Physics PhD: Too Many Courses?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the amount of physics courses required to obtain a PhD in physics and the excitement of taking them. It is mentioned that not all courses are mandatory and there is not enough time to take every single course offered. The conversation also mentions that a lot of physics courses are optional and can depend on the individual's career goals. The conversation ends with a discussion about the courses offered at the University of Washington and how they may not be a representative sample of what is actually available to choose from.
  • #1
bennington
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Too much physics!

I was reading the physics courses http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/courses/courses/index.htm#Physics", and boy, I was shocked. If I were to get a PhD in physics, would I have to take that many courses?
 
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  • #2
so much physics, so little time!
 
  • #3
Definately not. One usually takes from 3 to 5 courses per semester, for 6 semester, than you get your BA degree. And after that, much less courses per year on average.
 
  • #4
That is a complete list of all courses offered by MIT's Department of Physics. Not all are mandatory, and there isn't enough time to take every single course and to study every single area of physics in great detail. But getting a PhD does require you to know a lot of stuff. By that I mean you will eventually read a lot of stuff on your own and learn a lot outside of your courses.

However, I never thought of physics courses that way, even during my undergrad i was EXCITED to finally take some courses I found interesting (even though I had a lot of required courses).
 
  • #5
You can't get TOO much physics ;-)
 
  • #6
You'd better do it now, before physicists discover even more physics for you to take.

You think Einstein had to take Modern physics or Quantum Mechanics? Nope. So, the sooner you get it over with, the less you'll have to learn.

EDIT: Looked over the course list. It's not really that bad. Especially since some of them are "repeats" (same title, different year). And like others have said, a lot of those other courses are simply optional depending on what you want to do later in your career. I wouldn't take, for example, statistical physics in biology. I just don't see myself doing biology. It makes me squeemish. :( But instead I would take say the theory of solids classes.

Here is a list of physics classes offered at UW:

http://www.washington.edu/students/crscat/phys.html

A lot of those are graduate level, and a lot of those are total BS classes, like Phys 215 "A Way of Knowing.", so we would't be expected to take them.

The general list of classes you need to take to graduate with a BS degree, though, isn't that bad:

http://www.phys.washington.edu/bsrequirements.htm
 
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  • #7
Those catalogs also tend to end up bloated with courses that are offered once in a while, and some of them are annually, and some of them are targeted largely at non-physics majors...it's not really a representative sample of what actually ends up being available for you to choose from. Or of what you're expected to learn.
 
  • #8
what is the point of this thread ?
 

Related to Physics PhD: Too Many Courses?

1. What is the purpose of taking multiple courses in a Physics PhD program?

The purpose of taking multiple courses in a Physics PhD program is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles and theories of physics. These courses also help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as prepare them for research in their chosen field.

2. Are there any specific courses that are considered essential in a Physics PhD program?

While the specific courses may vary depending on the university, there are some core courses that are considered essential in a Physics PhD program, such as classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and statistical mechanics. These courses cover the fundamental concepts and theories of physics and are necessary for building a strong foundation in the field.

3. Is it possible to specialize in a certain area of physics while still taking a variety of courses?

Yes, it is possible to specialize in a certain area of physics while still taking a variety of courses. Many universities offer a range of elective courses that allow students to focus on a particular area of interest within the field of physics. Additionally, students can also choose a research topic within their chosen area of specialization for their PhD thesis.

4. How many courses are typically required in a Physics PhD program?

The number of courses required in a Physics PhD program may vary depending on the university and the specific program. However, on average, most programs require students to complete around 8-10 courses, with some additional seminars and workshops. Some universities may also have a comprehensive exam or qualifying exam as a part of the course requirements.

5. Can a student transfer credits from a previous degree towards their Physics PhD program?

Yes, it is possible for students to transfer credits from a previous degree towards their Physics PhD program. However, the transfer of credits is subject to the university's policies and the discretion of the program's faculty. It is recommended to discuss this with the program coordinator or advisor before enrolling in a program to determine if transfer credits are allowed and what courses may be eligible for transfer.

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