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Engineering/Math double major - Advice?

  1. Aug 12, 2012 #1
    I'm in a position right now where I am having much stronger feelings towards mathematics than my current major - biological engineering.

    My situation:
    I have not yet taken a proof based math class but I am more interested in applied math, creating mathematical models. The issue is that my school does not offer an applied math degree (only "pure") but I can take applied math classes as electives. I've mapped out my four year schedule and found that I can double major in both math and engineering but I will have to take two semesters with 19 hours (6 courses) of purely math & engineering. I have a 4.0 right now and would like to keep my GPA up around a 3.7 at least, in order to be competitive for graduate school.

    I'm guessing that most people will tell me to forget about the math major and just take relevant applied math courses that match my interests. This would make sense, except for that I'm looking at graduate programs in applied math as well as computational engineering. From what I've seen on most applied math websites is that they require the Math GRE subject test, and the only way that I would feel at all prepared for that is to double major in math, forcing me to take the pure classes.

    Is it even physically possible to double major and do research 12 hours a week? (I am a very hard worker)
    Should I forget about the double major and just take the more relevant applied math courses and try my hand at applied math programs?

    Any and all advice is much appreciated :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2012 #2
    People who double major do go to graduate school, if that's what you're asking.

    Heads up: I'm starting college next year but here's what I think anyway.

    If taking too many courses in one particular semester is concern for you, then perhaps stay in school for another semester or two. You also won't know if you can handle that kind of workload until you try taking more courses. If the amount you're taking now is already too high, then loading up on more is probably gonna be a bad move.

    If not that, then don't double major. Take the required pure and applied math courses you need. You don't really *require* the certification now, do you? One thing some colleges have is both a B.A variant of the B.S degree. If that would be more convenient for you, try that out. B.A/B.S...to-may-toes/to-mah-toes. At least you'll have the "certification".
  4. Aug 12, 2012 #3
    I appreciate your advice.

    Yes I guess it was a bit confusing the way I phrased it, but I am well aware that double majors go to graduate school :)

    I would stay an extra semester or two but my adviser tells me that it's a waste to spend an extra year as an undergrad taking classes that I could just take while in a masters/PhD program as "remedial" courses. Also, I took 19 hours last semester but they were MUCH easier classes. 6 classes total but only 3 were math/science/engineering. My biggest worry though is taking on too much and ending up ruining my GPA...
    And the math requirements for the BA math degree is identical to the BS degree.

    Has anyone heard of a person who has transitioned from engineering/science to applied math for graduate school? I've heard of physics but that's about it.
  5. Aug 12, 2012 #4
    The math GRE emphasizes calculus and linear algebra more than anything, but I would say you ought to have at least 2 or 3 "pure" math classes like real analysis (preferably 2 semesters), and abstract algebra.

    If you are interested in applied math, I would say you better take a course in real analysis. Then, you could possibly try to study the rest of the material on your own. You don't always have to take classes. But I would say take at least one class to get going on it.
  6. Aug 12, 2012 #5
    I know of a mech eng professor at my school who got a mech eng bs, and then an applied math masters before getting his mech eng phd, most of his work revolves around solving pde's.

    A math professor at my school got his bs in physics and his phd in math, his work is differential geometry so not exactly applied but still.
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