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Physics Careers using a Major in Physics and a Minor in Computer Science?

  1. Nov 30, 2004 #1
    I'm a freshman in college majoring in computer science.. but I'm thinking about changing my major to Engineering Physics. It's bascially Physics, but requires you to do one of a few things, such as minoring in computer science. One of the reasons I'd switch my major is because I've heard the job market is dwindling for computer programmers... but then again, could a computer science degree get me some other type of job? And I guess my main question is: what types of careers could I expect to find with a major in physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2004 #2
    Computer Science, although many colleges treat it as such, is not computer programming. If your curriculum for computer science is pretty much learn any 8 computer languages, you need to change majors because you're wasting your money.

  4. Dec 1, 2004 #3


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    Most of my friends are majoring in CS, and I'm aware of the classes they've taken. Many classes ranged from freshman Java, C++, to senior Compiler Theory. Although programming is a very, very core essential of CS, there are other topics, but not many.
  5. Dec 3, 2004 #4
    Comp Sci topics here:

    Design, testing, and documentation of object-oriented software
    Basic control structures, datas types
    Discrete Structures: logic, sets, relations. Propositional and predicate logic. Applicaoinsof predicate logic.
    Software Engineering
    Computer Design and Assembly Language Programming
    Systems Programming
    Computer Architecture
    Design and Analysis of Algorithms
    Theory of Computing
    INtroduction to operating Systems
    Numerical Analysis
    Computer Sytem Admin
    File Structures
    Database Systems
    Database Modeling, Design, and Implementation
    real-Time systems
    Computer Networks

    Its a huge program here, to say the least. Coding skills are mor of a tool than the education itself. Sort of like math is for the physics majors. Important, used extensively, several classes in it, but we're learning how to use it to solve real problems, not just learning it.
  6. Dec 3, 2004 #5
    I would do it if you feel you can handl it, Physics is a much more respected degree. (Says the unemployed CS major who is trying his hand at ChemE)
  7. Dec 3, 2004 #6
    The thing with physics, the job market is not declining, but it isn't fantastic. Don't do it for employability, do it because you like it.
  8. Dec 3, 2004 #7
    I know several people who have CS degrees that can't find a job in the computer/IT industry. One is a cousin that graduated from Ohio state, he's working in the family business as general labor. Several others are working at places like Best Buy and CompUSA as sales staff. Most have gone back to school to get another degree of some kind. They still want to be programmers, but will use another degree to get in the door and then hope that their programming skills will allow them to change positions inside the company.

    The real problem that I've seen with CS degrees is that they don't open the same doors as say an engineering degree or business degree would.
  9. Dec 21, 2004 #8
    Hi So-crates

    I am through similar situation - next year trying on a different career.
    At first i was going to take chemistry, but later decided to take electronics... cause it has more to do with IT and stuff, but anyways i am gonna miss Chem a lot. Why did you decided for ChemE ??? I agree with you, phys and chem are more respectable - and even more cool - careers

    All the best
  10. Dec 21, 2004 #9
    ChemE seems like its a little more diverse, dealing with everything from pharmaceuticals to semiconductors. The reason I decided for ChemE is alot of people I knew who were CompEs and EEs ended up doing CS stuff anyways. It seems like not many people do chip design anymore. Though i did know a guy who was a ChemE who ended up programming when i worked for a defense contractor, he had stopped at his bachelors and had a job out west in California before moving to the east coast. I also know a few others who got jobs in the semiconductor industry. I could be wrong, but EE just doesn't seem like its the cutting edge it was 20 years ago, most of the advances seem to come with developing better fab processes, most of which comes from the solid state physcists and materials and chemical engineers. The CompEs and EEs just kind of fill in the blanks. There hasn't been really much change in microprocessor design in about 20 years, they've just been able to fit more transistors on a smaller footprint and have been able to deal with higher switching speeds. If the transistor ever becomes obsolute, it will probably be because of a physicist or chemical engineer.
  11. Dec 21, 2004 #10


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    Unless I missed it while doing my "speed reading", there is a glaring omission here.

    You do NOT have to choose between "computer science" and "physics". If you intend on continuing to graduate school (and if you're going into engineering physics, you should seriously consider this option), then you should be aware that there IS such a thing as majoring in computational physics. I would even mention that it is one of the most employable area of physics to major in. The ability to do numerical programing of various physical system is a highly desirable skill, especially if you can do stuff like quantum monte carlo, finite element analysis, etc. These skill transcends beyond just physics and can be applied into areas ranging from the financial market, weather forecasting to biological organisms.

    Again, I would strongly suggest you look at the job listing at the links that I have posted before on here (and can still be found in one of my journal entries) and you'll notice the kinds of job openings for someone with a physics major and computational skills.

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