Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is this program suitable for me?

  1. Jul 24, 2010 #1
    Alright, so at the moment I am registered in a physics-chemistry double majors program, but I have some compunctions about whether this is the best program for me. My eventual ambition is to do something at the crossroads of physics and chemistry, like nanoelectronics or something. (I will post my sched below).

    My biggest concern is the lack of math. I also worry that I'm replacing important physics with chemistry I won't eventually need. Don't get me wrong, I like chemistry a lot; it's just that my first love is physics, and I feel like I'm really skimming the physics with this program.

    That being said, it's much easier to self-study physics and math, and I'm more than willing to do some independent study to make up for lost material.

    So P-F, what would recommend: should I stick with this, or switch into a pure physics major?

    U1 Required Courses
    (30 credits)
    CHEM 223 (2) Introductory Physical Chemistry 1
    CHEM 243 (2) Introductory Physical Chemistry 2
    CHEM 253 (1) Introductory Physical Chemistry 1 Laboratory
    CHEM 263 (1) Introductory Physical Chemistry 2 Laboratory
    MATH 247 (3) Honours Applied Linear Algebra
    MATH 248 (3) Honours Advanced Calculus
    MATH 249 (3) Honours Complex Variables
    MATH 325 (3) Honours Ordinary Differential Equations
    PHYS 241 (3) Signal Processing
    PHYS 251 (3) Honours Classical Mechanics 1
    PHYS 257 (3) Experimental Methods 1
    PHYS 258 (3) Experimental Methods 2
    U2 Required Courses
    (24 credits)
    CHEM 212 (4) Introductory Organic Chemistry 1
    CHEM 281 (3) Inorganic Chemistry 1
    CHEM 355 (3) Molecular Properties and Structure 2
    CHEM 365 (2) Statistical Thermodynamics
    COMP 208 (3) Computers in Engineering
    PHYS 350 (3) Honours Electricity and Magnetism
    PHYS 357 (3) Honours Quantum Physics 1
    PHYS 457 (3) Honours Quantum Physics 2
    U3 Required Courses
    (14 credits)
    CHEM 393 (2) Physical Chemistry Laboratory 2
    CHEM 556 (3) Advanced Quantum Mechanics
    CHEM 574 (3) Introductory Polymer Chemistry
    PHYS 352 (3) Honours Electromagnetic Waves
    PHYS 558 (3) Solid State Physics
    U3 Complementary Courses
    (12 credits)
    (with at least 3 credits in Chemistry and 3 credits in Physics)
    3 credits selected from:
    CHEM 593 (3) Statistical Mechanics
    PHYS 559 (3) Advanced Statistical Mechanics
    9 credits selected from:
    CHEM 480D1 /D2 (3) Research Project 2
    and CHEM 490D1/D2 (3) Research Project 3
    CHEM 531 (3) Chemistry of Inorganic Materials
    CHEM 575 (3) Chemical Kinetics
    CHEM 585 (3) Colloid Chemistry
    MATH 375 (3) Honours Partial Differential Equations
    PHYS 434 (3) Optics
    PHYS 451 (3) Honours Classical Mechanics 2
    PHYS 469 (3) Honours Laboratory in Modern Physics 2
    PHYS 479 (3) Honours Research Project
    PHYS 562 (3) Electromagnetic Theory
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 24, 2010 #2
    I would say that if your career goals are for something that's in between physics and chemistry, a chemistry degree might be a little excessive. It seems like a lot of the chemistry courses are catered more towards people going into biological sciences and chemical engineering. I think that if you want to go into nano stuff, a physics degree will be fine if you supplement it with maybe a chem minor or something like that. Try to get into the chemistry classes that would help in the fields you're looking into, like physical and quantum chemistry, but things like organic probably wouldn't help you much. A chemistry degree would never hurt, but it looks like you're having to sacrifice physics and math courses in order to fit everything in. Are you planning on getting a PhD?
  4. Jul 24, 2010 #3
    Yes, I once I'm done I plan on applying to graduate school.

    Looking at the courses again, the advantage of the chemistry is that it gives me a more advanced quantum mech class. The only really useless course is the organic chemistry...a lot of the other chemistry courses seem to be on topics that I would have otherwise taken had I elected to have a pure physics course.

    In short, I'm confused...
  5. Jul 24, 2010 #4
    Yeah, actually at first I only briefly skimmed over it. Most of those classes probably would be helpful in some way. How many more electives do you have with that program?
  6. Jul 24, 2010 #5
    I'm exactly where you are now. I was able to finish my chemistry degree within 2 years but am deciding to stay to pick up a double major with physics. feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.

    few topics: quantum in the undergraduate chem is a joke compared to physics. if you intend on double majoring between the two, see if you can double count some classes (like quantum, stat mech, or thermo).

    the reason i choose chemistry is because it was so incredibly broad and I didnt know what i wanted to do when i came to college. now i know, so im moving more towards physics (and possibly some more math). the downside of chemistry being incredibly broad a lot of the classes in undergraduate lack the depth, especially in the math aspect. and dont worry about learning/not learning math in math classes. you'll learn tons of math in the physics classes (same applies to engr majors).

    the area of science you seem to be interested is more broadly known as condensed matter physics.
    In terms of course work, i would recommend a pure physics major (its what i wish i did) and take general chemistry to get an understanding of basic chemical principles. possibly inorganic if it has a more physical (as opposed to synthetic) emphasis. take classes on circuits and semiconductor physics to supplement your education. another class(es) of interest would be analytical/physical chemistry labs. these should provide you with a good introduction to various forms of instrumentation that you'll use (UV-Vis, AAS, FTIR, NMR).

    Also, I don't know where your curriculum is from. At my university, a professor can waive any prereqs for any student to take his/her class. the foundational physics classes (mechanics, e&m, and quantum) provide a great spring board to almost any physical science/engr class. So even though i didnt take statics and dynamics in the mechanical engr department, I can take a year long class in fluids because of my background in analytical mechanics.

    the only problem would be classes like polymer chemistry and what not. these would require a good understanding of chemical bonds, something you'll probably learn in organic chemistry first. try and look into a physical inorganic/organic chemistry class though.

    and please, ask me more questions. I went through this and want to be as helpful as possible. im not super familiar with your curriculum (its not american i assume), so im sorry if something doesnt make sense.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook