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Engineering, phsyics, and med school questions

  1. Mar 5, 2010 #1
    Short version: skip straight to bolded questions.

    I'm a senior in highschool trying to figure out what I want to study and what I want my career to be.

    My main interest is physics, however job prospects seem poor for a physics major. I'd like a decent salary...one that can comfortably support a family and give me the luxury to, for the most part, get what I want.

    So, this leads me to engineering. EE is most interesting to me since it seems to be closest to a physics major. However, ME seems like you can build cooler things. I'd do aerospace, but ME seems like a safer bet job wise.

    At the same time my parents are encouraging me to become a doctor. Being a doctor doesn't sound very appealing to me, except for it makes good money. I'd like to fulfull the pre-med requirements to keep my doors open, however.

    Currently, my plan is something along the lines of majoring in ME or EE while fullfilling pre-med requirements, and after 4 years get my masters, or go onto med school.

    So this leads to some questions:

    1. Does my major matter when applying to med-school? Can I full-fill the pre-med requirements, still graduate in 4 years, and be a competetive canditate for med school as an engineering major? Specifically EE or ME.

    2. If I study EE or ME is it wise to get a masters? Is it possible to get a masters in EE or ME, AND fullfull the pre-mid requirements in a timely fasion?

    3. How difficult would it be to double major in physics and EE or ME.

    4. What woud be preffered when applying for jobs, med school, or another grad school: double major, or a masters?

    5. If I want to get into military defense related careers, what majors should I look at?

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2010 #2


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    1. No your major doesn't matter when applying to medical school, so long as you have the admission requirements. Engineering majors are competative when applying. The only possible downside is that a major with a heavy workload will make it difficult to maximize your marks compared to more easy majors.

    2. This depends on what you want to do, but med school requirements are usually just a few basic first year courses. In addition to the standard first year engineering requirements you would have to take biology and perhaps organic chemistry, which could be picked up as electives at any point during your undergraduate degree.

    3. I would assign the difficulty level an arbitrary number of five. Seriously, picking up another major essentially eliminates your electives and you have to balance this against broadening your education by taking some humanites/social science courses which allow your brain to switch gears once in a while.

    4. This generally depends on the job, but a double major isn't anything special except in very specific circumstances. A master's degree is an advanced degree and will open more doors.

    5. The military takes a broad spectrum of degrees, so you can take essentially whatever you want. You might want to speak to a recruiter to investigate what career options are available.

    6. I know you didn't ask, but you stated that your main interest is physics. Job prospects for physics majors aren't all that bad compared to engineering majors. Make sure that you make your career decisions based on data rather than anecdotes. I would recommend browsing the AIP statistics.
  4. Mar 12, 2010 #3
    Thanks Choppy.

    Hmm, interesting and better then I expected.

    That aside, how difficult would the following double majors be, relative to eachother:
    Physics, Electrical Engineering
    Physics, Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering
    Physics, Computer Science

    Which overlap the most?

  5. Mar 14, 2010 #4
    I think it depends on your school. At Texas A&M Aerospace Engineering, we're required to take only three physics classes, plus a few technical electives towards your junior and senior years. That is nowhere near the amount of physics classes you would require for a Physics bachelors. Furthermore, I would hazard a guess that Mech/Aero is by far the most oriented towards physics.

    In addition, I don't know how things are done elsewhere, but at Texas A&M Aerospace, we're only required to take Calculus I, II and III, plus a Differential Equations class. A cursory scan of the prerequisites for physics classes shows that you would need extensive mathematics just to take your physics courses. In a sense, you would be doing almost three majors -- and not to scare you off, but Aerospace is one of the hardest majors in existence, and I hear Physics is no slouch either.

    I think you would be better off discussing it with the school of your choice, and seeing whether you could take a Physics degree into Engineering grad school, or an Engineering degree into Physics grad school, rather than attempting the double major.
  6. Mar 14, 2010 #5
    A few of my friends in school doubled in EE and physics. Electrical, mechanical, or aerospace engineering will all set you up well for an engineering job in the defense industry if that is what you are interested in. Extra math courses will probably help most for engineering grad school. Engineering or physics along with premed requirements will probably keep you busy enough if that is what you are interested in. I double majored in mechanical engineering and philosophy and that combination was extremely helpful when going for industry jobs and more of a management track (vs a technical/research track).

    The national average starting salary for EEs (or MEs etc) is about $60k right now. I would not become a doctor for the money. There are other ways to make the same or more money, many of which can be reached by starting your career as an engineer. There are still plenty of good reasons to go to med school though, if that's what you're into.
  7. Mar 14, 2010 #6
    CS is usually the easiest to double up because it often has the most electives/least core courses. The other engineering majors tend to have way more major courses, but it depends on the school. The actual CS/other overlap tends to be tiny to non-existent, but again it depends on the school/program.

    You may also want to look at BME: they build lots of really cool things and rack up most of the pre-med requirements.
  8. Apr 4, 2010 #7
    Is it common to get your undergrad in engineering, and then go to grad school for physics? What about the other way around?
  9. Apr 4, 2010 #8
    This is my question too! Does any one care to answer?
  10. Apr 5, 2010 #9


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    The most common route is obviously to go from undergraduate physics into graduate physics, but most schools will accept various disciplines of engineering as a 'closely related discipline' depending on the specific courses that you've taken at the undergraduate level.
  11. Apr 5, 2010 #10
    Very true, but your MSATs matter a hell of a lot, so it makes sense to prepare for them at least. A good academic history + great MSATs = Excellent Medical School.

    Did I mention that the MSATs aren't the hardest thing in the world?... although to be fair the LSATs make look like Number Theory. :biggrin: I have a good friend who finished his LSATs (law) an hour early, thinking time was up. He apparantly stood, and handed in his form, in front of a combination of startled and a bit annoyed testees.

    Did I mention that he realized his error an hour or two later? He scored near the top... that... is your public defender. :cries:

    Actually, he's an incredibly well connected lawyer now, but he's a smart guy so I don't think Law School had anything to do with it. :smile:
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