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- Thread starter andrassy
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But again, if you want to get a phd in applied math because you think it will let you do physics, that's a very bad idea.

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I'm not sure if getting a PhD in applied mathematics and then getting a job at a government research lab is easy or the best route, but I am sure it is possible with a PhD in applied mathematics.

The real question is, would the field you be studying actually be something you enjoy? A career is an important decision. You will be spending most of your awake day, and week working on your career, so make sure you actually like applied mathematics.

You got time and I see no reason why you cannot double major in mathematics and physics until graduate school. That way you'll have a better understanding of what applied math really is and what physics can offer you.

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yeah true. the only reason I am trying to figure it out is because i didnt take physics last semester (and because the way the classes work out), to not totally cram physics classes into my schedule i would have to self-study mechanics over the summer and take a placement test to get into E&M next semester so im trying to figure out if it is worth it

I'm not sure if getting a PhD in applied mathematics and then getting a job at a government research lab is easy or the best route, but I am sure it is possible with a PhD in applied mathematics.

The real question is, would the field you be studying actually be something you enjoy? A career is an important decision. You will be spending most of your awake day, and week working on your career, so make sure you actually like applied mathematics.

You got time and I see no reason why you cannot double major in mathematics and physics until graduate school. That way you'll have a better understanding of what applied math really is and what physics can offer you.

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I think you could go into physics through an applied math program, if that's what you're asking... There's several multidisciplinary graduate programs in something like "computational and applied math" where almost everybody works on applications (like physics) but also takes classes in math and programming.

You seem to be remarking about how the study of mathematics allows for great versatility to do work outside mathematics, say, in physics. I really agree with this remark and I have talked to at least one professor in Canada who strongly agreed with this idea. In fact, the professor I talked to, who was originally from Russia, had mentioned how he originally got a Ph.D. in Physics (in Russia), and then later went on to get another Ph.D. in mathematics, taking a whole another five years.... Obviously this man felt that his initial Ph.D. did not suffice. He strongly believed in the mathematician's versatility in research work. Why does mathematics training make you a good physicist? Because advanced physics can be extremely mathematical.

I basically disagree with this remark from zhentil. I like to think of it this way. Everyone who uses lots of mathematics, be it a financial analyst or a physicist or anything else, has the need to understand his mathematics to a certain degree. This degree varies for everyone differently; some people are content to just use mathematics passingly, whereas others insist on knowing the mathematics exactly. If you happen to be one of those people who really needs to see all the inner workings of the math, including the proofs, then so be it. Some people are just more into the math than others. In other words, maybe some physicists need to be educated by mathematicians to be happy.

It is true that the study of mathematics _by itself_ will not make you a successful scientist or engineer. But I think most everyone would agree that the better you are with math, the better you can be with physics. So if you can study in a math program but still retain a solid education in another subject, I don't think there's anything to criticize here.

You seem to be remarking about how the study of mathematics allows for great versatility to do work outside mathematics, say, in physics. I really agree with this remark and I have talked to at least one professor in Canada who strongly agreed with this idea. In fact, the professor I talked to, who was originally from Russia, had mentioned how he originally got a Ph.D. in Physics (in Russia), and then later went on to get another Ph.D. in mathematics, taking a whole another five years.... Obviously this man felt that his initial Ph.D. did not suffice. He strongly believed in the mathematician's versatility in research work. Why does mathematics training make you a good physicist? Because advanced physics can be extremely mathematical.

But again, if you want to get a phd in applied math because you think it will let you do physics, that's a very bad idea.

I basically disagree with this remark from zhentil. I like to think of it this way. Everyone who uses lots of mathematics, be it a financial analyst or a physicist or anything else, has the need to understand his mathematics to a certain degree. This degree varies for everyone differently; some people are content to just use mathematics passingly, whereas others insist on knowing the mathematics exactly. If you happen to be one of those people who really needs to see all the inner workings of the math, including the proofs, then so be it. Some people are just more into the math than others. In other words, maybe some physicists need to be educated by mathematicians to be happy.

It is true that the study of mathematics _by itself_ will not make you a successful scientist or engineer. But I think most everyone would agree that the better you are with math, the better you can be with physics. So if you can study in a math program but still retain a solid education in another subject, I don't think there's anything to criticize here.

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[...]So if you can study in a math program but still retain a solid education in another subject, I don't think there's anything to criticize here.

There's the rub, and what a rub it is. If you get a Ph.D. in applied math, while also getting a Ph.D. in physics, you'll be prepared for physics research.

... Or you could just get the physics Ph.D. While there's nothing standing in the way of people who take an applied math track getting into physics, I agree that if you already know you want to be a physicist, ideally you should pursue physics while taking math classes relevant to your interests.

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There's the rub, and what a rub it is. If you get a Ph.D. in applied math, while also getting a Ph.D. in physics, you'll be prepared for physics research.

No you don't need two PhDs! I don't think that's what the other poster meant. You should study and be aware of one field while working in the other.

Having a PhD represents your ability to work through long research projects semi-independently and contribute to your field. That is the most important thing that degree signifies. You don't need to demonstrate it twice. If you want to switch after grad school, just switch, people do it all the time. You don't have to start over for two fields that are so close to each other.

Andrassy, you are a freshman, relax. You have years to figure it out. You don't know until you take more classes and maybe do an REU or something like that. You have had almost no taste of either physics or math yet.

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The point I was making is that it's more difficult to study applied math and keep abreast of developments in physics than to do the same if you're studying physics. Learning applied math techniques can make you a better physicist, but you better know physics too, so it seems rather roundabout to suggest to someone to go into applied math and then do physics.

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Oh sorry I might have caught that if I had my coffee before going on the forum. D'oh!

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What can you do with a PhD in applied math?

Isn't this the same question you asked in your first post?

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But again, if you want to get a phd in applied math because you think it will let you do physics, that's a very bad idea.

I agree. I am a mathematics and physics major and I am going to get a PhD in applied mathematics precisely because I don't want to do physics.

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yeah but i brought up going into physics and thats where the discussion went. I still have no quite figured out what jobs in industry are suitable for the educationIsn't this the same question you asked in your first post?

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