I am in the second year of my Ph.D. in computational Physics I have already fulfilled the course requirement according to the university doctoral school. However, I am interested in two more courses that are being offered this semester. I am planning to take them. I mentioned these two courses to my advisor and he said that they could be helpful for my research. He said that it's up to me if I want to properly register for these courses or just sit in class without registration and learn the course content.

I am wondering what is the impact of having more than required courses on a Ph.D. transcript? I will be learning these courses in either way. If I don't register, I would not be bound to take final exams (a little relief). But if having more courses on a Ph.D. transcript shows a positive feature (for a job or postdoc position), I would not mind taking final exams.

  • In my dept, you have to stay registered for a certain number of credits (for me, it's 3, or one class), although they did offer to make a class up for COVID. Do you have to take at least one class anyway? – Azor Ahai -him- Aug 20 '20 at 18:43
  • @AzorAhai--hehim in my dept, we have to register for at least 12 credit hours. I can take as many credit hours and I want for Doctoral Thesis. So, I can fulfill the credit requirement from Thesis. – Luqman Saleem Aug 20 '20 at 18:47
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    When hiring post docs, I don’t even look at the courses on the transcript. Even if I did I would have no idea if you took extra or not. – Jon Custer Aug 20 '20 at 18:47

Once you have your doctorate people are very unlikely to care which courses you took to get there. Especially in academia, though there might be some value for a specialized industrial job.

The trick, however, is whether sitting in will give you enough incentive to learn the material enough to benefit your research. Probably it will, based on your question, but some people need a goad to work hard.

If the knowledge will be helpful and you can put in some effort, then I'd suggest just sitting in (or auditing) would be best. You don't want additional courses to actually interfere with your research.

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