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Philosophy Or Physics?

  1. Aug 23, 2012 #1
    I am currently starting my third year as a physics major with minors in mathematics and philosophy. I have recently realized, within the last year, that I do not think I have an interest in doing scientific work. I think I am truly interested in the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of science. I still think however, that perhaps the best way to understand math and physics philosophically is to study math and physics. I am also more interested in pure mathematics than being cooped in a lab tinkering with various instruments. My question is, is it possible to continue through my physics degree and pursue a graduate program in either pure mathematics or philosophy? And if so, are there any program recommendations?

    As a side note, I have been unable to participate in undergraduate laboratory research thus far, despite attempts, and I realize this may be a valuable experience in determining my opinions. Also, though interested and familiar with the subject, I have little programming experience and I recognize this as a weakness in higher level study of math and physics.

    I have been looking for advice. I am also new here. Thank you to anyone who replies.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2012 #2
    If you want to orientate towards more formal sciences, rather than empirical sciences (physics), then you could've considered changing your major to e.g. math and minor in physics and could look to pursue work in mathematical physics (where you can combine math + physics in a math way), computer science or computational science/math/physics for example. However as you're on your third year, it might not be feasible, unless you've done and/or can do the required courses and do a last minute switch. In all of these fields you're encouraged to study computer science and be interested in programming, because programming is a very applicable work/study method or even unavoidable in these fields, even if it's just something like Matlab.

    It's however very feasible to go to a math graduate program from physics undergrad, but you should make sure that you've studied enough math courses for you to have done the required background studies. Same for philosophy. You could even do more individual courses somewhere after your undergrad, if you're missing some courses that they ask for entering the graduate program. You could also check out graduate programs for mathematical physics and computational science/math/physics, if they interest you, because your physics undergrad fits those fields very well.

    I would not major or go for a degree program in philosophy, because philosophy is seen to have very little practical applicability in most jobs (even though it expands one's mind), unless you're sure you want to study it just for the sake of studying without worrying about career prospects. Philosophy is a good minor subject and a good hobby, but I personally wouldn't do a degree in philosophy. Math however is a very good major for the formally minded, because it doesn't really close much, if any future possibilities and you get to study formal science, rather than practical/empirical science.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012
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