Major early in Mathematics, Graduate school for physics?

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  • #1
RJLiberator
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My Current Situation:
I am currently a second semester sophomore at university going for a double major (BS in Physics and BS in mathematics). I went to college to get a physics degree . The mathematics degree is added on because I love mathematics and due to my strange circumstances had quite a lot of credit hours to fill as a sequentially go through my physics curriculum.

To get my beloved BS in Physics, I would have to be here the next 2.5 years (graduate after Spring 2018).

However, I only need 1.5 years to graduate with a BS in Mathematics. (graduate in Spring 2017).

My question
If I were to just get my BS in Mathematics and go to graduate school (just to keep things simple, lets say I go to graduate school at my same university), could I go to graduate school for physics?
I have heard that this is true.
Would I be able to finish my few classes for my BS in Physics degree while I am in graduate school. (again, assuming I am at the same school, same curriculum).

At the end of the day, I came to school to get a BS in physics, not a BS in mathematics.
I will do the 2.5 years as I originally planned, but if there is a way to make myself a graduate student earlier, that would certainly help financially and professionally, I imagine.

Opinions on this? Thank you.
 

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  • #2
Dr. Courtney
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While it may be possible (depending on your PGRE scores and the grad school), I can't recommend trying grad school in Physics without completing a BS degree first.
 
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Vanadium 50
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I don't see what you are gaining here. You will still have to take the undergrad physics classes, so you aren't saving any time.
 
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ZapperZ
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If I were to just get my BS in Mathematics and go to graduate school (just to keep things simple, lets say I go to graduate school at my same university), could I go to graduate school for physics?
Why haven't you ask this to your academic advisor, or a professor at your school? He/she knows a lot more about (i) your academic standing (ii) your academic background, and (iii) the requirement for the PhD program at that school and similar schools, and can tell if you have the necessary background to go into such program!

So why not ask someone who might know quite a bit more about this, and about you, then some strangers on a forum? The resources are available almost at your fingertips here.

Zz.
 
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RJLiberator
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Why haven't you ask this to your academic advisor, or a professor at your school? He/she knows a lot more about (i) your academic standing (ii) your academic background, and (iii) the requirement for the PhD program at that school and similar schools, and can tell if you have the necessary background to go into such program!
Just thought of this 'strategy' now. Wanted to gain some opinions if it was logical.

I don't see what you are gaining here. You will still have to take the undergrad physics classes, so you aren't saving any time.
Perhaps so. I have been a undergrad for around 6+ years of my life now, and still have another 1.5-2.5 years left. I figured it would be a good idea to become a graduate student and get going there.

It seems the responses are mostly "you'll need more physics," which is fine by me.

Thank you.
 
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Dr. Courtney
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My Current Situation:
I am currently a second semester sophomore at university going for a double major (BS in Physics and BS in mathematics).
Perhaps so. I have been a undergrad for around 6+ years of my life now, and still have another 1.5-2.5 years left. I figured it would be a good idea to become a graduate student and get going there.
I'm not sure how it took 6+ years to become a second semester sophomore, but in most cases like this, there are some bad grades involved.

Taking 2.5 more years and finishing the Physics degree will also give you more time to earn more As and Bs and bring the GPA up and create a record of success, maybe some research also, and put those bad grades further in your past. 3+ years of good performance will be more appealing to grad schools.
 
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RJLiberator
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I'm not sure how it took 6+ years to become a second semester sophomore, but in most cases like this, there are some bad grades involved.
My first semester I dropped out when I was 18. Took a year off, went to another semester, finished some electives (got 3 C's which are my worst grades as an undergrad). Took another year off. Then worked primarily (full time) and went to part time school for around about 2 years (unfortunately, much of the courses here were: algebra 1, trig, and other courses that have no credit for a physics/math degree). Now I have been in university for about 1.5-2 years and crushing it. I have a rather high overall GPA and a very high major related GPA.
This is also why I am double-majoring since I have all my electives far out of the way and need to fill courses to go with my physics sequence.

Taking 2.5 more years and finishing the Physics degree will also give you more time to earn more As and Bs and bring the GPA up and create a record of success, maybe some research also, and put those bad grades further in your past. 3+ years of good performance will be more appealing to grad schools.
I feel like I am building a great 'resume' if you will, I am currently researching at my university and plan on interning this summer.
 
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Dr. Courtney
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I feel like I am building a great 'resume' if you will, I am currently researching at my university and plan on interning this summer.
I went to your site and noticed your videos. I may be wrong about this, but I've through for a while that a series of quality videos that explained things well and articulately with lots of views could be quite a resume enhancement both for grad school applications and down the road for teaching jobs.
 
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  • #9
RJLiberator
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I completely agree. That was a vision I had years ago when I started undergrad at University. Unfortunately, I have learned the difficulty of teaching this material vs. just being a student ;). Each video takes me quite some time. Perhaps the better route for me is to stick with more elementary courses/videos, but the internet is flooded with resources there so the demand is likely low. My best video with views seems to be the proof of the binomial theorem.
 
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Dr. Courtney
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I completely agree. That was a vision I had years ago when I started undergrad at University. Unfortunately, I have learned the difficulty of teaching this material vs. just being a student ;). Each video takes me quite some time. Perhaps the better route for me is to stick with more elementary courses/videos, but the internet is flooded with resources there so the demand is likely low. My best video with views seems to be the proof of the binomial theorem.
4000+ views in 8 months is excellent for one video. As I see it, there are two possible routes to enhancing the resume with videos: one is to stick with elementary topics and gather views from a number of videos. This would tend to show people that you are articulate, explain things well, and don't put people to sleep. The other approach is to work with more advanced material where there is less competition, but also much smaller audiences. This would tend to show people how smart you really are, but the videos tend to take longer.

In either case, you can grow your audiences by adding links to the video media section of the Physics Forums here:

https://www.physicsforums.com/media/add

I added links to 30 of my wife's intro physics videos yesterday, and they've gotten several hundred views in 24 hours after taking five years to accrue 50k views on YouTube.
 
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RJLiberator
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I added links to 30 of my wife's intro physics videos yesterday, and they've gotten several hundred views in 24 hours after taking five years to accrue 50k views on YouTube.
That's some really impressive numbers. I will keep that in mind.
 
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mathwonk
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physics grad students who did not major in physics do exist. it may not be relevant to mention geniuses, but Ed Witten majored in history, before going to grad school first in economics then applied mathematics and then taking a phd in physics. of course one wants to know how common it is at your school, and in your own case. but it has happened.
 
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