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Name vs curriculum

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:39 am
by Izaac
Hi there,

I'm a Physics sophomore, Frenchman. I am thinking of changing university next year, since my current university junior's program in Physics is not really attractive. (In case you didn't know, us Frenchmen DON'T have the possibility to choose our courses in university: there is a fixed curriculum and it's take it or leave it).

So, I have the choice between two (French) universities. The first one (Pierre et Marie Curie Univ.) is rather famous, 30th on the world THE ranking in Physics. Program covers 8 subjects, among others QM introduction, computing modelization and thermodynamics.
The second is an utterly infamous university (Le Mans Univ.). However, the programs covers 17 (!) subjects, among others 2 modules in QM, Nuclear Physics, EM waves guidance systems...

I've heard that the name of the undergrad university was rather important when applying for graduate studies. Do you think it would be worth choosing the second university, despite the fact that nobody in the US will have heard about it?

Re: Name vs curriculum

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:59 am
by midwestphysics
:lol: Infamous is not the word your looking for here, utterly unknown would have worked. Infamous isn't the opposite of famous. :D

I'd look into the setup and quality of the classes before you decide. In the U.S. you have to be careful because schools may list a series of courses like E&M 1 & 2 or QM 1 & 2, or wrap them all into one, don't know how it works in France. I know a lot of people here who had the series style at their undergrad and at mine they were combined, which I was told was a European or rather Russian style though I don't know if that's true. Essentially you covered 1 & 2 in one semester and at the end your brain wanted to explode far more than usual. So, make sure that when one school says 17 and another says 8 that they really are different and not just the classes sectioned off into pieces.

Re: Name vs curriculum

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:00 pm
by bfollinprm
I doubt the better known program has an appreciably less comprehensive physics program. Anyhow, as an undergrad you should focus on the core courses (E&M, Quantum, Mechanics, Statistical Physics) and mathematical tools (ODE's, PDE's, linear algebra, vector calculus, representation theory).

Re: Name vs curriculum

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:08 am
by Izaac
midwestphysics wrote: :lol: Infamous is not the word your looking for here, utterly unknown would have worked. Infamous isn't the opposite of famous. :D
That'll help, I'm taking my GRE next week... :roll:

Thanks for the opinions. Actually, it happens that the unknown university had indeed a more diverse and complete curriculum (e. g. they included Lagrangian & Hamiltonian in their Class. Mech. course; usually this is not taught at all here in France). In fact, it seems like it covered most of the French physics program, and a little more on top of that.
If you want a logical explanation, I can tell you that this unknown university's program was designed to be split in two years (year 3 first-half and 3 second-half), yet it was also possible to do it in one year (though, when I asked, I was told that, in the last 5 years, only 1 guy, a girl actually, managed to pass the two years at once; no mention of how many tried).

Anyway, I'm talking to the past because I learnt that this program no longer exists, and has been replaced by some kind of equivalent of Paris' program. Then, there is nothing to argue about any more, I'm going for Paris.