Math Physics Double Major

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Math Physics Double Major

Postby Narius » Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:49 am UTC

So as of right now I'm majoring in physics at my university, with a declared minor in mathematics. I've been considering double majoring in math and physics, instead of major-minor. I was wondering whether you guys who have perhaps been there or have any input whether the extra time as an undergrad student would be worth getting the double major, or if it'd be better to keep it like I have and finish in the usual 4 years. If it helps, I do plan on going to graduate school, though I'm not sure if I'm going to do a more academic, research-based track or if I'm going to get an industry skill (like an engineering or applied physics masters). Also, my interests include materials, nuclear/particle physics, and quantum stuff just seems intriguing (only a freshman, so these are purely interests, I really don't know much about any of the fields.)

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Re: Math Physics Double Major

Postby psychosomaticism » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:06 am UTC

I actually had this same problem, in that I am a biology major with a minor in psychology, and was looking into double majoring. I went to talk to an advisor, and the answer I got was that whatever I did was ultimately up to me, but I really needed to figure out where I wanted to go instead of loading up on courses. I decided to stick with the psych minor as it was, as I couldn't see myself working in psychology.

For your situation, I'd say stick with the minor in math, unless you definitely want to combine both. It will be more work to double major, and not necessarily to your advantage; depending on where you're going, especially if grad school, it might not matter if you have a math major or minor if your field is physics. Besides, you get a lot of math through physics courses, no? Yes, it's important to have credentials, but it's also important to know what you need to know to get what you want to get, and you decide what it is you need.

I would advise going to an advisor, it helped me out, as I was pretty stuck on this topic too.

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Re: Math Physics Double Major

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:58 pm UTC

My thought would be ask about how well math and physics overlap at the higher level. Depending on your interest in math, it may be more reasonable to stick with the minor if it isn't going to be used in your physics related stuff.
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Re: Math Physics Double Major

Postby Omegaton » Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:48 am UTC

Since you're a freshman, you still have a couple semesters to go if you even wanted to just complete the minor, nevermind major, right? Keep thinking about whether or not you want to double major, but consider doing research. Higher academia is about publications, not grades, and if you have a publication as an undergrad you're better off than someone who's done no research and has a double major, all other things being equal. Besides, research is a heck of a lot more interesting than taking classes.

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Re: Math Physics Double Major

Postby doogly » Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:00 am UTC

Right now I am in a PhD program doing mathematical physics. As an undergrad I did the math minor. I take a lot of math courses now, mostly for fun.
You can probably keep your options open for a while, until you get a better idea what the programs are like. The calc sequence and differential equations in math are necessary for physics anyway, and a course in complex analysis would also be a given. The first time there is a choice that might matter is taking the more abstract linear algebra rather than the simpler matrix arithmetics one they pitch at engineers. And if you have the calc sequence, diff eqs, complex and lin alg, you still have a long way to go, but probably enough to make a well informed decision.
Finishing on time is good though, so I'd plan for a way to double major in 4 years. It's easier to decide you want to take less math than it is to decide you really want to squeeze in some bonus courses when time is running low.
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