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Double major

  1. Jun 9, 2007 #1
    hey everyone,

    currently I'm a first year physics major (going onto my 2nd year this fall), I was thinking about doing a double major in Physics and Mathematics. I really enjoy math and there are a lot of 4th year math classes i'd like to take, but they wouldnt be going towards my physics degree. Would having two degrees make me more eligable for more jobs or grad school, or does it even matter?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2007 #2
    When you say double major, at my school, that means you did the requirements of 2 departments and you get one degree that says you double majored in physics and math.

    If you double-degree at my school, they have to be different degrees (i.e. 1 engineering, 1 science) and not only do you satisfy both departments, but you must satisfy both degrees (i.e. twice the bull**** classes.)

    Double major, or simply take a lot of math classes. But double-degree is probably not worth it, and maybe not even possible with physics and math.

    But, here's an example where you might double degree; you're getting one degree in physics and another say in biomedical engineering, then maybe. But probably then major in BME and take a lot of physics classes.

    And it would probably be a very wise idea for a physics major to take as many math classes as possible.
  4. Jun 9, 2007 #3


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    I fully agree with what owen said. Double majoring is usually a hassle. Just take the courses that interest you, if you can. That way you won't have to worry about satisfying the more annoying requirements of getting awarded a double major/degree. A double major isn't really all that impressive in the long run.
  5. Jun 9, 2007 #4
    my reasoning was that there are about 3-5 math classes that I want to take that wont go towards my degree, so I thought that perhaps I should just take those classes and do a bit more extra work and then I would have two degrees, but if in the end it wont help me get a job or go into grad school anymore than just my physics degree would, then why bother, right?

    thanks :)
  6. Jun 9, 2007 #5
    Are you kidding me? I've taken about 10 classes or more that are absolutely worthless for me applying to math graduate school in the fall. So what. I liked them, and I'm sure I'm not alone on this. Take the math class if you like them.

    Besides, if you end up going theoretical physics you're going to really regret having not taken the math classes.

    I spoke to a theoretical physicist at my school last semester, who works on string theory, and he said, all the stuff he needed to know they didn't teach in physics classes, like analysis on manifolds. Unless you're the next Witten, then you're going to find teaching yourself advanced pure math rather difficult without having a sufficient amount of training in doing so first.

    As far as getting a job... In the words of Professor McDuff, "It can never hurt to take more math classes!" You can definitely listen to her advice. Employers will be very happy to see that not only can you do practical work, but you can handle heavy abstract reasoning too.

    Go head, take the math, you might even have fun!
  7. Jun 9, 2007 #6
    i'd say go ahead and do it then, if that's what you want.
  8. Jun 10, 2007 #7
    I guess in the end, if I did take all those extra math classes it would show up on my transcript anyways, so have the extra degree would be kind of pointless, right? well not pointless, but you see what I mean

    thanks again everyone
  9. Jun 11, 2007 #8
    I double majored in physics and mathematics, and I ended up going to graduate school in physics, so maybe I'm a bit qualified to speak here.

    Does double majoring make you more eligible for physics graduate school? Probably not. To be sure, there are math classes you should take that will help you in physics. If you take differential geometry, complex variables, and Fourier analysis, then you should be good. But analysis, topology, advanced calculus, etc., aren't going to be that helpful to you for undergraduate physics. As a math major, I'd say that these classes are great in their own right, but rigorous mathematics just isn't all that useful in the physics that you'll be doing. Of course it doesn't hurt to do a double major. So my advice would be that you should do a double major, but only if you really like math. Mathematics is a very different discipline than physics, so you've actually got to like logic, proofs, and formalism, if you hope to enjoy majoring in the subject. About the only advantage I got from my math degree is that my first year graduate advisor didn't require me to take the "math for physicists" course (which I signed up for anyway...).

    Will a double major make you more eligible for jobs? Absolutely! Before I decided to go to graduate school, I went on a job hunt, and I actually found that more employers were looking for math majors than physics majors. With a math major, you're open to possibilities such as analyst positions, computer science jobs, and other related fields.

    Whatever you decide, just don't be fooled by people who say that physics majors have a really easy time picking up math degrees. Of the thirteen math courses that I had to take for my mathematics degree, only five were required for my physics degree (calculus 1-4, and an upper division math course). Math really is a different subject than physics. If you're going to major in math, make sure you actually like math.
  10. Jun 11, 2007 #9
    wow, thanks a lot. I really appreciate that reply. currently im taking my 2nd year math classes during the summer because I know that the math I took in my first year is no where near the 'style' of math i'll be taking in 3rd and 4th year. So im going to see how much I enjoy my 2nd and 3rd year math classes before I decide to do a double in math and physics. I really enjoy math, but im at the point where I dont know if I like mathematics itself or the idea of math, if you see where im going with that.

    thanks again
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