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Anyone here ever do or is doing a double major?

  1. May 7, 2008 #1
    EDIT: oops, should this go in the guidance section?

    OK, so right now I'm signed up as a major in Literature/Writing. I haven't started yet, I start this fall and I'm doing my timetable right now.

    One of the requisites for the major is 4 non-arts classes. I figured since I've gotten to like physics and math so much this would be a perfect opportunity to actually take some classes.

    Since I didn't do math in high-school I had to speak with the Math dept. and show them that I've been learning it on my own and they said I can take these two classes that are linear algebra and calculus, but include one extra lecture a week that is intended for those who didn't do well at math on their last high-school year (it reviews grade 12 calculus/algebra and then goes into first year stuff, so they said that it's quite intense and I have to be sure I wanna take it)

    Anyway, I've been talking it over with my parents to try this out and that if I do well and can handle it, I want to find out if it's possible to do a double in literature and physics. I don't know if you're allowed to combine two subjects that are so different, I haven't asked yet because I'm still not sure, but I read the part about double majors on their website and some of the examples they give seem just as different (one of the examples was something like philosophy and computer engineering). or are most doubles expected to be in similar areas?

    has anyone here done or is doing a double major in two very different subjects? would you recommend it?
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2008 #2


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    I quit school to earn some money, and never finished my degrees, but I was running a double-major in philosophy and English literature, taking lots of extra classes on the side and keeping a very respectable GPA. It was far less of a grind than first-year engineering. Consider, though, that both of those majors were liberal arts tracks. It probably would have been a lot tougher substituting a math-heavy subject with lab-work for either major.
  4. May 7, 2008 #3
    Zoology and Fine Art, then worked in the Dept. of Psychiatry at a teaching hospital as a researcher
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  5. May 7, 2008 #4
    I am doing a double major, but they're kind of related:

    BSE (an education degree)major in chemistry and physics, but I'm also getting my BS in Chem, and a minor in philosophy.
  6. May 7, 2008 #5
    I did a physics major but I met all the requirements for a second major in English - except for a foreign language. I knew another student in engineering who double-majored in English and I had a really sharp English TA who'd done his undergrad in math and physics with an English minor.

    I really enjoyed my program. Physics and English complement each other well. I found that I enjoyed my physics homework more when I took one or two English classes - I had more "physics CPU time" to devote to each course. And doing the readings for my English classes barely felt like work, especially when I had three or four problem sets to gnaw through!

    I always knew I would continue in physics, but I'm really glad I had the opportunity to pursue literature as well. In both subjects I had some wonderful classmates and professors - and a few moments of spine-tingling clarity. Education in physics has given me a toolbox - and a sandbox the size of the universe. But English has left me a deep quiescent pool and I find the sandbox fits there easily enough.
  7. May 7, 2008 #6

    I'm graduating from highschool at June, and have enrolled into a state school. I've been interested in the sciences since I was 5 years old, and my interest in math peaked in highschool, purely because I was lucky enough to have a superb precalculus teacher. I thought chemistry was the "thing" for me, but after reading into physics and watching lectures (by Feynman), I got sucked into the dream of being a physicist. I pored through books about extradimensional space (Kaku--I'm sure I hardly understood the mechanics of what he was saying, but it inspired me) and read about physics in the atomic level, and the astronomic (with Hawking's writings about black holes). Finally, my school offered me an honors physics course in my junior year, and that also encouraged me to look forward to a life of eating and breathing physics.
    Then, it happened--AP Physics. I thought it was another step forward to what I wanted, but in actuality, I sort of regret taking the class. My teacher was very intelligent, but there was a communication problem--I never got comfortable with the way he taught it, and so one by one every student in my class fell asleep, and finally that light bulb on my head fell and crashed. I got uninspired, and now I'm doubting if I even love physics altogether. I'm still interested in math, but all that creativity I got from reading through physics books went into my writings. During senior year, English lit was the class where my mind finally unleashed. I loved analysing books, and writing about them.
    Now I don't know what to do. Should I consider doing a double major in english and physics, or is physics the past for me? I'm studying for my AP phys exam, and it seems pretty interesting, but after going through the class, it all seems impossible. I don't know if I fit in--or if I was born to do physics.
    What steps should I take in college (or in this summer) to figure out something through this mess? I'm not too worried about not having a career, and I expect to continue learning all my life. Maybe I'll go into teaching once I'm satisfied, but gaining knowledge is my means to fulfilling that lifestyle I want.

  8. May 7, 2008 #7
    I did mathematics and interior design. You can definitely do a double major in physics and lit, but it can become a grind as you go more advance in both majors.
  9. May 7, 2008 #8
    Currently going for a double in Mathematics and Lit. Loving every minute of it. If you have the talent and the dedication to do both, go for it.
  10. May 7, 2008 #9
    that's like becoming a monk because you had one bad relationship
  11. May 7, 2008 #10
    If you enjoyed reading Feynman, Kaku and studying on your own then keep with it. All you've seen is that you enjoy studying physics but not listening to lectures on physics. That's no real surprise, listening to a lecture is passive, a poor way too learn the material, and boring!
  12. May 7, 2008 #11
    Call me crazy, but....

    I got a head start after taking college courses in introductory physics and calculus while in high school, so I'm now at the end of my sophomore year in college and have nearly completed the requirements for both the Math and Physics major. I took quite a few AP's in high school (including AP German), so I got far ahead in filling humanities credits as well.

    Since I've also been continuing to take some German literature courses, my German professor convinced me that it'd be a good idea to study abroad in Germany, so I'm going to Freiburg starting in September and will be there for a year. Thus, I am also going to attempt a German major (yes, a triple major!).

    Finally, I love to write (a past time of mine), and a few of my short stories and poems have been published in magazines and a newspaper, so I was encouraged by my Poetry Writing professor to attempt an English minor as well.

    I have found that all of these things (Physics, Math, German, writing) are passions of mine, and it seems difficult to give any of them up. In fact, I have had to give one of my passions up! I absolutely love music. I play a variety of percussion instruments, and I absolutely love playing mallet instruments, like the marimba. So, I considered a music minor as well, but instead I am just staying involved by playing in the orchestra and percussion ensemble here at my school.

    If you have multiple passions, there shouldn't be any reason that you should give one up entirely to fulfill the other. If you like a lot of things, do 'em all! Just don't try to get yourself into too much trouble. It has been very enriching to have my mind doing so many different things at once, but it is very tiring sometimes. Be prepared for lots of work, but If you really love what you are doing you can stick with it.
  13. May 7, 2008 #12


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    The phrase jack of all trade and master of none comes to mind. With all these majors, there's no way to take all the courses necessary to be truly ready for grad school in one of them. Filling the requirements for the math and physics major usually doesn't require very many upper level classes leaving you with a shallow preparation in either math or physics. If you want to go to grad school in either, you'd be competing with people who've taken grad classes in their major since sophmore/junior year.
  14. May 8, 2008 #13
    It's not true that a double major leaves you unprepared for graduate work. I only took an extra semester to finish and I did all the courses required for the honours physics program at my university, plus a few extra physics classes that weren't required!

    The vast majority of undergraduates don't take graduate coursework. You're certainly not underprepared if you don't take a graduate course as an undergrad!
  15. May 8, 2008 #14
    I go to a small liberal arts college that has no graduate program. Except for astrophysics and solid state physics and one lab course, I've taken every other physics course my school has to offer. That is partly why I intend to go to Germany (to take courses that my school cannot offer me).

    I do, however, intend to go to grad school in physics.
  16. May 8, 2008 #15
    I was a double major of physics and philosophy. Having two majors of different origins is not that unusual. The key to college is to take the classes you like. I graduated with a physics degree but not the philosophy. I was only needing 2 more classes but decided to take some grad physics classes instead. It is important to complete one major, but after that it does not matter so much. Take the classes you are interested in if they add up to an additional degree or minor good, but if they don't you still had a GOOD college experience. When you interview for jobs or talk to people about your college experience you will have stories and classes you can feel passionate about.
  17. May 8, 2008 #16

    Chi Meson

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    I did English/Physics in college. The side bonus was I got to spend 5 years as an undergraduate!

    If you do not love physics, you should not be a physics major, but you do not know yet if you do or don't. My suggestion: do NOT take the credit for the AP class if you get it. Take the class at college that is for "freshmen physics majors." With AP under your belt, the class will be rather easy, and you will probably learn how to do all the same stuff again, but this time with calculus. Stay aware of all the new things you can study. Physics will only help you. Repeat: Physics will only help you!
  18. May 8, 2008 #17


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    When I was doing my double-major, I had to get my advisor's permission to exceed the normal course-load for the department, which I did every semester. He asked what I might want to do with my majors, and frankly, I didn't know because I was taking courses that appealed to me and thought that degrees in two subjects would be a pretty good way to get a second look at job interviews, anyway. When I told him that, he immediately added 3 "theory of education" courses to my already overloaded schedule, saying "You could fall back on teaching and you'll need these courses to get a teaching certificate. Just show up, act interested and ask a question once in a while." I did, and aced every one of them with no work. I used to use the courses as study halls, keeping an ear on the instructors, but getting other work done.
  19. May 8, 2008 #18
    First of all, I'm just extremely shocked at how quick these responses were to some random new member. I'm really humbled.
    To tell you the truth, I haven't really tested my potential. For sure I had those moments where I could take the pressure, but I guess I should be careful the way I do things in college. I'll see if I can take the stress.
    Talent? I think I'll need to use my freshman year in college to my advantage to figure out if I have either in those fields.
    I agree. I judge too quickly.
    Well, I like lectures, but with involved teachers. Okay, that's not a lecture, more of discussions, I guess.
    I like your idea. Though it is too late and go back and take classes, I might explore more. Maybe there's more to what I love to do.

    That's what my political science teacher told me when I approached her about this (earlier, I was also interested in Political Philosophy...)...but I guess i thought you needed be a major to actually experience the more advanced classes in that field. I'm definitely gonna take your advice, and that's why i enrolled in the school that I'm going to because it has a variety of classes (though a big disadvantage for me is the large student to faculty ratio).
    okie dokie! My Ap phys C class had hardly any calculus. Maybe deriving the formulas, but that's it. I'll consider not taking the credit, if I get it ( I hope I do get the credit though...I need it for something else).
    That's a good idea! I'm going to talk this over with my counselor, when I meet her. It's a good idea to have a fall back...I might also consider that when I take extra classes this summer.

    Wow, thanks for all that advice! Now I just have to get on planning all this stuff out, and it'll all probably work out. Again, thanks alot.
  20. May 8, 2008 #19
    If worst comes to worst, you can simply drop one of those majors and keep it as a minor. Just don't take on more than you can handle. Start small and as you become more mature, you'll be able to take more work.
  21. May 8, 2008 #20
    I am doing a double major in math and physics. I think double-majoring in math and a math-related field such as computer science, chemistry, physics, economics, etc is very important if you intend to work either in math or in one of the math-related fields. This is because

    1) You always want a back-up if you're first choice fails or you change your mind. For the past year, I wanted to go to grad school in physics but like 2 days ago I changed my mind and decided to go to grad school in math. If I had not done began my second major already, this would have severely limited my grad school prospects. Even after college it would be useful if you have a mid-life crisis or something.

    2) I needed a second major just in order to focus my studies. Graduating with just a random buffet of classes is much less productive.
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