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What are the math requirements for B.S in Physics?

  1. Jul 6, 2010 #1
    I'm now going into my Junior year of college looking to major in Physics. The last math course I've completed was Calculus 3. I read through the course outline and it listed that a the last lower division math I'll need to complete before I start their Physics program. It looks like Diff. Eq is apart of the Mathematical Physics course listed. I'm interested to know what other math classes would cover the rest:

    Mathematical Physics:
    prereq: Mathematics 250A (Calculus III). Survey of mathematical techniques required for upper division physics courses including differential vector operators, complex variables, partial and ordinary differential equations, special functions, Fourier transforms and series, matrices and operators, probability and statistics.

    Classical Mechanics:
    Classical mechanics and associated mathematical and numerical techniques: Newtonian dynamics; Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics.

    Modern Physics:
    A survey of modern physical theories, their experimental foundations and applications: special relativity; quantum physics of atoms, molecules, and nuclei; introduction to solid state physics.

    These of course aren't all of the classes, but I hopefully someone who can shed some light on this subject. I'm a little confused though because I thought I needed a Linear Algebra and formal ODE course at least. Anyways, any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2010 #2
    Calculus (single & multivariable), Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations are the usual ones. Numerical Analysis and Functional Analysis are also useful. Different schools have different requirements, so check with your department.
  4. Jul 7, 2010 #3
    At my school the bare minimum was calculus 1 and 2, multivariable calculus, differential equations/linear algebra (usually taught as a single class, though not always), and one upper level math class. We used a lot more math than that in physics class, but it was all taught to us. I learned PDEs and (hard) linear algebra from quantum, ODEs from mechanics, and boundary value problems in E&M. But the bare minimum actually wasn't so bad.
  5. Jul 7, 2010 #4


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    Be glad that your school offers a course in mathematical physics. If not, you will have to take a lot more math courses.

    I strongly suggest that you first take that mathematical physics course first. Your school obviously knows what tools you need to have before you take advanced physics classes. If you think that the mathematics that you learned out of that mathematical physics course isn't sufficient, then talk to your advisor and see if he/she recommends taking specific math courses.

    On a side note, if your math-physics class uses a text other than https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=379895&highlight=boas" get that book anyway. You'll be glad you did.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
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