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Getting a double degree in math and physics

  1. Oct 1, 2011 #1

    Of course, I am thinking way too far ahead. I am just a high school student. This year, I will apply for universities. I am quite certain that any major that I consider will involve quantitative methods but I cannot decide what to specialise. I love both math and physics. I perhaps will apply for joint math-physics or double major them. It seems like lots of universities offer joint math-physics programme but I haven't found any that offers the joint in graduate level. Perhaps when it comes to graduate level, materials become too specific and we really have to focus on our specialities.

    But I really want to pursue academics in number theory and elementry particle physics. If I don't make tenure, I am also considering quantitative finance option so in weekends, I satisfy my intellectual desire. Is realisitc to get a phd in number theory and elementry particle physics?

    I will give myself some serious thought about this during my university when I face the actual math and physics, maybe by then I will have more clear picture of my future. But since I first I have to apply for universities, I will appreciate some advices from experienced people in forum.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2011 #2
    I think it's WAY too early to decide which sub-field you're likely to choose in grad school right now. Just focus on learning as much mathematics and physics as you can in college and eventually you'll find out what areas you like the most. Even a lot of graduate students in their first year haven't decided which field they'll be entering. As for entering grad school for number theory AND particle physics, it seems highly unlikely that a school would be offering such a program. Like you said, normally your sub-field is quite specific, and these two topics seem quite different.
  4. Oct 2, 2011 #3
    Hey!! I am planning to study math and physics in university of toronto next year too
    I was thinking of specializing on both degree
    As for graduate school, I think it would be too early to decide
    I mean we haven't really learned physics yet. I am currently interested in learning string theory (due to popular science) but I am sure it will change on my first 2 months of university
    Nice to meet you :)
  5. Oct 2, 2011 #4
    He guys

    As I mentioned above, I thought it is too early to declare my subspecialities. But the reason I am asking for advice is, I am applying to universities this year. I am considering University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, McGill University, University of British Columbia, and one more university in Ontario (becasue of OUAC...lol). If I decide to major only math, I would definitely go to Waterloo, since Waterloo is undoubtfully one of the best in Canada. However, what about physics? I heard that there are research institution nearby, (IQC and PI), but do undergraduates have access to these facilities?
  6. Oct 2, 2011 #5
    Go outside the states where you can specialise in your undergraduate studies.
  7. Oct 2, 2011 #6
    I heard that IQC can be used by students for research (quantum computers have bright future for sure). I have the same question as you about PI though. I hear that even though it is really close, you can't really get involved in PI unless you are actually part of the institute. But I am sure you can listen to amazing lectures once in a while
    I like both physics and math and hence I am applying to math and physics specialist program this winter. I am also going to apply to waterloo for the same subject
    U of T has great research programs so I think it is best to study physics there.

    p.s. I like how you just ignored me completely :p but I am cool with that, lol
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  8. Oct 2, 2011 #7
    and I also "heard" that waterloo's science faculty isn't as strong as other universities
    I did hang around in physics forums for a while talking to some people who goes to different universities but I am only in grade 12 so take my advice too seriously tehehee

    I think I said this already but i will say it again; I am in the exact if not similar situation as you are in. I like to plan out my future so I am can follow it. After days of research, I figured UofT would be best if you are studying both math and physics.
    I am also thinking of becoming a tenured prof, and if not I will try quant too
    Seems like tenure is very hard to get *sad face
  9. Oct 2, 2011 #8
    hmm, I am not smart enough to make Cambridge or Oxford. In case of Imperial College London, tuition fees for non eu overseas students are extremely high!
  10. Oct 2, 2011 #9
    hamsterpower7, I have no intention to ignore a particular person. Sorry about that but since you said you are cool with that,,, haha.
    Yeah this is one of my concerns to actually. But seems like in supermassive schools like U of T, there are about thousands of students in a lecture room. I am also considering McGill. But I don't know if I can be admitted thus je ne parle pas francais!
  11. Oct 2, 2011 #10


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    Those are not the only universities outside of the United States....

    Besides, you have to choose a field at some point in time. Not being able to commit to something is a major weakness --- there's a good chance that it will prevent you from reaching excellence in any of the fields you are interested in. Don't confuse high school with university. Even if you easily aced every subject in high school, in univerisity that won't work because your co-students are much better (and thus you're held to a higher standard) and even mundane single sub fields (e.g., classical mechanics) are open ended (you'll never know everything you want to know about something. There is always more. And there is no agreed upon syllabus).

    If you like both math and physics equally well, then throw a dice. That's better than trying to go full scale for both.
  12. Oct 2, 2011 #11
    yup i am fine

    first year is generally big but when it gets to third and fourth year, you can count the number of people with your fingers (math&physics specialist)
  13. Oct 2, 2011 #12
    So if we survive in the first and second year, we don't need to worry about the quality of lecture rooms.

    Back to universities, I know Waterloo is really strong in math, but I don't know if they are really good in pure math. Statiscally UW has won the putnam contest the most among candian unversities. But they only promote their co-op programmes. I believe majority of the programme they offer are designed those who do not want to continue school and begin their career right away.
  14. Oct 2, 2011 #13
    yeah it seems like they want to make a lot of financially related mathematicians...
    do you live in Ontario?
  15. Oct 2, 2011 #14
  16. Oct 2, 2011 #15
    Guess I can't answer my question untill I actually encounter university math and physics. But still double majoring in math and physics is not too bad in the sense that I will have some taste of each subject right?

    So it seems like it is impossible to get double phds. Has anyone seen anyone who has two phd dgrees? (Except Dr. Sheldon Cooper!)
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  17. Oct 2, 2011 #16
    No I live in Halifax
  18. Oct 4, 2011 #17
    but for undergraduate, does the department really matter? undergrudate can hardly access to facilities, right? I think the only thing that really matters is the quality of professors. Do they teach well?
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