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Engineering Physics vs. Electrical Engineering

  1. Feb 15, 2008 #1
    Hi, I am in a dilemma right now and would like some honest opinions.

    I am currently a third year student in an Engineering Physics program. Right now I have no intention to go to graduate school in Physics or Math. My current plan is to work in the industry for a couple of years before I go back to get my Masters in EE if that's necessary. The reason I chose Engineering Physics as a major was because I liked Physics in high school and in my first year, also I believed that having a knowledge of advanced physics and math will help me in my engineering career. Recently however I found the program is a bit different than what I thought it would be. Though being called Engineering Physics, it is actually more physics oriented than engineering. While we do have the option of taking some EE/ME/CS classes, we do not learn the subjects as in depth as the EE/ME/CS guys. In addition, we have to learn a bunch of theoretical Physics or Math that I may never use in my engineering career unless I do research in the future. I do not mind taking those classes but they do require a lot of time and energy which can alternatively be used in developing my actual engineering skills. Also due to the diverse nature of the program, I found myself learning a bit of everything but nothing in depth.

    That's why I am considering a transfer to EE now. This is a difficult decision as I am already in my third year. I'd like people who have worked as an engineer or in an engineering field to give me some honest opinions and suggestions. Considering my situation and career goals, do you think staying in Engineering Physics is a good decision? Is it an advantage to my knowledge as diverse as possible or should I just focus on learning EE and make Physics a hobby?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2008 #2
    up, in the hope of getting an answer. If you have no patience to read the whole message, could somebody simply tell me: Is advanced physics knowledge useful in EE?
  4. Feb 18, 2008 #3
    It depends. For probably 80% or more of EE jobs, I would vote no. There are a few it could be helpful for, especially if you are going far into solid state physics.

    As for deciding between the two majors you mention, if you can't become a PE doing engineering physics, then go EE for certain. If you can. . . then it depends. I'd still vote EE, but there are downsides to that degree, the biggest being the sheer number of graduates each year.

    My opinion. I hope someone else will toss theirs in, too.
  5. Feb 18, 2008 #4
    Have you considered double majoring in EE and physics? I did this. It is a good combo if you want to go into the semiconductor/solid state device field.
  6. Feb 18, 2008 #5


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    Haveing a degree in engineering physics, I can say I would have made more money if I had went into EE. But with the physics degree, I was able to work in many interesting areas (fun stuff; a "jack of all trades", so to speak).
  7. Feb 18, 2008 #6

    That's what I am doing now since I am in Engineering Physics. But physics seems not very useful if I become a EE, so that's why I am asking.
  8. Feb 18, 2008 #7

    Tom Mattson

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    Carolyn, I was in the same predicament when I was in school. For a while I double majored in EE and EPhys, but I wanted to graduate on time so I had to dump one. I stuck with EPhys, which was great for me when I applied to graduate programs in Physics. But I really wish I had done that EE degree, because there are so many jobs that require it. Almost no employers ask for an EPhys degree by name, because it's so rare. And if you're applying for employment at a large corporation, a resume with "BSc EPhys" might not even make it past an automated filter.
  9. Jul 16, 2008 #8
    you wouldnt happen to be going to UIUC would you?

    I would recommend going into EE, there are more jobs and you will learn many of the advanced electricity stuff in EE, but on a more applied level (vs Physics which may go more into the theory). I know that if you are at Univ. of IL @ Urbana/Champaign, doing the double major doesnt require much extra time, but I would focus more on the EE degree and EPhys can be done if time permits (maybe 1 semester extra?)
  10. Jul 16, 2008 #9
    Well, you seem to * really* want to be an engineer, so an EE degree would help that along. With the engineering physics degree you are still have a physics degree and that is what people with engineering degrees will see on your resume.
    If you do not have to incur a large amount debt/cost etc, then switch.
  11. Jul 17, 2008 #10
    hmm i ahve taken an EP course yet to join college(IIT Madras incase u know what iit's are ) what i plana s of now is to be thru this EP course well enuf,get into a good univ either here in india or abroad do a masters in either physics or EE(that is in particular solid state physics) then get into some kinda job!!!
    i thought this was a better combo than EE+Solid state masters since EE lacks that theoritical Physics base in terms of job oppurtunity?
    i am ok with studying physics in fact i want to study physics and wud liek to avoid the Engg part of it
    what all is ur opinion?

    PS:My course is B.Tech EP and NOT Bsc EP
    this is the course if u want it!!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
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