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Don't Need Chemistry as a Physics Major?

  1. Apr 30, 2015 #1
    I'm a Physics major, and I've heard most universities require that you take Chemistry. My school doesn't require this.

    Is it still beneficial to get some chemistry under my belt?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 30, 2015 #2
    It depends on what you want to do. I wasn't required to take chemistry for my physics degree. I took a few terms of it anyway because I was interested and liked it. But in the end, after you leave school and get a job, you probably wont use most of the stuff from any of your classes. With that in mind, its hard to answer if it will be beneficial.
  4. Apr 30, 2015 #3


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    The interplay between Physics and Chemistry is very strong to ignore. A physics major student really SHOULD study at least General Chemistry, the most likely Chemistry requirement for a degree in Physics.
  5. Apr 30, 2015 #4
    I took a physical chemistry course, which is essentially learning about the physics behind chemical principles. Physics governs the atomic & molecular properties and interactions, which are essentially what chemistry is about. I strongly recommend to take general chemistry and physical chemistry!
  6. Apr 30, 2015 #5
    It depends, you learn the physical basis of chemistry in lots of your physics courses (in some cases better than the Chemistry majors); but I can see knowledge of chemistry being useful for physicists doing certain jobs (materials, corrosion, etc), but there are others where it would probably be useless. Your miles may vary.
  7. Apr 30, 2015 #6
    I agree with Mr. clope023. I think it would be good for you to think about what branch and research topics of physics are you most interested in. For example, if you are going to study the molecules in the space, it would be quite helpful to take the organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and analytic chemistry.
  8. Apr 30, 2015 #7


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    The chemical bond is one of the the most important applications of quantum mechanics. You should at least know basic chemistry, things like acid-base reactions, reaction rates etc.

    Thermodynamics is another major area of physics which is confirmed to be true by chemistry.

    You don't have to take a course in it, but the relationship between chemistry and physics is basic physics.
  9. May 1, 2015 #8


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    As an experimentalist, I have sometimes regretted not having done chemistry at university (when I have had to do some chemistryish stuff) but it hasn't ever really held me back, I think. It's good to do, and interesting, but I wouldn't worry too much if you don't.
  10. May 1, 2015 #9


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    I think it's almost essential for a physics student to have at least a basic understanding of general chemistry. The amount of overlap between physics and chemistry is pretty huge in many areas, and seeing the material from the perspective of chemistry can be beneficial in physics, even if only due to providing a wider perspective of a given phenomenon. I'm in physics III and we're covering atomic and nuclear physics currently. Having seen at least some of this material in chemistry has made learning the material in physics much easier.

    Usefulness and relevancy aside, I simply think that it's important for any science major to have at least some familiarity with the major areas of science. My knowledge of biology is fairly limited, but I'm glad I have the knowledge of it that I have. Topics relating to biology only rarely come up in physics, but they do come up. Even if only in tangential ways. A cursory understanding of the human eye (the eye in general) is helpful when studying optics. A basic understanding of our anatomy and physiology is helpful because we can see things like the simple harmonic motion of our "default" walking pace or the fact that the human body is a heat engine. It's not necessarily essential to understand the biology or the chemistry behind the various topics that have connections to topics in physics, but in my opinion it's very beneficial because it allows one to form a more complete picture of many topics.

    And this goes both ways. I think it's important for biology and chemistry majors to have a basic understanding of physics as well.

    edit - I've met several biology and chemistry majors that seemed to disagree with me on that last point...lol
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