Need to decide whether to study Physics or Engineering

In summary: Consequently, if you are in Italy and are considering a university in the US, I would recommend seeking out advice from an Italian university student who is already studying in the US. In summary, If you are already a student at a university in Italy and are undecided on a major, I advise you to explore all of your undergraduate degree options, and then select the one that you are the most interested in. If you are still in high school and are applying to university, then I advise you to research which university would be a best fit for your interests and qualifications, and then apply.
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I'm a 17 years old student and I can't choose between studying Physics or Engineering at university, any advice?
 
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What do you envision for yourself in terms of a career? Do you like school and studying? Do you want to go to graduate school? How strong are you academically?
 
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A lot of students who enjoy physics struggle with this choice. Engineering is a profession. Engineering programs are designed with the intent of preparing you for a job in that industry. Physics is an academic subject. Pure physics programs are often designed to prepare you for graduate school and advanced research.

But beware of the false dichotomy. It's often not a choice between one or the other, but a decision in regards to where you fall on the spectrum. And it's not necessarily a choice that you have to make all at once either.

There are, for example, hybrid programs such as engineering physics, that combine an engineering degree with advanced physics options. Often, this is a way to keep the door open to physics graduate school, while earning a professional degree. Physics also has professional branches as well, like medical physics and geophysics. And I think over the last decade or so, a lot of schools have made strong efforts at preparing physics students to leave academia as well, with marketable skills in areas like programming, data science, engineering, etc. So it's not like choosing physics relegates your only professional option to academia.

And often the first year or so of these different programs can have quite similar coursework, so if you choose one direction and find that it's not quite your thing, you often have the flexibility to explore another option.

A lot can depend on the details of the program and courses that you choose though. So when selecting a school and a program, take a deep dive into the specifics of the curriculum. Talk to an academic advisor. Think about your long-term goals. And have a back-up plan if the first one doesn't work out.
 
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gwnorth said:
What do you envision for yourself in terms of a career? Do you like school and studying? Do you want to go to graduate school? How strong are you academically?
I like to study and I have good marks at school. In terms of career I feel like engineering is more "safe" in the sense that I guess it's very likeable you find a job (maybe even in great companies). However, I'm fascinated by research and finding something new in Physics.
 
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It's going to depend on the specific field of Engineering you would be contemplating pursuing, but it could be possible to to set yourself up to be competitive for the same jobs that typically hire Engineering graduates with a Physics degree by being very selective with your choice of elective courses. The only caveat being that the career you envision doesn't require an ABET accredited Engineering degree or requirement for you to become licensed as a professional Engineer. Have a look at some job postings on the common job listings websites like Indeed and see what requirements they list. Often times they are very broad asking from degrees in Engineering, Math, Physics or other quantitative fields. It's not always necessary to have an actual degree in an Engineering field.
 
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filo said:
I'm a 17 years old student and I can't choose between studying Physics or Engineering at university, any advice?
* Please clarify: Are you now in high school and are applying to a university? Or are you already a student at a university and deciding on a major?

* Your profile lists your country as Italy. Please confirm that you are applying to, or are already enrolled in, a university in Italy. We previously had a couple of threads discussing options for a student in Italy. I believe they were highly convoluted because it was not apparent at first that he was in Italy, and much of the advice was US-centric and didn't apply to Italy.
 
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