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Courses Which courses should I take again to prepare for graduate school?

  1. Jul 9, 2005 #1
    I'm planning on entering graduate school to obtain a PhD in elementary particle physics. I graduated in 1996 with a physics major. I have NOT worked in this field since that time - I now have a J.D. instead.

    I need to refresh my math and physics skills to take the GRE. I would imagine a year or two of courses before I'm ready to take it. I need to know what people would recommend to brush up on skills. Obviously, I do not want to start with Classical Physics I all over again.

    Here's what my undergrad experience consisted of:

    Classical Physics (I, II, and III plus labs)
    Applied Math for Physics and Engineers
    Quantum Mechanics
    Electronics & Instrumentation (plus lab)
    Experimental Modern Physics
    Electromagnetic Fields
    Classical Dynamics
    Linear Algebra
    Differential Equations

    and others I can't recall now.

    I've never had a thermodynamics course, and I need to brush up on math skills, so those are areas I will probably focus on again. What else can people recommend?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2005 #2


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    Gold Member

    Real & Complex Analysis, Functional Analysis, Statistics, Probability, Computer Programming Langauge (C/C++, Fortran), Discrete Math, Topology, Abstract Algebra, Partial Diff EQ

    Heck whats the point of going to grad school if you dont plan on making a difference, right? Might as well take more math courses in Differential Geometry and Nonlinear Dynamics
  4. Jul 9, 2005 #3
    To prepare for grad school, it will be nice to learn some complex analysis, abstract algebra (group and representation) and differential geometry (tensor calculus and differential forms) in particular if you want to do theoretical elementary particle physics. Numerical analysis is needed for simulation work; at the very least you may need to write a code using the Runge-Kutta methods.

    You will need some training in statistics to do experimental high energy physics. Programming (C/C++, Matlab, Mathematica) is very important too. Labview is pretty useful if you want to do experimental work. LaTeX is handy for typesetting articles and notes.

    For the physics GRE, what you have learnt as an undergraduate is sort of enough. However, a substantial part of the exam tests topics like statistical mechanics/thermodynamics and solid state physics. Not knowing these topics means that you probably can't answer around 10-15 percent of the questions.
  5. Jul 9, 2005 #4
    alligator...your the lawyer dude who posted about deciding on phd right? if so ...coo hope you enjoy your endeavours into physics.
  6. Jul 10, 2005 #5
    Yep, I'm the "lawyer dude". I'm considering about two years on the third and fourth year classes again as a refresher. That way I have most of my foundation intact.
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