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Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an undergrad?

  1. Jun 13, 2010 #1
    I am currently about half way through the process of getting a physics degree (emphasized in cosmology) and a applied math degree (emphasized in quantum mechanics).
    Now my parents think that these two majors are useless in getting jobs, and wants me to study something that will help me get a job quickly after graduation. In the end as a compromise, I added a computer science minor to my course plan. So my question is;
    1. If you are studying something that does not yet have many real life applications (like cosmology and quantum mechanics), do you have to go to grad school if you want a career that's related to those fields?
    2. In case I couldn't go to grad school and need a job to survive, how much would the computer science minor help?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2010 #2
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    Your parents are wrong.

    The thing about software companies is that they care a lot about programming ability, they don't care much about where you got the programming ability.
     
  4. Jun 13, 2010 #3
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    Yeah, I agree with twofish-quant. I'd say ignore your parents advice. They apparently don't know what they're talking about.

    And no need to bother with the computer science minor, if it's not something that interests you, and if you find yourself getting too bogged down to excel in your physics and math.
     
  5. Jun 13, 2010 #4
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    I guess Ill chime in with a (slightly) dissenting opinion. Getting a bachelors degree in physics with an emphasis on cosmology will not make you terribly marketable after graduation. Sure you will be able to get a job doing something, but it wont be related to cosmology or quantum like you said you want. If you pick up some useful skills like programming, that is great. If you want your career to revolve around cosmology/quantum physics then a graduate degree is pretty much required.
     
  6. Jun 13, 2010 #5
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    There are a couple of different issues here. Getting a bachelors in astrophysics will not necessarily get you a job in astrophysics, but getting a Ph.D. in astrophysics will not necessarily get you a job in astrophysics.

    Working on hard math problems and doing number crunching in computers will get you a job in something. This may not have anything to do with cosmology, but you aren't going to starve.
     
  7. Jun 13, 2010 #6
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    Not going to starve? Surely that is not what powerovergame is going for... I mean, even the homeless manage to eat - and you can do that without a degree!

    Also, sure, getting a PhD in astrophysics wont necessarily land you a job in astrophysics. But getting a BS in physics with an astro emphasis will necessarily not land you a job doing astrophysics.

    I believe that if you dont plan on doing graduate school, engineering would generally be a better choice than physics. If you change your mind along the way and get a physics degree but dont do grad school, your not completely assed out. But you are at a competitive disadvantage against the engineers. Im my personal case, I didnt major in physics to get a job I did it to gain the knowledge - and I got just that, knowledge and no job. :)

    In the end I agree with forgetting what the parents think. If you like physics and cosmology study it up, you may not be a professional in those fields but you can probably find something good to do.
     
  8. Jun 14, 2010 #7
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    You'll gain plenty of marketable skills from astrophysics and math. You'll have the ability to solve difficult problems, probably pick up some good modelling and programming basics as well as having the same, coveted, process of thinking that comes with any physics undergraduate.

    Like others have said, you may not necessarily end up with a job in astrophysics - what's important at the end of your degree, when you're just looking for a job, is to know what marketable skills you have. Problem solving is a great one, and is the reason that physics graduates are so employable. Companies with graduate programmes will always be open for you to apply to, even engineering positions - large scale companies like to do a lot of their training on the job.

    Otherwise, I don't see any need for the CS minor but I guess if you have the time and will, it won't do any harm.
     
  9. Jun 14, 2010 #8
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp

    Math and physics aren't the end of the world. That said, on average computer/tech skills go a lot further than QM skills do in the real world. If you are looking for a programming job immediately after college, a minor in CS wouldn't be a bad idea in the least.

    If you want to stay in something like cosmology, I'd recommend you pursue a graduate degree.

    Honestly, its getting to the point that most physics/math degrees should require a year of programming. If you stay in the field there is a good chance you'll do some (or lots), and if you leave the field, its a decent job skill (lot of bang for the buck compared to most of the classes you will take).
     
  10. Jun 26, 2010 #9
    Re: Is Grad School Required if you study Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology as an underg

    thanks for the help everyone. You guys are extremely informative.
     
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