coursework focused work, followed by 3-5 years of research focused work, though people often do a little research during their first years and take the occasional course during their later years. Less than 4 is rare, as is more than 7.
 
  • #8
I know that many, if not all, US physics doctorate programs do not require a lab component for anyone specializing in theoretical physics.
 
  • #9
Chicago requires a lab component for all of its PhD's.

Considering that at most universities one doesn't have to commit to an area of specialization until the second or third year, but that coursework occurs in the first two years (more or less), I don't even see how it would work to let theorists avoid lab classes.
 
  • #10
I was also hoping to get into theoretical physics but wanted to avoid taking a lab course. I know some schools like Chicago require it but I also saw a few that didn't.
 
  • #11
I think it's probably a mistake to decide as an undergraduate what will and will not be useful to you in graduate studies. I'd really be hesitant to select a university based on what you can get away with not learning.
 

Related to PhD math/applied math/theoretical physics

1. What is the difference between a PhD in math, applied math, and theoretical physics?

A PhD in math typically focuses on pure mathematics and theoretical concepts, while a PhD in applied math involves the application of mathematical theories and techniques to real-world problems. A PhD in theoretical physics combines mathematical concepts with physical theories to understand the fundamental laws of the universe.

2. What are the career options for someone with a PhD in math, applied math, or theoretical physics?

Individuals with a PhD in math can pursue careers in academia, research, or industry. Those with a PhD in applied math can work in fields such as engineering, finance, and data analysis. A PhD in theoretical physics can lead to careers in research, academia, or in industries such as aerospace and technology.

3. How long does it typically take to complete a PhD in math, applied math, or theoretical physics?

The length of time to complete a PhD in these fields can vary, but on average it takes 4-6 years. This includes coursework, research, and writing a dissertation. However, the time may also depend on the individual's research topic and progress.

4. What skills and knowledge are required for a PhD in math, applied math, or theoretical physics?

To pursue a PhD in these fields, it is important to have a strong foundation in mathematics and a passion for solving complex problems. Knowledge of programming languages, data analysis, and critical thinking skills are also essential. Additionally, strong research, communication, and time management skills are necessary for success.

5. How do I choose a research topic for my PhD in math, applied math, or theoretical physics?

Choosing a research topic for a PhD in these fields can be a challenging decision. It is important to consider your interests, strengths, and future career goals. Seek guidance from your advisor and explore current research in the field to find a topic that aligns with your passions and has potential for contribution to the field.

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