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After math and physics majors, what should I do?

  1. Sep 11, 2009 #1
    I'm a recent physics major and a recent math major. I wanted to do both because I've always wanted a graduate study in Cosmology and for some reason I though it was better to do both. Right now, I'm seriously inclined to study theoretical physics instead. However, I read in this forum (or another forum, maybe) that cosmology is an under rated study.

    I've been "forced" by society and economic pressures (pressures done by me on me too) to explore financial aplications of these disciplines. I've been exploring a bit. Right now I'm in a great actuarial sciences symposium and it is generally very BORING and sometimes it seems unethic in many aspects. There are few interesting topics and I've been thinking that I could enter this world and find something interesting, but I'm not sure of that.

    So my questions are:

    1. In general, what should a mathematician which is also a physicist do?
    2. Has anyone experienced this? What did you do?
    3. What is your advice, in general?

    I would really apreciate your answer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2009 #2
    Hey, another physics+math major. Let's see if I can help.

    1.) "Should" implies some moral or utilitarian obligation. There are a lot of things you can do, and you should pick something that you like which will also provide you with a stable income. Your math major opens up some doors for you. I found that I was able to apply for consulting jobs with various companies such as Accenture, Target, etc., as well as some smaller, local companies. Your physics BS by itself isn't all that employable, but you could try applying for engineering jobs. It'll be an uphill battle, since you need to convince them to take you over someone who actually has an engineering degree. But it's possible to find an engineering position. If you want to go the industry route, your school should have a job search service that you can use.

    Alternatively you can go to graduate school in either physics or math. If you want something mathematically intensive, you can go into mathematical physics in a math department, or theoretical physics in a physics department. These are very different disciplines: one is decidedly math, and the other is decidedly physics. But they both will utilize your math skills.

    2.) I did. I applied to jobs and grad schools at the same time. I ended up going to grad school.

    3.) In short: do what you like, but only if it'll get you a job. The problem with stuff like cosmology is figuring out what to do with your PhD. Getting a tenure-track faculty position is extremely difficult. You might end up working in the financial sector after all. I ended up going to grad school and then figured out that job prospects for physicists aren't that great (at least not if you want to actually do physics for a living). But hey, it never hurts to apply.
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