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Choices, choices, choices

  1. Jan 6, 2009 #1
    So I want to go into physics at waterloo university, but I'm stuck with deciding whether I should take physics, or mathematical physics.

    Mathematical physics seems to be the major in which I'll learn all that beautiful theoretical stuff that I've read about in books (ex: the elegant unvierse). But then again, from my understanding, mathematical physics is also very rigourous in terms of math. I do enjoy math, but I don't know how far my capabilities would take me (85% in gr12 advanced functions)

    And now for the physics major, it'd probably be not so strictly formalist in terms of math and such, and it'd also offer more hands-on experience (labs) which is probably important for a career, but then, I think "what if i miss out on some of the stuff that could interest me by taking this instead of mathematical physics?".

    So there's pros and cons to each, but I don't know which one to decide on. my questions for you guys are:

    -what's the pros and cons to each?
    -from what I said, what do you think would be a better course of action for me?
    -am i able to switch easily between the majors in case i make the wrong decision?, like they are only partially in the same faculty, and wouldn't i need to take extra courses to be able to pull myself into the other?

    thanks for your opinions and advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2009 #2


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    My advice is to major in physics and take as many extra math courses along the way as you can, maybe even double major. I think everyone, whether they want to do experiment or theory, should take as many labs and as many math courses as possible.

    By doing this you'll still leave your options open to do theory in grad school, but you also won't limit yourself to only doing theory. If your experience is anything like mine, you may realize that you find a different field of physics, maybe even an experimental field, more interesting than anything in Brian Greene's books.

    My advice in short:

    I don't think you should limit yourself early on when you really haven't been formally exposed to much physics at all. I say do the physics major with extra math courses or a double major in math.

    Whatever the decision, good luck to you!
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