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Enough math in my physics program?

  1. Jun 13, 2012 #1
    Greetings, everyone!

    I'm going through my list of courses for my physics program, and it seems like there just isn't enough math.

    According to my course requirements, I basically need: Calc I, II, III (obviously), Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations I.
    The rest of the requirements state that I need 10 additional credits of science, math, and/or engineering. Technically, I don't need anything beyond one semester of DEs if I wanted to take engineering or advanced CS courses or something.

    I had considered completing a math minor, because if I use up my 10 credits with math, I only need two or three more classes for it (not sure, it would add one or two more semesters to my already very lengthy degree [due to a major change and a late start]). But I've been told that when you have a physics degree, you pretty much have a math minor anyway, even if it's not official, so if you wanted to go into math either in work or grad school, you probably wouldn't have a huge problem. Is this true? I also understand that the physics courses themselves will be mostly math, so I'm not sure if I should be worrying about specific math courses, or if the physics courses will teach any additional math at the same time.

    A little about me: I'm planning on going into astrophysics for grad school. I enjoy math and will probably take more even if I don't have to, but would engineering or anything else benefit me for astrophysics? Or should I just fill up my 10 credits with math? Would it be a disaster if I take quantum mechanics and don't have enough math courses under my belt at the time? I already have a background in programming/scripting/CS (I worked in IT for a year and took classes in Java, with C++ next semester), so I'm not too worried about that at this point.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2012 #2


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    My advice regarding extra mathematics as a physics major is only take it for its own sake, not for its application to physics. The mathematics courses outside those required for the physics major are likely very abstract by comparison, and I can almost guarantee you will find little to no use for them in your coursework. This isn't to say that it isn't useful, but just that its use is above that of the standard undergraduate physics curriculum, and even most graduate work. So if you go into it expecting to enhance your comprehension of physics, you'll likely be disappointed.
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