Physics double major -- a good idea?

In summary: The most important thing is to excel in your physics courses, do research, get excellent letters of recommendation, and do well on the GRE.In summary, it is recommended to focus on excelling in all courses, not just physics, and to prioritize undergraduate research and internships. While a double major may be beneficial for graduate school applications in a different field, it should not come at the cost of a lower GPA. It is important to consult with an academic advisor to determine the best path for your individual academic goals. The most important factors for graduate school admission in physics are GPA, research experience, recommendation letters, and GRE scores.
  • #1
Josh0768
53
6
Hi, I’m an upcoming physics major who currently plans to end up in graduate school. I’ll be attending a school with a good-but-not-great physics program and I was wondering: would double majoring in physics plus something else (like mathematics or computer science) make me a more competitive candidate for graduate school, or would it be a better idea to focus on excelling in physics course and taking on undergrad research?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
I would say the latter, focus on excelling in all your courses, not just physics, and take on undergrad research and perhaps do a summer internship. You may find that, because your physics courses will require a good deal of math courses, with a little bit of planning you will be able to do a double major in physics and math in four years. If you can do some teaching or tutoring on the side, that will also help.
 
  • #3
Top Priorities: GPA, research, recommendation letters, GRE scores

A double major is less impressive. There is no second major worth a lower GPA, not one.
 
  • Like
Likes symbolipoint
  • #4
Dr. Courtney said:
Top Priorities: GPA, research, recommendation letters, GRE scores

A double major is less impressive. There is no second major worth a lower GPA, not one.
I do not know if I agree with the second part or not but I like it anyway. A possible way to try for double major is spend more semesters. Better option, stay with ONE major field but do a few elective courses in what else (like "major") that you're interested.
 
  • #5
Josh0768 said:
Hi, I’m an upcoming physics major who currently plans to end up in graduate school. I’ll be attending a school with a good-but-not-great physics program and I was wondering: would double majoring in physics plus something else (like mathematics or computer science) make me a more competitive candidate for graduate school, or would it be a better idea to focus on excelling in physics course and taking on undergrad research?
If you are firmly committed to going to grad school in physics, I would recommend against the double major: use the time for undergrad research and take non-physics electives. If, however, you are leaving open the options of either not going to grad school at all or pursuing another field in grad school, then going for a double major would be worthwhile ... with the caveat brought up by others that you can handle the load and maintain good grades.
 
  • #6
Josh0768 said:
Hi, I’m an upcoming physics major who currently plans to end up in graduate school. I’ll be attending a school with a good-but-not-great physics program and I was wondering: would double majoring in physics plus something else (like mathematics or computer science) make me a more competitive candidate for graduate school, or would it be a better idea to focus on excelling in physics course and taking on undergrad research?

Look, any kind of additional knowledge is an advantage.

HOWEVER, if it will affect your grades, then it is no longer an advantage, but rather a hindrance. You can double-major, triple-major, do research work, etc. all you like. But if it means that you sacrifice the highest possible grades that you could have achieved, then all of these are no longer a good idea.

We do not know the kind of student you are, how good of a grade that you've been getting, and whether you will have a smooth adjustment into college life. All of these factors are part of what many of us often use to base our recommendations. This is why I always urge students asking such academic questions to consult with your academic advisor. A good advisor will evaluate you as a whole, not just based on 1 or two factors.

So my suggestion is, get proper advising when you are at school, and if they assigned you to some generic advisor, go to your department, and make an appointment to speak to a physics faculty member for academic advising. He or she may not be able to make more solid recommendations until after he/she sees your grades from your first semester, but at least you will know who to talk to after that.

Zz.
 
  • Like
  • Informative
Likes Wrichik Basu, Choppy, Vanadium 50 and 3 others
  • #7
The only thing that I might add to what's already said is that one reason to consider a double major is if you think you may want to go into graduate school in that second discipline or at least want to keep that door open. Also, if graduate school doesn't work out, another major may open up more entry-level job options.

But as everyone else has already stated, that second major alone is not going to have much influence on physics graduate school admissions.
 

Related to Physics double major -- a good idea?

1. Is it difficult to double major in Physics?

Yes, double majoring in Physics can be challenging as it requires a strong understanding of mathematical concepts and rigorous coursework. However, with dedication and hard work, it is definitely achievable.

2. What are the benefits of double majoring in Physics?

Double majoring in Physics can provide a well-rounded education and open up a wide range of career opportunities. It can also demonstrate strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills to potential employers.

3. Can I double major in Physics and another science field?

Yes, it is possible to double major in Physics and another science field such as Chemistry or Astronomy. However, it may require careful planning and may take longer to complete both majors.

4. Will a double major in Physics make me more competitive for graduate school?

Having a double major in Physics can definitely make you stand out as a candidate for graduate school, as it shows a strong commitment to the subject and a diverse skill set. However, it is not the only factor that graduate schools consider.

5. Can I still have time for extracurricular activities while double majoring in Physics?

It may require some time management and prioritization, but it is possible to have a double major in Physics and participate in extracurricular activities. It is important to find a balance between academics and other interests to avoid burnout.

Similar threads

Replies
2
Views
185
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
8
Views
1K
Replies
3
Views
316
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
3
Views
617
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
6
Views
318
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
3
Views
848
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
14
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
1
Views
937
  • STEM Academic Advising
2
Replies
40
Views
3K
Back
Top