1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Want to pursue a masters in physics

  1. Oct 1, 2015 #1
    I have always wanted to study physics. When I was in high school, my guidance counselor told me it would be a waste of time as I would not get a job. So I settled for another major. I have a job and I'm getting a masters in communication (another field that catches my interest). Now I want to pursue what I wanted before, as my interest has not changed. I have been studying independently but as I work full time have not learned everything formally. I have 2 years to finish this masters and I wish to pursue a masters program in physics when I am done with this masters. What courses , topics should I know to meet the requirements for a physics masters? Could someone give me an order from the most rudimentary subject I should know to the upper level things I should know. I want to use these 2 years wisely.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There is a "canonical" undergraduate physics curriculum that consists of classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. Some examples of text books at the appropriate levels: Marion and Thornton for classical mechanics, Griffiths for electromagnetism and quantum (yes, he wrote very good undergraduate level books on both these subjects), and Reif for statistical mechanics. I always wanted there to be some one book that would have everything, but there really isn't. However, after you have been through these subjects once, the Compendium of Theoretical Physics by Wachter and Hoeber is really helpful to work through. In addition, this book goes on into lots of graduate level stuff.
  4. Oct 4, 2015 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There is something I don't quite understand here, or at least, if I understood this correctly, it is very puzzling. Let's see if I got this right:

    1. You don't have an undergraduate degree in physics. In fact, your undergraduate degree is not in a STEM subject.

    2. You are now pursuing a Masters degree in Communication and have 2 years to complete it.

    3. You want to use these 2 years while pursuing this Masters degree to also learn all the necessary undergraduate physics and all the necessary mathematics.

    Did I get this right?

    What you never clarified:

    1. How good is your mathematics background? You may think you only have to study physics, but the tools you need to do physics is equally essential, so you can't just do physics. The work load is more than you think.

    2. Were you intending to enroll in a proper course and get official credit and grade for the physics classes? If yes, do you think you are able to handle all the work load and the difficult physics classes, considering that you'll be taking many of them simultaneously? If no, then what official credential will you use when you apply for a Physics Masters degree program to show that you have the knowledge for such a program?

  5. Oct 4, 2015 #4
    Another thing I'm missing here is your location.
    I can tell you that for example in Belgium you will need to do a bachelors in physics or mathematics first. (That's the shortest path)
    If you already had a bachelors in engineering (as an example), you'd need to take a year for getting up to speed, e.g. more quantum mechanics, Lagrangian mechanics (probably). In my current institution it seems the curriculum for such a year is built on a per-student basis. It entails at least 54 credits (almost a full year).

    Secondly, what do you hope to gain from this endaveour?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook