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Physics Undergraduate Question

  1. Apr 4, 2010 #1

    I am attending the University of Pennsylvania next year as a freshman, majoring in physics. UPenn has a program where physics undergrads can earn both their BS and MS within 4 years. I plan to earn my doctorate in physics one day, specializing in theoretical particle physics, and want to do so in the most time efficient manor possible.

    How difficult would it be to earn at least my undergraduate degree in physics within three years? Also, would anyone recommend that I get a minor in math during my undergraduate years, since I am going onto particle theory?

    Thank you and happy Aether Sunday! (that's what else I celebrate on Easter Sunday)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2010 #2
    Unless you have pressing financial reasons to do this, I don't think it's such a good idea. Learning and research at the levels you are at are fundamentally inefficient, and I think trying to be efficient, you are going to leave out a lot.

    For example, if you try to get out in three years, you are going to focus less on humanities and writing, which are going to be as important for your education as anything you learn in physics. Also the shorter the timeline, the less room there is to make mistakes, and you don't make mistakes, you aren't going to learn anything really important.
  4. Apr 4, 2010 #3


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    I have to agree with Twofish-quant here. There are a lot of downsides to rushing through your education, and there really aren't any big payoffs for finishing early. You need that time to explore and learn, which will give you the background to make informed choices when you it comes time to go on to graduate school - if that is in fact what you would prefer to do.
  5. Apr 4, 2010 #4
    Thank you for the advice. Undoubtedly there are many downsides to graduating in three years, which I have considered. But wouldn't finishing one's undergrad in three years be more impressive on a graduate school application?
  6. Apr 4, 2010 #5
    Having another year of classes and experience under your belt is generally more impressive. For the most part no one cares how long it takes you to finish your degree. Why not use the extra year to double major in math or just take some extra courses and do research?
  7. Apr 4, 2010 #6
    No. My sister finished early, and the grad schools don't want due to lack of experience.
    Don't rush because you wanna be smart/ahead. Understanding and having time to process all that you learn is more important than just "learning" a lot.
    Chill out and enjoy the ride. :wink:
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