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Double major in Physics and engineering for career safety

  1. May 26, 2014 #1
    Hey guys, I am an indian undergrad student completing my BTech in Industrial engineering in one of top 3 universities in india. I am planing to move on to physics for Grad school and i have a proper profile for it with research projects and Interns in physics. so am kind of sure i would get a good grad school for physics.

    My question is, browsing through he forum i found that masters/Phd in physics is not a very lucrative option in terms of career (infact read that people are still in search of jobs after Phd after like 3-4 years). And also heard engineers have a kind of career security after their graduation. so i would like to know would it be possible (or infact better) to do a double major in physics as well as engineering to increase my probability of getting jobs ?

    PS i am determined to do physics for masters so it would be either to major in phy and minor in engineering or major in both. which would be a better option ?
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  3. May 27, 2014 #2
    Double majoring an engineering discipline with any other major is very difficult and time-consuming. Don't expect any free time.

    I feel you should settle on one or the other. You seem to want to do Physics more, but are considering engineering for secure career opportunities. If you want to do physics, you will have to go through a PhD program. Engineering would not help you very much in that aspect.
  4. May 27, 2014 #3

    Meir Achuz

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    Pick one or the other, so you can put full effort into it. Grad school requires much more time and effort than UG.
  5. May 27, 2014 #4


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    Why does it have to be one or the other?


    I do not know if such a program is available where you intend do your graduate work, but fields such as Accelerator Science and Detector Physics can be done either as a physics major or as an engineering (EE) major. For a physics major, these two fields have the most "engineering" aspect of any other physics fields that I know of. Graduates of these fields tend to have a lot of "useful" knowledge and skills that are compatible with many parts of industries.

  6. May 27, 2014 #5
    I did both, one was for career safety and the other was for intellectual curiosity. The up side is that you get the opportunity to get involved in lots of different projects due to the access to the research done by profs in both departments. The issue is that there really isn't that much overlap and it's going to take longer. If you're not in a program where you can put them both together in a reasonable time frame, I would suggest doing one with a minor in the other.
  7. May 27, 2014 #6
    OP, most of the posts you've been reading apply to the west. Be careful applying that info to your studies in India.
  8. May 27, 2014 #7


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    You need only have an undergraduate degree in engineering. You can always go back later to pick up a masters if a PEL [professional engineering license] is of interest. Either way you would need a few years of engineering experience to qualify as a PE almost anywhere in the west. At the undergrad level there is enough overlap between physics and engineering that most people can complete a double major in about five years. A masters in physics is pretty much useless, unless teaching - in which case your earnings potential is already on the low end of the curve. Many of the graduate level courses is physics can be credited towards a masters in engineering, as Zz noted. So even if you ultimately decided a Phd in physics was not in the cards, most of the heavy lifting for a masters in engineering would be done. You should check the PEL requirements in the region you plan to work and see what makes sense.
  9. May 27, 2014 #8
    Thanks a lot for your replies ! I am sure in need of guidance and you people really help a lot !

    My primary preference would be to enter research and takeing couple of years extra wouldnt be a problem for me. i am okay with working hard.

    Accelerator physics seems quite a good option for me. I had prepared myself for theoretical physics but wouldnt mind venturing into other physics areas specially seeing accelerator is fun. for this to happen, should i take Msc in physics and then Phd in accelerator physics ?

    thanks for the insight. i have kept physics first in my plate and since i am having a engineering undergrad degree in hand i just thought , hearing the bad phase of Phd's, that double majoring in engineering would help me more. Moreover i have built my profile such as to get into a good phy grad school, with research papers and REU's in physics, I have very few engineering items to pop up in the profile (max 2 interns) so i dont think i would have a good chance in getting engineering courses. or would I ?
  10. May 27, 2014 #9


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    Graduate courses in fields such as mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, electronics, materials science, transport phenomena, computer science, etc., should all count towards an engineering MS. You might need a few specialty courses to complete your MS, but, that is a matter of checking your school and PE requirements in your region of interest. I think you have done everything right. If your Phd in physics pans out, that's great. If not, I think you still have all your bases covered.
  11. May 27, 2014 #10
    I saw an adviser about getting a MS in EE at a local state university and only one of my completed graduate courses counted. Also, I had to take many deficiency courses just to start the MS in EE. I don't doubt that other schools may be different, so the best bet is to see an adviser at your specific school.
  12. May 29, 2014 #11
    I don't know what country you're from, but in the US that is definitely not the case.
  13. May 29, 2014 #12
    Major in both, minor in engineering is nothing. I did a double degree in ME and physics in 4 years. It's possible, but difficult.
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