Deciding between Math or Physics for Gradschool

  • Thread starter Karatechop
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In summary, the conversation discusses the individual's academic background as a math and physics double major with a minor in astronomy at Western Kentucky University. They have worked on various research projects and taken a range of courses in both subjects. They express their love for both math and physics and their struggle to decide which to pursue in graduate school. They also mention the difference between theoretical and mathematical physics at the graduate level and the potential job opportunities in each field.
  • #1
Karatechop
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Currently I am in my junior year at Western Kentucky University.
I am a math and physics double major with a minor in astronomy. While here I have worked with a professor on extrasolar planet transit detection alogrithms and did reasearch this summer in nuclear astrophysics at clemson university. This comming semester I am going to be working with a math professor in advanced group theory.

Courses Taken

Physics and Astronomy.
Univesrity Physics 1 and Lab
Univesrity Physics 2 and Lab
University Physics 3 and Lab
Circuit Theory
Electronics Lab
Modern Physics 1
Modern Physics 2
Atomic lab
Introducatory Astrophysics
Observational Astronomy.

Mathematics
Calc 1
Calc 2
Multivariable Calculus
Partial Differential Equatoins
Ordinary Differential Equations
Linear Algebra
Discrete Mathematics
Abstract Algebra 1
Abstract Algebra 2

I love math and physics both. However I can see myself going a semester without physics but however couldn't imagine a semester without a math class. My problem is which do I go to gradschool for?
I love both and was thinking about going for physics and work on a master in math at the same time if it is possible to do. I am more of a theoretical person than experimentalist as I have learned. Is it posibble to do both. Lately I've been looking at schools that offer graduate degree in mathematical physics but my physics professors have told me time after time there is no jobs in it and it is useless to go into. Is this true or is it possible to get a teaching job at a university as a mathematical physicist.

Thanks for your time,
Karatechop
 
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  • #2
Sorry about the poor grammar quality. I should have proofread it before posting it.
 
  • #3
if you think you've got the cojones, you could go to math graduate school since math departments these days are actually where much of the work in string theory is happening. And there are definitely still jobs in string theory... provided you are wicked smart and all that jazz...
 
  • #4
I'd study whatever you find interesting. If you have a technical degree, you will find work. It probably will be as an engineer, but only about 4% of the people who study physics get to really work in physics anyway.

We have at our company:

Astronomers working in optics
Geophysics and math majors working in software
Physics majors working in algorthm design
etc.
 
  • #5
Is there a difference between theoretical and mathematical physics at grad level?
 
  • #6
yes there is a difference, theoretical physics still tries to make predictions of physical things with their work. Mathematical physics has no such restriction, you can write papers on things such as axiomizing quantum field theory, clever math tricks to do physics problems, or just interesting facts about various theories. Mathematical physics faculty actually prove theorems, physics faculty tries to come up with new physics.
 

1. Should I choose Math or Physics for grad school?

It ultimately depends on your interests and career goals. If you have a strong passion for mathematical theories and problem-solving, then pursuing a math degree may be the best choice. If you are more interested in understanding the fundamental laws of the universe and how they apply to real-world phenomena, then a physics degree may be more fitting.

2. What are the differences between a Math and Physics graduate program?

Math graduate programs tend to focus on pure mathematical theories and applications, while physics programs typically have a more experimental and applied approach. Physics programs also include coursework in other sciences, such as chemistry and biology, while math programs mainly focus on mathematical concepts.

3. Can I switch between Math and Physics during my graduate studies?

It is possible to switch between the two fields, but it may require additional coursework and time. It is best to choose the field that you are most interested in from the beginning to avoid any difficulties with switching later on.

4. Which field has better job opportunities?

Both math and physics degrees can lead to a variety of career opportunities in fields such as research, academia, finance, engineering, and technology. It is important to research the specific job market and demand in your desired career path for each field to determine which may have better job opportunities.

5. What skills are necessary for success in a Math or Physics graduate program?

Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are essential for success in both fields. Additionally, math graduate programs may require advanced knowledge in abstract thinking and proof writing, while physics programs may require a strong foundation in calculus, mechanics, and electromagnetism.

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