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Double major in physics and some engineering

  1. May 21, 2007 #1
    Im going to be a freshmen in college next fall, and i already have a pretty solid idea of what I want to do.

    I want to major in some sort of engineering, and i also love physics, so i decided i want to try and double major. Now, at first i thought the workload would be insane, but physics and engineering do seem to go together.

    my cousin double majored in business and econ cause he said the courses he took worked towards both majors.

    So, do you guys believe i could double major with a relatively little increase in coursework, because the two are interrelated? Like, my friend is double majoring in pharmacy and mech. eng, and since those arent that related, he's going to be at college for like another whole year.

    Btw, engineering is my top priority, so if my plan foils ill just take engineering. And also, the types of engineering im heavily considering are: electrical and chemical, and i considered this a little less, but also mechanical.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2007 #2
    I looked into doing the same thing that you are doing. I figured out that a physics/EE double major would require me to stay an additional year. There was something like a 40 hr. credit difference. Not saying that it can't be done, just pointing out that EE classes are pretty exclusive from physics beyond General Physics I and II. There really wasn't that much overlap. However, it was more than possible to minor in phyics and major in EE. It was actually complimentary.
    Not saying I have all the answers; you definately need to consult people wiser than myself. Just pointing out what I know

    P.S.- you should get the course catalog for the schools that you are looking at and see how you could construct your studies. Could you possibly start grad school while finishing up your second degree? Just throwing stuff out there.
  4. May 21, 2007 #3


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    As you get into more advanced undergrad courses EE and Physics somewhat split. I am a junior physics major and I don't understand much about circuits beyond what was covered in General Physics. Much of the stuff my engineering buddies do, I have no idea about. So, while there is a lot of overlap in the beginning, they do go their own ways later on,(by the spring of Sophomore year they split for me.)

    Its kind of similar to Physics vs. Math. Alot of people think there is a lot of overlap, but really I am completely blown away by the stuff my math friends do in their 3-400 level courses.

    If you like engineering then do engineering. If you like physics then do physics.

    This advice may not apply to you and I am not assuming you are thinking this way, but I think I'll offer it, just to be safe.

    My advice: don't go into engineering if you love physics but want to make money, or you parents think its a better idea. This is a bad start to your university career. Do what you love and it will work out in the end, I promise. There are jobs in physics, despite what many parents apparently think!
  5. May 21, 2007 #4
    You’re not going to get really pushed until around your 2nd year. Your first year or so will be almost identical if you’re taking physics or engineering. It's when you get into your 3rd year that you will really see if you can handle the double major.

    Talk to leright, he is a junior or senior and doing a double major in EE and physics.

    From what I've heard, unless your planning on grad school, you would be better off either getting better grades in one engineering discipline or doing a double major in engineering, EE/ME, EE/CE, ME/CE, etc.......
  6. May 21, 2007 #5


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    One could look for an engineering physics program, which some universities offer, but many engineering programs (certainly EE) are compatible with physics.
  7. May 21, 2007 #6
    I am doing this double major (EE/physics). At my school there's about 35 extra credits beyond the engineering degree, and since I am interested in solid state device physics it is worth the extra time since device physics is close to the interface between physics and EE. I am on my 5th and last year right now.

    Plus, I just really like physics and EE almost equally, and I simply couldn't choose one over the other.

    Also, while there might seem like there's little overlap between the degrees a lot of chairpersons will waive certain requirements if you are a double major. If you decide to do this, I would advise you to work closely with your advisor and chair to make sure you complete the double major as quickly as possible.
  8. May 21, 2007 #7
    Heh, I've got to second this. I actually doubled in physics and math, and the idea that they are similar is somewhat naive. In retrospect I probably should have dropped math and done a liberal arts major (I'd still have physics to get me into grad school). Oh well.

    Oh by the way, you'll likely be learning about circuits soon. The first semester of the junior year, all the physics majors at my school had to take a physics class on electronics. We learned about circuit design, computer programming, interfacing computers with electronic circuits, and data acquisition in one semester. In those four months, we learned what EE majors usually learn in a whole year (and they at least space it out over multiple classes). It was tough, but what I learned in that class has served me very well so far in just my first week of grad school.
  9. May 22, 2007 #8
    hmm, well i think i might still try it. Who knows. Ive never actually taken an engineering course yet. In the event my speculations of engineering should fail, i still love physics.

    On a sidenote, im taking level 300 math courses my freshmen year. Im taking the year long honors accelerated advanced calculus sequence. It's a three course sequence which gives credit for six classes, including linear algebra, multvariable calculus, real/complex analysis, complex variables, etc. Do you think i will die?
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