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Physics/EE Double Major

  1. Apr 18, 2012 #1
    I know this is talked about quite frequently on here and other forums but I wanted to ask a few specifics. First of all, I am a freshman in biological engineering, but I am finding that I'm more interested in physics and generally like the flexibility of the degree, though I'm not positive I don't want to do engineering. Also let me add that I am looking towards graduate school after I graduate, but who knows if I will change my mind between now and then. I have been debating switching my major for a while now and today I found out that I would be able to do a double major in EE and Physics in 3 more years (4 total) if I start next semester.

    My main goal is to keep my options open at this point. I figure that I can start both degrees and drop one if I eventually decide I'm more interested in the other. I am specifically becoming more interested in biophysics so I am wondering how a double major in physics/EE might translate into biophysics for graduate school. Will engineering graduate programs choose an EE/Physics major over a purely physics major in most cases? How about Physics graduate programs?

    Again, mainly I want to have the option to go physics or engineering in grad school or even industry if I decide. I hear that physics majors can get into most engineering grad programs so is the double major really even worth it? Also, how about math/physics?

    Thanks for the replies :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 19, 2012 #2
    I'm currently double majoring in those. There's been a few threads recently where people chimed in about this, I'd do a quick search for double major/etc.

    One thing to take into account is it is going to take longer than you think, another is that it is going to cost a lot more so you have to make sure you're going to be able to afford it. I say it will take longer than you think for 2 reasons (the first of which may not apply, I'm assuming you haven't considered it but if you have neglect it):

    (1) If you aren't taking into account research, you will definitely want to do that - especially since you say you want to go to grad school. You may not be able to do the 5/6 classes a semester you are planning, do research, and do well in both (depending on how involved it is).

    (2) You aren't taking into account scheduling conflicts between majors. This has seriously set me back. It happens all the time - they don't coordinate them between departments like that (and sometimes I wonder if they coordinate them even within their own program).

    Anyways, if you aren't sure what you like yet it definitely can't hurt to take courses from each in the meantime until you figure out what you want to do. Physics and math would likely be a shorter trip, they usually have more electives then engineers that you could use physics classes from your major for.

    As I understand it, if you did just physics (or physics and math) this definitely doesn't guarantee you'll have luck getting into an engineering program - and if you do, you'll have to take a few undergrad classes anyways I'm sure. In general, I don't really think they care too much if you double major at all when reviewing your applications for grad school. If you were going directly into industry after ugrad it would probably be more helpful than it would going the grad school route.

    Good luck figuring it out. If you do decide to double major make sure you are sure you do it because you want to. There aren't a ton of benefits and it is a much bigger commitment then you think it is.
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