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Electrical Engineering vs Physics vs Computer Science

  1. Feb 27, 2014 #1


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    I'm a high school senior and I'm going to tech school in the Fall. I applied and was admitted as an EE major, but I am also interested in possibly getting a degree in computer science or Physics instead. I always thought that EE was cool, but I also would be interested in being a computer scientist or physicist as well.

    I've always been interested in computers and started using them since I was 3 and I know a bit of programming and think some of it is interesting. Then again, I am also interested in electronics as well and think they are interesting, too.

    I'm not sure what degree to get and I'm transferring a lot of community college classes to a university so I'll have less time to make my decision.

    Also, I have heard that computer science and EE majors make a ton of money after graduation, but physicist don't make as much.

    I'm not sure what major to pick and I'm going to college in the Fall and I have to make a class schedule accordingly. What do you guys recommend?
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  3. Feb 27, 2014 #2


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    EE is a very broad field.

    As an EE typically you can take some CS courses.
    As an EE you also may end up taking classes that require electromagnetic knowledge that you would learn in physics.

    I would recommend thinking about what you want to do when you are older. If you had to make a decision now, I would recommend going EE to start. Worst case senerio you lose a semester and double back to CS or physics.

    Note i'm biased im an EE
  4. Feb 27, 2014 #3
    You have lots to time to decide what you want to do, but keep in mind of the three things you mentioned a physics degree will likely be least useful when you’re looking for a job after school (assuming the job market doesn’t do something very unexpected). IMO for what it’s worth, if you feel really strongly about majoring in physics I’d say go ahead and do physics, but if it’s a competition between physics and something else do the something else.
  5. Feb 27, 2014 #4


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  6. Feb 27, 2014 #5
    I am a physicist but I agree with Donpacino. EE is a very broad field and you may find your yearning for physics is entirely satisfied within the EE discipline. Most EE's do a great deal of computing as well. I think the monetary situation for physicists is improving (I graduated 35 years ago) but I think EE continues to have the edge.
  7. Feb 27, 2014 #6
    Go EE. You definitely won't have a problem going to Grad School for CS. Depending on what you specialize in you can go to grad school for Physics. One of my colleagues is a leading researcher in String Theory and he did his undergrad in EE.
  8. Feb 28, 2014 #7
    It's whatever you prefer, honestly. CS and EE are both solid degrees that lead down very different pathways, generally speaking.

    I did a year in CS and a year in EET, I prefer EE/EET. I chose EET because it is more hands on than EE and I am a hands on kinda guy, and I already have electrical and electronics experience that will apply towards nearly any job I will get with an EET degree. When I say EET, I mean the 4 year degree from an ABET accredited university, not just the 2 year CC degree.

    EE does seem to make more starting out than a CS degree, but with both the sky is the limit when it comes to income.

    Also, do you know any programming languages? You will have to learn some in a CS degree, so if you do not like to program you may not like getting your CS degree.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  9. Feb 28, 2014 #8
    At my university you can get a dual degree in EE and CS with only one extra year of study. Might be worth looking into.
  10. Mar 3, 2014 #9

    Stephen Tashi

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    What is your tolerance for detailed nit-picky tasks?

    I have the impression that CS people cannot avoid courses that involve many clerical aspects. (Perhaps its unfair to characterize the art of programming as having clerical aspects, but I will.) Glance at a text on compiler design and you'll see what I mean.

    I think EE's get in the same extremes of detail in courses involving programming digital devices. I don't know whether a modern EE major can side step those. Perhaps he can if he specializes in power systems.

    It would be interesting to hear comments on whether the modern physics majors can avoid doing a lot of computer programming or similar tasks.
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