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Physics Major or Math Major

  1. May 26, 2015 #1

    I'm currently in college studying to be a physics major, I just completed my first year and am taking classes in the summer. However, I'm not sure if I want to major in math or physics since I love both of the subjects. Leaving high school, physics seemed like the logical choice, I was always good math, but I could not imagine actually majoring in it. However, after taking classes for my first year at college, I find myself enjoying my math classes much more than my physics classes. It could be that I'm being allowed to take higher level math classes than physics classes, for example I am currently much more excited to be taking Fourier Series and Group Theory next semester than Electricity/Magnetism and Electronics. Right now, I'm enjoying taking classes in both majors, but I know realistically I need to pick one, especially at my college where it is essential that you choose your major by your third semester.

    What has sparked my recent concern is that from the research I've done, it appears to be a much better job market for math majors than for physics majors. As much as I would love to learn math and physics forever, I need to look future jobs and the physics job market scares me. Yet, I still do not know what I would even do with a math degree, where I have more of an idea of a physicist's job. I'm seriously considering changing majors and am looking for any advice or thoughts about whether I should stick with my current major or move onto a math major.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2015 #2


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    I was stuck in this same situation. I started school as a physics major, and found that I absolutely love math purely for its own merits. I considered switching to a math major, but ultimately decided to just double major in physics and math. A lot of it is going to depend on your own interests, which may take time to figure out. My advice would be to stick with your current major for now. Taking at least introductory physics is very beneficial for a math major anyway in my opinion. And more math is never a bad thing for a physics major. Take some time to discover your interests. I'd strongly recommend considering double majoring. With some proper course planning, it's not hard to do. The required math courses and other associated courses within a typical physics major can all be applied to a math major as well.
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
  4. May 26, 2015 #3
    I've been in that position. I started out as a mathematics major and a physics major, then I switched to physics believing that it was more challenging. It is, but that is just my opinion. The reason I stayed in physics is because the physics department at my school has more opportunities. Our physics department is also smaller, so each physics student is well recognized and assisted by the teachers.

    I believe both a really great majors. You should maybe think about what career you want to go into, and see which major is more suitable. Try to figure out which would make you happier. Physics has a LOT of mathematics in it. You could also go into theoretical physics :/.

    It is really up to you. Perhaps, you can consider double majoring if you are up to it, have the funds, or are not worried about staying in school a bit longer.
  5. May 27, 2015 #4
    Why choose when you can do both? Both fields are very beneficial for eachother. Physicists of course need a lot of mathematics. But the converse is also true! You understand mathematics much better if you know the associated physics. So try not to focus on only one of these aspects, but try to incorporate both to some extent.
  6. May 27, 2015 #5


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    I concur with the above responses. Why not both? :biggrin:

    Seriously, there is probably no better choice of double major for a physics or math student. The two subjects will complement each other nicely, and you'll gain a better understanding of each one by studying the other. And your grad school research options, should you go that route, will be doubled.
  7. May 27, 2015 #6
    The job prospects for someone with a bachelors are generally lousy from what I understand, but with a graduate degree I find the notion that math majors have better prospects to be pretty suspicious. The evidence seems to indicate they perform approximately as well.

    Do you want a research career? Doing what? A math double major seems only relevant to a very tiny sliver of physics. Computer science/applied mathematics ala numerical methods would cover a much broader base, and various engineering disciplines are more relevant to experimentalists.
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