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Physics vs. Chemical engineering, difficulty

  1. Jan 6, 2013 #1
    I've heard that enginering (generally) is less difficult than physics but I've also heard that ChemE is the most difficult engineering degree to get. So which is more difficult to get: a B.S. in Physics of a B.S. in ChemE? If ChemE is eaiser, exactly how much easier is it: considerably or only a little? The reason I ask is because I'm a beginning physics major and I'll probably switch over to engineering if I have too much difficulty with advanced-level physics classes. Right now I need to know which minor to choose. If ChemE is a viable "plan B" for me, then I'm going to minor in chemistry so I have more classes that will transfer over to my new major.

    Also, if ChemE is not a viable plan B, can anyone suggest some other field of engineering that is, and a minor that will help me out with transferring over to it?

    TIA for any help anyone can give.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2013 #2
    I would think its as hard or even harder than physics. Physics majors have an arrogance that their degree is super hard and others cant do it but I think that is unfounded. Physics is no harder or more special than EE or ChemE. In fact, I would claim that for a BS physics is easier than either of those.
  4. Jan 6, 2013 #3
    Harder in what sense? Engineering degrees usually have more grunt work, because that is necessary for the trade. But physics can just get all whacky theoretical and starts to lose all base with what people see as reality (even if it is reality), and the abstractness is the difficult part. Same thing for math.
  5. Jan 6, 2013 #4

    There are threads like this all the time asking which is harder than the other. What do you mean by "hard"? Different schools have different programs(obviously) that vary in course requirements, and this has nothing to do with an individuals ability. Some schools have strong engineering programs, and some don't.

    Do you really want to major in something based on supposed difficulty? Do you like physics? Do you like chemical engineering? What are you trying to do? These are things that are more important to think about, because once you get into the "meat" of any engineering or physics program, it's going to come down to your interest and career options, not the public perception.
  6. Jan 6, 2013 #5
    Why does it matter which is harder? If you're planning to get a 4-year technical degree and it's not something you want to spend you're life doing, you're GONNA HAVE A BAD TIME :devil:.

    Visceral is spot on. It completely depends on the school in question.
  7. Jan 6, 2013 #6


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    This is an interesting question. I think its difficult to say unless someone has completed both a chem eng curriculum and a physics curriculum. Of course physics students will say physicsis harder and engineers will say engineering is. I think they are both wrong.

    In my opinion, they are different degrees with different purposes.

    Physics is an educational degree that is designed to:
    Give someone a well rounded background the physical sciences.
    Teach one to apply quantitative reasoning to physical problems.
    Teach one the basic history of science.
    Prepare a student for further education in physics or a closely relatd field.

    Chemical Engineering is a vocational degree designed to:
    Teach one enough science to do chemical engineering
    Teach one to apply quantitative reasoning to problems in chemical engineering
    Prepare one to be a chemical engineer
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