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Crazy for not double majoring in math?

  1. Nov 3, 2012 #1
    After talking to a couple of professors and my adviser, I'm still unsure as to whether or not I should double major in math. I'm a physics major and I'm planning to minor in math and geology right now, but the math degree would only require 4 additional math classes (and 1 intro CS). Some professors have told me that the extra math will look good to grad schools/employers while others have said that it would be basically worthless. There is a ton of overlap in the curriculum at my school and so nearly all of the physics majors end up double majoring in math. The additional math classes would include:
    -Intro to advanced math (intro to proofs)
    -Matrix theory (intro linear algebra proofs)
    -Advanced Calc of one real variable (real analysis)
    -Intro abstract algebra I

    The reason I'm hesitant to double major is mainly because the 4 additional classes that I would have to take are proof based and as much as I like math, I'm not sure that I would enjoy the upper level proof based math classes. If the 4 additional classes were applied math classes then I would maybe consider it. Also, I'm interested in geophysics (hence the geology minor) and would like to keep this option open for grad school. I've heard of people getting into geophysics programs with no geology but if I'm serious about geophysics then I want to make sure that I'm competitive for good grad programs... So what do you guys think? Is it a waste not to get the double major from an employment/grad school perspective?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2012 #2
    If you want to go to grad school in geophysics, then I think minoring or majoring in geology is the best idea.
    It is useless to take abstract math classes that you're never going to need later (unless you enjoy the classes of course).
  4. Nov 3, 2012 #3
    It really just depends on how you feel about it and the curriculum of your school. At the one I'm currently at, a Physics degree requires more advanced math than an actual math major, so it's pretty easy to decide. But as far as graduate school, I think it would be nice but not necessarily helpful to a person that already has a degree in physics, considering the level of math required to get a degree in physics. If you wish to do a double major, it may be more helpful to have a related, but different major, such as computer science. Or, if you're going towards geophysics, geology would be a good alternative major, though it would probably take quite a bit more classes. This is just coming from what I have heard from the advisers where I go to school.
  5. Nov 3, 2012 #4
    I don't understand how some schools require that physics majors take more advanced math than a math major. Can someone clear this up for me? What maths do physics majors take at these schools?
  6. Nov 3, 2012 #5
    Well, we have to take an additional semester of Applied Differential Equations, and the same levels of calculus and linear algebra as math majors. We don't have to take classes that are dedicated to proofs though. Any of the proofs that we have a need to know are covered in our physics courses.
  7. Nov 3, 2012 #6


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    Science Advisor

    I don't see how that is more advanced math than a math major as the OP had asked above.
  8. Nov 3, 2012 #7


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    Education Advisor

    While I'm sure it may be possible to apply techniques learnt in Real Analysis and Abtract Algebra to geophysics, I think it would be more beneficial to learn more about geology and thus select a geology major.

    The only minor suggestion I have is to take the linear algebra course just because even if it's proof based, the concepts in linear algebra are just so darn powerful. Knowing more about it, tends to translate well to physics.
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