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Any Triple Majors?

  1. Feb 19, 2014 #1
    As I'm a comp sci/math major I see a lot of overlap in classes for math and physics majors at my school. I am thinking of a genetics major as well since I'm already following the genetics curriculum, just at my own pace. I do plan on going to grad school and the later graduation date doesn't bother me at the slightest. I'm curious to whether there are any triple majors out there and if not are you willing to pick one up? Also how does it look to grad school admissions committees because I know as long as you have legitimate research experience as well as grades and recommendations your in the door.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 20, 2014 #2
    Today's world is not friendly to the generalist. Take it from me.

    I've delved heavily into EE, CS, physics, math, music, teaching/tutoring, and art (and numerous other less serious interests, such as psychology and evolutionary biology) and it has been a difficult path. My two degrees (B.S. and Ph.D) are in math, but I have minors in computer science and electrical engineering, and got close to either taking enough classes or at least learning the material for degrees in EE, CS, and physics.

    You'll find that the specialists can usually beat you. There's some purpose to being a generalist, but because it is not generally not valued in today's intellectual culture, you really have to swim against the stream. It's harder to produce original research if you don't specialize because you don't have enough time to reach the frontiers. You can spread yourself too thin.

    For my part, though it's not entirely the result of being a generalist, I have abandoned my career in mathematics. I hope to write down a lot of my thoughts on put them online, so that people can gain something from them, but my contribution is not going to be to produce new results, just a synthesis of my own ideas and other people's ideas about the most intuitive/enlightening way to think about existing results.
  4. Feb 20, 2014 #3
    I have a B.S. in biochemistry and also in pharmacy&chemistry, and now I'm a freshman in physics pretending to continue studies later to get a PhD in high energy physics (theoretical).

    After I majored in biochemistry (two years ago) I worked in a research laboratory (one year ago) and publish a paper (yeah, just one). Then I started working as a pharmacist (for local pharmacies in my country) during the weekends so I could earn some money (steel doing this) to pay my third major: physics.

    Finally, I also feel a bit curious about how this will be seen by grad school admissions committees but I'm not too much worried because I'm busy studying and trying to enjoy learning. In fact, this last "thing" is what I think pushes me to study all what I can, because I'm very curious about nature and I'm amazed about how it works.
  5. Feb 20, 2014 #4


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    Majoring in multiple subjects is a good idea if you seriously want to keep multiple options open for graduate school. Otherwise, I don't see much of a point. Unless you're doing 12 years worth of undergraduate coursework, you're getting a 2 for 1 or even a 3 for one deal and the cost is that you don't have the same opportunity to explore the sub-fields that single major students will have. Hence you'll have less information to make your choices for graduate school with.

    The last part of this statement makes admission to graduate school appear trivial, which it isn't. You need to reach a minimum standard to apply, but that's not the same as being admitted. Graduate school admissions are competitive. And meeting the bare minimum with course requirements is not going to make you more competitive. A double major may help however if you are interested in doing an interdisciplinary project.
  6. Mar 18, 2014 #5
    Thank you guys for your input I appreciate it. Anyone else have any insight?
  7. Mar 18, 2014 #6


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    Double major + a minor is the most I would consider doing. Triple-majoring is a waste of time IMO. In the time it would take to get 3 majors you might almost have a Master's already.
  8. Mar 18, 2014 #7
    That's true. IMO you're in school for the diploma with hopes of landing in industry or you truly have an interest in your respective field of study and don't care about a graduation date but fully understanding what you're being taught/self-taught.
  9. Mar 18, 2014 #8


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    I agree.

    If you can manage to do a triple bachelor in a reasonable amount of time (maybe 5-1/2 years?), then it probably won't hurt you.

    If you spend 7 or more years, it will definitely hurt you.

    Can't really see how it will help you. It makes you look like a "professional student".
  10. Mar 20, 2014 #9
    I ended up with three bachelor's degrees (didn't really plan it that way, just happened with the classes I took). It’s a bit different for me because my subjects were a lot more closely related than the ones you're talking about, but I doubt it had any impact on my graduate school admissions or anything else really.

    You had mentioned a later graduation date not bothering you, I would agree with the suggestions of not burning much extra time to do it.
  11. Mar 20, 2014 #10


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    Fully understanding a subject is not going to be possible in undergraduate anyway. It's like reading the first 10-20 pages of a book and then putting it down. The reason that it's acceptable is because the majority of jobs are only looking for people who have read the first 10 pages of the book, or less. "Full understanding" isn't going to happen until you pick the book back up and start reading it again. That means not spending 8 years in undergrad, and getting to grad school as soon as possible.
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