During a UG physics degree , what other certificate/diploma courses can i simultaneously pursue which would be of use in a physics career ?

I hear many colleges offer such optional courses along with main course.

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    Depends exactly which career you are looking for... – Solar Mike May 3 '18 at 13:44

I strongly agree with user153812's practical answer. But in addition, does your university have "liberal arts" or general education or breadth requirements? If not, consider taking some courses there.

Humanities, arts, and social science courses tend to help you understand society and what it means to be human. Practically, they help you develop skills in writing, other communication, and critical thinking. They can also develop soft skills like empathy and better communication across differences. If you want to be an academic, then improving these skills will be extremely helpful. (Writing and communication are skills that I do not think anyone can "max out" on; there's always room for practice and improvement.)

These communication and soft skills may be especially useful for physicists. I've admired many physicists--especially those dealing with concepts farther from our lived experience, like astrophysicists or particle physicists--for their ability to explain developments in physics in clear, tangible terms. ("Here's how they set up the gravitation wave detector. See how we're on an L-shaped hallway? Imagine if we were sending light down each branch of the hallway...") I suspect that especially as one is requesting funding or trying to convey the importance of one's work to non-physicist colleagues, these skills matter tremendously.

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  • My university only allows one main degree course at a time , but allows for optional certificate courses. – theenigma017 May 7 '18 at 17:33
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    Excellent answer, the point about oral/written communication can't be over-stressed. – AppliedAcademic May 8 '18 at 9:28

This answer is from the opposite end; I studied engineering and took some additional physics courses on the side. Through those, I developed some idea of what undergraduate students in both disciplines might typically lack.

Physics is incredibly broad, and you may be able to choose meaningful courses only when you have some idea of what field you want to specialised in, or what kind of job you would like.

Nevertheless, one skill that will not go waste is being able to write good, efficient programs. All you need is a computer and an internet connection, there are fantastic courses online today. A lot of open course ware exists with various certification options. What's most exciting is that many programming courses are tailored towards research and data science; both of which you are certain to use at some point. I don't think ASE encourages recommendation of specific courses, so I will refrain from that; but if you look around you will certainly find interesting courses.

In addition, if you are looking at applied physics fields, I would recommend two courses from the engineering side- basic electronics and strength of materials. These two will be useful when you want to design your own experimental setup, and having prior knowledge will put you ahead of the typical undergrad student.

Finally, statistics and probability courses will certainly be part of your regular course. If you, however, feel that these aren't rigorous, you may consider doing some advanced courses. It could be very useful when dealing with large sets of experimental data.

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