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Taking third-year physics courses during senior year

  1. May 18, 2013 #1

    I'm an undergraduate double-major, Physics and English literature, going into my senior year. I chose/declared both of my majors during sophomore year, having entered school with a vague intention of majoring in linguistics (which soon dissipated). As such, I'm about a 'year behind' in terms of core physics courses--i.e., I'll be taking E&M I, Thermal I, Mechanics I, & Adv. Quantum I in the fall of my senior year, and will only be able to take the second-semester portion of two out of these four. Upper level courses I'd like to take--astrophysics, general relativity, intro to nuclear & particle physics--are pretty much out of the question.

    I will be able to graduate with a B.S. in physics, provided I pass all of my courses, at the end of senior year, but I feel like I will still be very shallowly-prepared for a physics graduate program. I'm not sure when I would even apply, since I certainly won't be taking the GRE until I've completed the aforementioned third-year courses.

    I'm thinking of doing an extra semester of undergraduate courses after I graduate, but I'm not sure how that would look on an application. I was wondering if anyone had any advice for someone in my situation, looking to be admitted into a physics graduate program.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2013 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    What is your alternative? Skipping these courses? That sounds unwise.
  4. May 18, 2013 #3
    I don't really see an alternative. I guess I was wondering whether postponing applying to graduate school for a year after I receive my undegrad degree would negatively impact my application.
  5. May 18, 2013 #4


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    Classical mechanics, E&M, quantum mechanics, and thermo / stat mech are the core curriculum that grad schools expect. Stuff like nuclear, particle, solid state, etc. are basically optional at undergraduate level. If you know what field you want to do in grad school, then it makes sense to try to work a course on it into your schedule. Otherwise I wouldn't stress out over it. Just do as well as you can in the core stuff.

    Have you looked at the sample exam on the GRE web site? That will give you an idea of the level of knowledge you need for it.

    Do you have or will you get any research experience?
  6. May 19, 2013 #5
    I just looked at the sample exam--it doesn't look too terrible. I think I should be ready for it by next spring (though I'm not sure where I'll pick up optics. E&M maybe?).

    I will hopefully do some research this summer, but won't get another chance until spring of my senior year, which is why I might not want to begin applying to schools until after I graduate.
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