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Double Majoring in Math and ____?

  1. Sep 26, 2010 #1
    I am currently a first-year undergrad at University of Virginia. I know for certain that I wanna major in Mathematics. In high school I did a two-course series in Math which contained a lot of Calculus, some Linear Algrebra, some Differential Equations and some other general topics in Pure Math. Pure Math was only half of the course. The other half was a split between Statistics and Newtonian Mechanics. It was challenging but I was able to do well in this course seres. Now taking this course, I feel has given me an edge in college Math and I'll be familiar with a certain percentage of every course I'll take upto a certain level. Right now I'm in Calculus II and Elementary Linear Algebra and am able to do well in both with minimal studying. Also, this course made me really interested in Math as it took a lot of dedication and hard work but whenever I was studying for it/doing problems related to it, I was enjoying it a lot too. Reducing a very complex equation to a simple and elegant answer which makes sense is very satisfying to me and the overall certainty of Math and how everything ties up together fascinates me. Hence I plan on majoring in Mathematics.

    Now here is where I need your advice. I also wanna do another major along with Math. One of the reasons for this is that I feel that I'll be limiting myself if I only do one major. One of the reasons I'm in college is that I want to be able to push myself to my limits academically. I'm thinking about Physics because the Newtonian Mechanics part of that course series I took was one of my favorite parts (even though some of the advanced topics were very challenging), and I've always been curious about Physics. Another one I'm considering is Computer Science. I do not know much about it but I want to do it because of job security (I am willing to sacrifice job security for pursuing my interests but not the other way around, hence me considering it as a second major).

    If I am not able to double major then I at least want to minor in something. My considerations for this are Philosophy and Physics for the interest factor and Computer Science or something else like engineering(?) for the job security factor.

    On top of all this, I want to graduate early, possibly in 6 or 7 semesters since I have about some credits from HS and I don't wanna be in-debt too much after I graduate. Plus if its doable I don't see any good reason to stay an extra year when you don't need to (the college "experience" is not a good enough reason).

    So what is your advice on this? Am I being too ambitious trying to pursue my interests and secure a job at the same time? Will a Math major alone be too challenging? What other subject should I choose for my second major/minor? How difficult would it prove to be? (I'm a very lazy person :( ) Any advice/comments on the early graduation thing?

    And please feel free to share any relevant experiences.

    (too long;didn't read crowd: Certain that I want to major in Math because I have an edge. Want to major or at least minor in something else which not sure of. Considering Physics, Computer Science, Philosophy, Engineering. Reasons include both job security and interests. Need advice/comments)
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  3. Sep 26, 2010 #2

    It kind of depends on what you want to do after undergraduate. If you don't plan on going any further with math, and just want a job, then honestly I wouldn't even major in math. Its like working hard for years at something and then probably never using more than 10% of your knowledge of mathematics at some job(probably wont be very related to math at all). If you like math a lot and want job security, then engineering would be where you want to go. If you found Newtonian mechanics interesting and like math then maybe mechanical engineering?

    Aiming for a double major and trying to graduate early is just a recipe for disaster. Sure some can/have done it, but I'm sure at great expense, or else they were very "inclined." Nothing wrong with a double major or graduating early, but both at the same time sounds painful/suicidal.
  4. Sep 26, 2010 #3


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    I disagree. I majored in engineering, and if I could do it all over again I'll major in Math.

    Why Math? well if you know for certain you're going into a quantitative science, chances are you'll use math, and sometimes even very abstract math!. For my work, I feel sometimes as a mathematician pretty much. I do a lot of economic modeling (Game Theory, Optimization, Probabilistic Models,...) and it's always ton of math.
  5. Sep 26, 2010 #4
    I think if you get a minor in computer science you'd be in a very good position to take on some good careers in software related jobs, perhaps R&D. Math degree would also help you a lot for going to graduate school in a lot of different things..

    I guess minor in what you're interested in. Take a programming class, take a physics class, see which one is more interesting to you.
  6. Sep 26, 2010 #5
    What's your job? Also I want to major in math as well. How far can a b.sc in math take me?
  7. Sep 26, 2010 #6
    If you're thinking about going to grad school, it really shouldn't matter what you double math with. A master's in physics, engineering, or computer science should be doable with a major in math and a few core courses in physics/engineering. e.g. modern physics/quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, mechanics for physics and mechanics of materials, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics for mech eng.
    As for graduating early with a double major, check to see if you can complete all the required classes (including gen eds) in 6 semesters without overloading any semester. If you can, you can consider it, but I wouldn't plan on graduating early. A good reason for staying for a full 8 semesters (imho a very worthwhile reason) is you can pick up a minor or two in addition to your double major.
  8. Sep 26, 2010 #7
    After reading this advice I think the most worthwhile option would be a major in Math with a minor in something more job-secure like CS or Engineering. Or maybe a double minor. This way I could probably still graduate early. Then decide later on what to do in grad school. Thing is I'm still not sure but I probably do want an education beyond bachelors.

    From what it currently seems like, double majoring with early graduation would be overkill with all those gen ed requirements still in the way.
  9. Sep 26, 2010 #8
    Engineering courses can be restricted to engineering only students in some schools -- mine for example.

    Departmental permission can be granted, but if there is a large amount of engineering students, then you're out of luck.
  10. Sep 27, 2010 #9
    Yeah, its a good idea to see if you can just sign up for engineering courses, or if you have to officially declare a minor first; at my school I don't think you have to have departmental authorization to take engineering courses, but they prefer it if you declare the minor before you take any classes.
  11. Oct 3, 2010 #10
    I think I'm allowed to take classes in the e-school.

    Any other advice or comments anyone? I still can't decide whether to double major, major/minor, major/double minor and depending on what I choose, graduating early or not.
  12. Oct 4, 2010 #11
    You may not have even got that job if you didn't major in engineering though.

    To the thread starter, from what I have read a minor doesn't seem to make that much of a difference to most employers. For example I could minor in math with only 2 extra courses(albeit they are senior level electives), but I wouldn't minor in math because it could help me with grad school or a job(because it probably wont), but would just for general knowledge instead.

    Not only that, but majoring in math with the intent of job security doesn;t seem like a good idea. You would be much more likely to get a job with a engineering major or possibly even physics, and both of these majors have plenty of math. A whole lot of physics majors at my university double with applied mathematics. This only requires 6 more math courses to secure a double major, so its not that much more work. Look into the curriculum's at your school and see if that would be possible.
  13. Oct 4, 2010 #12
    No, I said that I want the my second major for the intent of job security. I'm majoring in math purely because of my interest in it.
  14. Oct 5, 2010 #13
    Since you seem very uncertain about what other major you possibly may want to pursue other than mathematics, I would look at your math curriculum and see if there are any technical elective requirements, physics, and computing courses that you could or have to take to see if you would like to go further in those studies. I also saw that you said you are "very lazy", and if you plan on double majoring in some of the arguably hardest majors in college, laziness is not going to cut it.
  15. Oct 5, 2010 #14
    to me, if you plan on going to graduate school, being a double major in math and physics would leave you being a very strong candidate for either subject. you would even be well-prepared for doing engineering or another science in graduate school with the addition of completing the required courses in that particular subject.

    it would be even better if you did a double degree in math and physics. if you plan on going into the job force, then i would say that doing engineering or computer science with a math or physics minor or double major tacked on would be your best bet.

    my background was a dual degree major in math and electrical engineering who dropped the engineering degree my junior year to concentrate on math. i also ended up picking up a physics minor and am now in graduate school for math.
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