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Second B.S. in Math?

  1. Jul 25, 2009 #1
    I recently graduated with my bachelors in physics and had intended to finish a bachelors in math at the same time. I ran out of time to get both done so I finished up my physics degree. If I return for one more semester I can complete the last 14 credits I need to get my math degree. However, doing so will cost me quite a bit of money since I have passed my initial 4 years and can no longer get school based scholarships or a lot of the grants I used to get. I would be willing to take out the loans necessary to go back if I thought it was worth it but I have spoken with some people at the Physics GRE Forum and they claim that it won't do much in the way of helping me get into grad school and that I should just head to grad school now with the degree I've got. Does this seem like sound reasoning or would you recommend I get my second degree? What are the possible positive or negatives of doing this? Thanks for any help you can give.
     
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  3. Jul 25, 2009 #2

    cristo

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    If you only need 14 credits (which I'm going to guess is a small number of classes) I don't see why it will make a difference if you get a maths degree or not. After all, won't you have to take the (relevant) classes in graduate school anyway?
     
  4. Jul 25, 2009 #3
    I imagine that when I apply I either can or can't say that I have a math degree and I am curious as to whether an admissions council is going to look at that and say, "hey, he's got some math under his belt" or whether their response will be, "meh, big deal." Is it something that will really set me apart from the rest of the pack or is it not worth the additional $12,000 that I will likely add in loans to finish the semester. It would seem to me that many of the classes I have taken in math that were not required under a typical physics major, e.g. Discrete Math, Diff EQ 2, Linear Alg 2, Abstract Algebra, Advanced Calc, Differential Geometry etc, would be very beneficial to a physics grad student. My primary reason for asking is that many people I have asked seem to disagree with this reasoning.
     
  5. Jul 25, 2009 #4
    I have bachelors degrees in physics and math, and I'm in physics grad school. I've obviously never been to an admissions committee meeting, so I can't comment on what committee members would say about applicants with a math degree. But I can say, based on my experiences, that my math degree didn't seem to have any significant impact on the schools I got into, nor has it helped me as a grad student (except that it got me out of taking the math methods class). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that physics majors shouldn't major in math too. I very much enjoyed my math classes. But it doesn't really help you from a practical standpoint, and I certainly wouldn't pay $12,000 for the piece of paper.
     
  6. Jul 25, 2009 #5

    thrill3rnit3

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    If you're just doing it for the paper, then of course it would be a total waste of time AND money.

    If you really want to learn the material...then there's this thing called self-studying.
     
  7. Jul 26, 2009 #6
    My primary purpose in all this was because I thought it would come in handy in grad school. Unfortunately, it seems like most people agree that any math I would get as an undergrad math major will just be covered in grad school again.
     
  8. Jul 26, 2009 #7
    I've been on admissions councils. ""meh, big deal." would be one of the kinder comments...

    Stop messing around and go to graduate school!
     
  9. Jul 27, 2009 #8

    Landau

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    I don't know how it all works at your university (or in your country even), but isn't it possible to go to grad school and at the same time do those math classes? 14 credits seems like not too many classes... Or do you still have to pay those 12,000 on top of the grad school costs? Of course, this way you won't get advantage of your math degree for getting into grad school, so it would be just for the sake of getting the diploma (and the knowledge that comes with the math courses).
     
  10. Jul 27, 2009 #9
    At most universities, as is the case with mine, you can't simply transfer all credits you have earned at one university and then finish a few more classes at another and earn a degree. The coursework needs to be completed primarily at one institution as a sort of quality assurance measure. I could certainly take the courses immediately before or simultaneously with graduate course work and this may be the route I will take if the classes I wanted to take prove to be necessary. This does mean, however, that I wouldn't be able to use my additional degree in any way when applying to a graduate program. With this being the case and also with the realization that my shiny new math degree isn't worth the paper its printed on in the eyes of a physics admissions committee, I am leaning towards simply getting started on a graduate program.
     
  11. Jul 28, 2009 #10

    Landau

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    Ah, I didn't realize your grad school university will be a different one.
    That is probably the wisest decision. Good luck!
     
  12. Jul 28, 2009 #11
    What if your degree is in math but you want to go to physics grad school? Should you get a second bachelor's in physics or a masters in physics and then apply to grad school?
     
  13. Jul 28, 2009 #12

    Landau

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    I think it will be very hard to get into physics grad school with only a bachelor's in math. A necessary condition to get in is knowledge of the basis areas: mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, special relativity. So you probably need to get a bachelor's in physics, unless you already did a lot of physics courses.
     
  14. Jul 30, 2009 #13
    I've been on admissions committees too, and while we'd note a strong minor or second major, it had minimum effect on the decision process. Ity could raise a reader score (out of 10) by about half a point, but reader scores are only part of the equation. I'd agree that it wouldn't be worth 12 grand and the extra time, especially if you don't have more research time built into that extra time.
     
  15. Jul 30, 2009 #14
    So what about someone who pursued a maths/physics double major at the same time, and graduated on schedule? Is that given anymore weight than someone who just took a physics major?

    Also, take into consideration that so far I'm averaging a 3.15 in my math courses. There are some really unchill workaholic smart kids in that department.
     
  16. Jul 30, 2009 #15

    thrill3rnit3

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    edit: nvm
     
  17. Jul 31, 2009 #16
    I think getting another BSc is more likely to hinder your progress. Staff (with their single BScs!) are likely to think you are being too pushy and trying to show off. Professors like to see things done a certain way, and taking an extra BSc is "just not the done thing, old chap". Nice professors are likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, and not mark you up or down. Nasty professors are likely to use it as ammunition to shoot you down...
     
  18. Aug 2, 2009 #17
    I just had to add my two cents here since I did something similar..that is going back after finishing one degree to finish up a second. Of course, I had to pay out of pocket since financial aid and all that doesn't cover you after you have already graduated once. Anyways, getting a second degree could never hurt you. What do I mean by this? Well physics girl said it raises your grad committee equation points by some small amount but what I'm not surprised no one is saying is that in a non-academic setting I would say that it makes you a more marketable asset which is something that in the long run you might not be able to quantify with an arbitrary point system. Is it worth 12k? I don't know about your financial situation but depending on the circumstances would think it to be not a bad thing to do (which obviously contradicts all the opinions before mine).
     
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