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What should i do

  1. Jan 27, 2008 #1
    i am going to finish my high school.can i do my bachelors in aeronauticl engineering in a recognized university in my country and latter apply for masters and phd in theoretical physics in an american or british university or do i have to my bachelors in theoretical physics also?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2008 #2
    You could certainly apply, but it's unlikely that a standard aeronautical engineering program would prepare you for graduate level physics (theoretical or otherwise). If you want to do physics, why not just do physics?
  4. Jan 27, 2008 #3
    I would agree. If you are planning to get a masters in physics, why wouldn't your undergrad major just be physics?

    What career are you planning for?
  5. Jan 27, 2008 #4


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    I agree with the above posters. If you are planning to go to grad school for physics, it's probably a better idea to get a physics bachelors degree. While engineering involves a lot of physics, you are not necessarily going to cover the fundamental physics undergrad courses you'll need for the Physics GRE and grad school, such as:

    Classical Mechanics
    Quantum Mechanics

    Yes, I'm sure you'll have exposure to the topics in an engineering program, but I can't say that you'll cover each and every one in the same way a physics major would.

    For example, I'm sure aeronautical engineers need to know ALOT of classical mechanics for their work, but do they study the Lagrangian/Hamiltonian approach to Classical Mechanics, a very important theoretical approach that any physics graduate student would be expected to know? Also, how much quantum mechanics is covered in a aeronautical engineering program?

    My point in bringing all of this up is that, yes, aeronautical engineering involves a lot of physics, but there are many areas of physics that are not important to aeronautical engineers that are very important to physics students applying to graduate school. I think this may be hard to realize for someone just out of high school.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2008
  6. Jan 27, 2008 #5
    But you can take them as your electives, as many physics classes as you can. Also another option during ugrad is to take your humanities/social sciences courses during the summer or during winter break, leaving room for the physics classes intended for physics majors that you wouldn't take as a AE major.
  7. Jan 27, 2008 #6


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    At this point, you are basically double majoring. If the OP wishes to do this that's fine, but it definitely wouldn't be easy.
  8. Jan 28, 2008 #7
    well to tell the truth the situation is very stupid for me my parents are forcing to do bacheloers in any eng because its a matter of prestige and money. because eng are better paid my family expects me to support them , but i want to be a theoretical physist even if i have to starve. i discussed my situation so that you all can advice me better.
  9. Jan 28, 2008 #8
    Don't let your parents tell you what to do?
  10. Jan 28, 2008 #9
    Is there someone (a teacher perhaps?) whom your parents respect who can also support your desire to go into physics? Someone who can say "Abdul's talents will be wasted if he becomes a mere engineer"?

    If your parents are paying your tuition they may feel that they should be able to dictate what you study. If you respectfully decline their financial support and borrow money for school then you have the freedom to succeed or fail on your own dime.

    You may also wish to point out that PhD programs pay a salary.
  11. Jan 28, 2008 #10


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    While your parents may be paying for your schooling, it is still YOUR schooling. Remember that. Your parents I'm sure want you to be successful and just care about you and your well being. Have you expressed to them clearly that you do not want to go into engineering?
  12. Jan 29, 2008 #11
    is it possible to do a bachelors in eng and then do masters and phd in theoretical physics. any eng?
  13. Jan 29, 2008 #12


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    This question is actually meaningless, because the obvious answer is of course it is possible. But then, so is a broken vase assembling itself back into its original shape when you throw the broken pieces onto the floor. What you should ask is how LIKELY is it for something like that to occur.

    While this test may not be applicable to you, especially if you're not furthering your education in the US, it is still a good zeroth-order check. Read this thread:


    It is the most concrete test you can do yourself, and it is certainly better than any hand-waving answer that you could get.

  14. Jan 29, 2008 #13
  15. Jan 29, 2008 #14
    I think this is taking QM a bit too far, but your point is understood. :tongue:
  16. Jan 29, 2008 #15
    Ed Witten got his bachelor's in history and he is now a highly acclaimed theoretical physicist. However, unless you're the next Ed Witten, you might want to consider majoring in physics.

    As others have suggested, you could major in engineering and take some physics courses on the side. I would recommend the following in addition to the standard physics 1&2 courses.

    Contemporary physics
    Electrodynamics (beyond what is covered in physics 2)
    Statistical Mechanics
    Condensed Matter physics
    Optics, lasers, and microscopy
    Analytical Mechanics

    You should also take a circuits and electronics course if you are not required to take such a course in your aerospace curriculum.

    I am double majoring in EE and physics, but I am taking an extra year to do it (most single major engineering students I know finish in 5 years anyways). I know the way engineers approach solving problems is vastly different than the way physicists approach problems in the typical curriculum. For instance, EEs rely heavily on Laplace transforms and s-domain analysis to do circuits problems whereas physicists tend to be turned off by such methods. Perhaps this is because you lose a bit of physical insight if you work in the s-domain. Also, engineers (particularly in control systems) will even attempt to do some mechanics problems solely in the s-domain. In addition, a physicist will be exposed to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, whereas I don't think any engineers learn about, unless they take a specialized graduate course or something (correct me if I am wrong).

    There will certainly be things you will learn in aerospace engineering that you will never cover in physics, and vice versa. Most physicists have a very superficial knowledge of fluid mechanics and aerodynamics, for instance, whereas an AE will have very thorough knowledge of such subjects. However, a physicist will have some knowledge in QM, stat mech, condensed matter, etc whereas an AE will have no knowledge here. An AE will learn thermodynamics (and probably fairly thoroughly) from an engineering standpoint, but this is very different from the way a physicist will learn it. One point of view is not harder or superior than the other though...the two viewpoints are just geared toward different goals.
  17. Jan 29, 2008 #16


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    It isn't QM. It's statistical mechanics.

  18. Jan 29, 2008 #17
    Uh, right, my apologies....well, I think this is taking statistical mechanics a bit too far, but your point is understood. :tongue:
  19. Jan 29, 2008 #18
    so can anyone suggest an eng which may help me comparitively more than any other eng to study theoretical physics
  20. Jan 31, 2008 #19
    Any undergrad engineering major is going to teach you a little physics. But that's the point that everyone is trying to make, a little physics.

    I would not suggest getting an undergrad degree in engineering and than getting a masters in physics, again, not unless you want to study and teach yourself physics on your own.

    Try mechanical engineering or electrical I guess?

    Either way, you're not going to learn the same physics in one class that you will in the other.
  21. Feb 1, 2008 #20
    well i just boght a university level physics book and have started to to learn from it but actually i am looking forward to study in usa as the universities there offer double majoring. am i right?
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