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BA in Physics or BS in engineering?

  1. Aug 3, 2009 #1
    hey so im in a particularily difficult postion for my future right now. I know i want to be an engineer one day, but i am also a decent basketball player. I chose my college to be a Div III school, which i play basketball. Here is my problem though, it is a liberal arts college and a small one at that, with a not so go prestigious physics program. I am planing on graduating in 4 years with a BA in physics and then go on the Grad school and get an masters in Engineering (mechanical or Electrical). My original plan before basketball was to go to a major University and get a degree in engineering followed by a masters...

    So basically i am looking for advice...
    BA in Physics + MS in Engingeering?
    BS in Engineering + MS Engineering (transfer schools)?

    I am really worried if doing a BA in Physics is going to set me back when looking for a job, or is better because it gives me a more balanced, liberal arts background?

    any advice, personal stories, or words of wisdom would be much appericated

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Some states require a BS in engineering to be licensed as an engineer. This may affect your career plans.
  4. Aug 3, 2009 #3


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    This is a tough one. You have already decided that engineering is your lifetime goal. Engineering, not basketball, will stay with you for the rest of your life. So it seems that on purely logical grounds, the brain wants you to go to a school that offers engineering. But that does not satisfy the heart that wants you in basketball.

    A possible compromise between the two might be to start physics in the liberal arts college, play basketball for two years, then consider transferring to a school of engineering. Most engineering curricula require you to take physics and math and electives that you will also have to take for the physics major, so if you choose your courses carefully, you will not be terribly far behind when you transfer. And who knows? Maybe physics will capture you when you start studying it or maybe basketball will disappoint you. Although you will have to do it eventually, you don't have to close any doors right now. If you go straight to engineering school, you might end up regretting for the rest of your life not playing basketball when you had the chance. The college experience is learning (obviously) but also to finding out just how good one is in whatever endeavor one chooses - and that includes basketball.
  5. Aug 3, 2009 #4


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    A BA in physics can be quite good preparation for engineering graduate school. I am an electrical engineer, and I went to grad school and work with a number of folks that took that path. If I were you, I would play ball for four years (I would regret it if I didn't), but make sure I kept up on my studies. If you are able to do well in your physics classes you should be in pretty good shape.

    From folks I knew in grad school, and from folks I have interviewed, I have learned that the math requirements for physics departments at small liberal arts schools can be quite varied, while engineering math requirements are pretty standard as far as I have seen. Beyond the calculus sequence and a differential equations class, make sure you take linear algebra, and a calculus-based probability theory or probability and statistics class. Any math beyond that would of course help, but can be considered a bonus - you will have large time commitment with basketball, and taking fewer classes and really learning the material is probably more helpful that taking more classes and just getting by.

    Good luck!
  6. Aug 4, 2009 #5
    thank you very much for this help, you have no idea how much this helps to put my mind at ease
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