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Engineering Engineering Physics degree and employment

  1. Sep 9, 2010 #1
    I'm a 2nd year Engineering Physics and Mathematics major, and I have loved all the classes I have taken thus far. I took some college classes in high school and received some credit through AP tests, so I'm already a semester and 1/2 ahead of most of my peers. I plan on going to grad school for Physics (still undecided between astrophysics and particle physics), but I know life can throw all sorts of wonderful things at you :cry:, so I may need to become employed for a short time after I get my BS instead of going straight to grad school.

    Here are my questions.

    1. Considering I will only need to take one extra semester of classes, is it worth throwing in a double major with Mathematics for employability's sake?

    2. Should I throw in a minor on top of my double major (yet again, for employability's sake)? If so, what should my minor be (a list of good options would be great)?

    3. I'm interested in just about anything science, math, teaching, or engineering related, but I would prefer that my temporary job would involve as much research or high end technological work as possible. Plus, I will want to make a good salary, so I can get myself out of what ever bind I am in at the time as fast as possible. Thus, like wise, I can get back to grad school as fast as possible. Does that seem feasible?

    No matter what, I'm going to stay as an Engineering Physics major because I love Physics and really want to become a Physics professor. :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2010 #2
    In my opinion, the math double major is going to be a lot more impressive to graduate schools than to employers, just because there is no way an undergraduate physics program can cram enough math and computer science courses into the degree program.

    Conversely, I am not certain how much it will impress employers, but my guess is a lot less. You would be basically graduating with two degrees (physics and mathematics) that tell employers that you are technically qualified, but do not really market themselves. There are not a whole lot of jobs out there where companies are specifically recruiting math and physics majors, but there are many jobs available (even in this economy) for people with those types of skills. If you know how to market your physics or math skills, you can land a job, because companies are always looking for people who have demonstrated the ability to learn difficult technical subjects, and a already somewhat proficient in math, programing, lab techniques and experimentation, physical principles, et cetera. Along those lines, I am not sure how much the double major would help, but it cannot hurt to show an employer that you have a more diverse set of skills than someone with one degree. It is not exactly equivalent to what I view as a largely pointless double major in two humanities/art/social science subjects (except perhaps something with an employable skill, like foreign language).

    The bad news is that there are a lot more experienced people competing for most of those same jobs, and the double major is probably not going to help much. Grad school might be your best option right now.
  4. Sep 9, 2010 #3
    Vociferous has it right. To employers, subsequent majors make a candidate marginally better, but not much so; unless the candidate can market it and demonstrate how the second major will contribute to the job as stated in the description. On the same track, employers almost universally ignore minors. You should pursue a minor out of personal interest, but not for employability.

    The good news, however, is that the math major, because it complements your engineering physics major, will be an asset when applying to grad school. If you intend to go to grad school in Physics, the strong math background will allow you to understand higher level physics (which is essentially just higher level math, with physical significance)
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