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This may be an unusual question: I have soft question on how to finalize my course plan in my senior year. Here's a brief background:

I am an Economics and a Mathematics major who has been taking a number of physics courses, and I wish to attend graduate school in physics. I am currently enrolled in 4 physics courses, along with an additional non-physics course. One of these courses is a graduate course in electrodynamics, covering potential theory, magnetostatics and EM waves. If I keep all these 4 courses, I'll graduate with 13 physics coueses. After taking a year off, I'd like to apply to a theoratical physics program.

I'm thinking of the dropping the electrodynamics course and going with the 4 courses: the non-physics one and general relativity, quantum optics and quantum information. I'm also informally studying some pure math with an instructor, which I continue to do over the next 1.5 years, as I eventually wish to specialize in a theoretical concentration. My concerns are:

Given I am studying material for which I am not getting any credit (self-studying), should I consider dropping the course on electromagnetism. For one, will it hurt my chances since I'm not a physics major and I'll only have 12 courses. The reason I wish to drop the course is because I'd rather first study ordinary and differential equations outside of class (can't take a course) and then study E&M properly.

The reason I'm asking this question because as you can see due to unfortunate circumstances, I am emphasizing self-studying material outside of the class the way I wish to study it, and which sadly isn't done in most classrooms. Case in point, studying pure math with the math instructor. But I'll hopefully get a letter from her to take that into account.

Given my slightly weird preferences (I suppose), should I consider dropping the course based on the aforementioned concerns. I'm not sure if this decision can come back and haunt me. Or to put this in another way: should I be focusing more on studying material outside of the class in my last semester, or is that a futile exercise that won't help me much -- ergo, I should sit tight and take the physics course.

I hope the question isn't out of context. Any and all advice would be appreciated.

  • Not directly answering your question, but does your current institution offer independent study? Your situation might be strange but the institutions I have been part of have always had a mechanism to give course credit for sufficiently substantial work outside of normal coursework. Besides that I think your question might have too much personal level details to really be on topic here, see the "specific situation" clause here. – Bryan Krause Jan 27 '17 at 17:42
  • There are also a lot of questions that have content related to yours, even if they are not exact duplicates: here, here, here – Bryan Krause Jan 27 '17 at 17:47
  • Also here and here – Bryan Krause Jan 27 '17 at 17:47
  • @BryanKrause Yes, we have independent studies. The pure math instructor, with whom I am studying, said as long as credits aren't an issue, it shouldn't be an issue if you enroll in an independent study or not (I presume she said that because I told her I'll be interested in getting a letter from her anyway). So I have decided not to enroll in the independent study and hope her recommendation letter, rather simply a Pass or Fail grade for the Independent study listed in the transcript, will do the trick. – Junaid Aftab Jan 27 '17 at 17:48
  • See some of the questions I linked to, even if the direct questions aren't what you were wondering about there is a lot of less-specific advice in the answers. At face value, I'd have trouble thinking there is a significant difference between having 12 vs 13 classes in physics when it isn't your major, but I am not in physics and have no idea what the expectations are for coursework prior to enrollment - sounds more than sufficient to me if you have covered the material you will need for your research, but again, I'm not in physics. – Bryan Krause Jan 27 '17 at 17:53

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