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Courses Is Astro/Math sufficient to succeed in physics grad school?

  1. Jun 5, 2016 #1
    I'm currently entering my second year in college so I'm kind of worried about declaring my major. Originally I was planning on doubling in astrophysics and physics but then I was wondering about combining astrophysics and mathematics. I thought this would be good because
    a) I like math and I want to do upper-division mathematics
    b) I heard (from a lot of people, but not advisors or professors) that double majoring in physics and astrophysics is redundant, especially for hopes of grad school so math and astro would look better
    c) Grade-wise I'm a whole lot better at math than I am at physics
    d) Otherwise I don't think my math skills would be sufficient for grad school

    The problem is that I want to go to grad school for experimental physics, not really astrophysics since I would think it is more applicable (and I don't like the idea of doing grad math). Besides I like general experimental physics anyways. Another thing is that the only upper-division physics courses that I would be taking would be just quantum mechanics, thermal physics, stellar physics, and general relativity with some math classes to help and the possibility of one grad course so no advanced mechanics, optics, or E&M. If I do physics and astrophysics it would be a lot of physics but with only two "mathematics for physics majors" classes that I would want to replace with general advanced mathematics classes.

    Basically if I do physics and astro it looks better but I have less math skills however if I do math and astro I get to do more math but my upper-division physics is lacking. I think minoring in either physics or mathematics wouldn't be too good of an option since for physics I would still lack the necessary physics courses and for math I'm taking so many math classes anyways that I might as well get the major. Also I absolutely cannot fit a double major in physics and mathematics in my schedule.

    I know I say I want to major is astrophysics a lot so my plan was to take those classes now since I would not really have a lot of time to in grad school (you know since astrophysics doesn't seem to be as applicable in case I can't do research or any other job in it). Also the limitation is I have to stick this to four years since parents, money, and the fact that I've only gotten one small scholarship in the past year and the fact that I can't get a side job and declare independence for financial aid.

    So after all of this nonsense, can any of you guys give me advice on what to do or any more pros and cons about either choice? Any incorrect ideas I might have about college or grad school in general? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S. Sorry for this (basically) short essay
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 5, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    If you want to enter physics graduate school, the best choice for an undergraduate degree is physics.
  4. Jun 5, 2016 #3
    Absolutely you will want your major to be physics, not astrophysics. Can't you major in physics and do a minor in both math and astrophysics? Or is that too much?
  5. Jun 5, 2016 #4
    The problem is that it would be too much for either minor assuming I was going to major in only physics. At my school, the astrophysics, mathematics, and physics minors are all designed so packed with courses that I would really only need at most two extra classes to major in it. At that point I might as well major in the subjects since I would have extra time.
  6. Jun 5, 2016 #5
    Got it. Well, I really recommend a major in physics. Whether you add a major in astro or a major in math to that seems to be up to you.
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