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I am just curious as a non-US person:

how does undergraduate physics course progress in U.S. colleges?

Do they go right into classical mechanics books, or do they teach introductory courses first, then specialize on classical mechanics, electrodynamics etc. in the second year?

First-year, second-year, third-year distinction would be much appreciated.

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closed as off topic by Qmechanic, Ron Maimon, Manishearth, Waffle's Crazy Peanut, Sklivvz Dec 27 '12 at 16:04

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You can get this information usually by looking at the physics department website of the U.S. college in question.

Here is how it worked for myself: Newtonian Physics & Basic EM -> Modern Physics (an overview class), Experimental Physics, Quantum Physics (bad naming here, really should be something like QM I), Classical Mechanics + Electives (e.g. Computational Physics) -> Quantum Mechanics, Classical Electrodynamics, Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics + Electives (e.g. Elementary Particle Physics)

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and you finished all of them in three years? Wow.... Somehow curious why classical mechanics is not taught with Newtonian physics.. Isn't classical mechanics only Newtonian + special relativity? –  Racab Town Aug 10 '12 at 11:49
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A BS at a U.S college is usually 4 years, not 3. Furthermore, I left out a good number of other classes for brevity and because I can't remember them. Course naming conventions at many colleges are terrible. Classical Mechanics here is really more like "Theoretical Mechanics". It's the course where you are introduced to the Langrangian formulation of mechanics and the use of tensors. Special Relativity is first introduced in Basic EM, but it comes up so often that almost every course has some overview of it. –  mcFreid Aug 10 '12 at 13:22

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