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Courses Do chemistry courses pick up radically after the first year?

  1. Apr 27, 2010 #1
    I've heard from a few people that chemistry courses get quite hard when the 2nd year starts. I would have thought since you start to specialize in chemistry there will be a lot of overlap between classes which would make things a bit easier. I was thinking about trying to double major so I can make the best of the time I spend in university but everyone I've mentioned this too so far has discouraged me from doing it. The thing is I'm not just studying chemistry to get a degree or make money I'm studying it because I love the subject along with pretty much every science field I've studied so far. I've devoted my life to science and I study this stuff for the fun while some people devote a few hours a day to studying I devote the whole day to it including weekends. Considering all that would you say it would still be unwise for me to attempt to take a second course in say electrical engineering on top of the chemistry course I'm doing now?
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2010 #2
    I'm currently at a crossroads myself. I recently changed majors from chemistry to physics.

    2nd year chemistry is quite a step up from first year general chem. Sophomore year is when you usually take Organic Chemistry along with the rest of a calculus sequence, and the science major's physics plus electives. If you're doing a Physics/Chemistry double major you'll be in the Calc and physics courses already, so if you could fit Organic in your schedule it would work. However, Junior/senior years would be a nightmare. I shudder to think Physical Chem and instrumental/Quant. analysis at the same time as all the notoriously tough junior/senior level physics courses like Quantum Mechanics and Electromagnetism. I just don't think there would be enough time in a typical four year schedule to do both.

    I'm basing this off what my university's chemistry and physics programs look like. To major in both would take longer than four years if you wish to remain sane. I considered it for a while but concluded that physics was the way to go. Much like you, I love both subjects immensely, but settled on the old adage: "Chemistry is just applied physics."

    My advice would be to pick one that interests you the most or best fits into your plans for the future. There is nothing stopping you from learning about the other on your own time or even going back to school later and getting a degree in the other.

    That's my $.02
  4. Apr 28, 2010 #3
    Thanks. I'm at the end of my first year chemistry course right now and from what I can see I'm done with calculus next year we cover statistics and thats it for maths. In electronics engineering they have a completely different maths class. I suppose I might as well just finish this chemistry course then later down the line if I need a degree in electronics engineering to get into a research field which my chem degree wont help me get into then I'll go back and do another 4 years. The main field I want to get into is neuroscience but I'd really like to get into nanotechnology and electrical engineering and a handful of other fields too. I suppose the smartest thing I can do is try and get a PhD that will grant me access to research positions in a wide range of fields. The course I'm in now is a joint chemistry and pharmacology course so its not a bad course to stay in as these fields do come into play in neuroscience and nanotechnology.

    BTW what year are you in at the moment?
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
  5. Apr 28, 2010 #4
    I'm a junior now. I'll be graduating in five instead of four years.

    It sounds like you want to use nanotechnology to do things with neuroscience. It's worth keeping in mind that projects like that will involve a lot of people. You're not going to find someone who has a Ph.D in neuroscience and an electrical engineering degree (I suppose it's possible, but not likely). Stuff like this involves lots of people from a very wide spectrum of specialties. So you could have an electrical engineer and someone who is an expert in neuroscience working together to make nantotech robots (or whatever) that would, for example, control people's minds (or, again, do whatever. Mind control is cool though).

    The point I'm trying to make is you don't have to be an expert in neuroscience and an electrical engineer to use nanotechnology with neuroscience. You'll have others around you to help you out with stuff you're not an expert in. That's why "works well with others" is so important to employers and in science in general.

    In my opinion it's better to become very good at doing one thing (like chemistry) and then pick up the peripherals (like electrical engineering) as you work in whatever job you have. It'll come with the territory.
  6. Apr 28, 2010 #5
    Thanks for the info. I didn't think of it like that but thats a good point in research like this I'd be better off having a specialty so my part will be the chemistry/pharmacology end or whatever I specialize in. Yep the idea of utilizing nanotechnology in neuroscience did cross my mind I have to admit. Since the neurons rely on chemicals as much as they do on electricity I assume chemistry and pharmacology are 2 good fields to be getting into but I'm really tempted to switch to electrical engineering because I have a feeling thats the way of the future but like you said theres nothing stopping me from learning other fields in my own time.
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