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Should I do a Math/CS combined major?

  1. Jun 15, 2012 #1
    I'm an applied math major at UIUC, but I really can't see myself in academia, and insurance research doesn't seem too interesting so I don't really know if the majors right for me. Would the combined math/CS major offered by UIUC be better for my employment opportunities? Or is it one of those situations where compromise is a bad thing? Like where I lose programming jobs to CS majors?

    I was thinking of just minority in CS, but I've read that minors are relatively useless.

    For what it's worth, I can see myself doing analyst or statistician, number crunching type work. I also like programming and I'm very interested in AI. I also have a passion for astrophysics.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2012 #2


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    Astrophysics and CS is actually a good combination to have and I think those two things will serve you well especially for astrophysics, signal processing, and other necessary activities (like simulations coding and generation).

    I can't see why you couldn't find a job where your focus is not on statistics: even if you have to use some 'statistics' or 'statistics concepts', you should be able to find work where your primary goal is far removed from this.

    Just one though about AI and machine learning/data mining: any form of analysis under uncertainty is basically probability and statistics and in the context of learning and otherwise under uncertainty, it makes sense to use the frameworks of probability and statistics as one of the frameworks for learning and extended these areas.

    One piece of advice though if you want to coding/software dev/etc: get a small portfolio under your belt before you apply for jobs: there are so many benefits for this both for your development and for getting work. Your portfolio should be geared towards the kind of stuff you wish to do, but anything that you do whether it's for uni projects/self-study or self-interest/outside of uni group projects like with friends/open-source/etc is definitely a huge plus and you will find that if you get an interview, someone will ask you about at least one of these.

    Good luck!
  4. Jun 15, 2012 #3
    I'm at UIUC as well. I'm doing Mathematics (with the applied concentration) and Statistics as my two majors, though I'm in the honors math program and just finished the honors real analysis sequence. I'm about to graduate, but if I could start over, I would change my Stats major to the Stats/CS major. Stats/CS is a single major and I would highly recommend doing a Math and Stats/CS major if you had the time.
  5. Jun 16, 2012 #4
    Thanks for the words of advice. I think I'll definitely switch to the Math/CS major now. I was looking at the Berkeley Career surveys, and it was a bit disheartening to see math majors not getting too many jobs, especially compared to CS majors. A graduate even put down barista as an occupation. Though I'm sure they were kidding. Or something.

    Do you think it would be worth the effort to try and transfer into the engineering college, and just take strictly CS? I'm almost a junior credit wise, so I'm not sure if I should.
  6. Jun 16, 2012 #5
    Here are the courses I'm required to take for each. I think the CS/Math major covers the CS curriculum pretty succinctly, though I might throw in a few more CS courses if I have the chance.

    http://provost.illinois.edu/ProgramsOfStudy/2011/fall/programs/undergrad/las/math.html [Broken]

    http://provost.illinois.edu/ProgramsOfStudy/2011/fall/programs/undergrad/las/math_computer_sci.html [Broken]

    http://provost.illinois.edu/ProgramsOfStudy/2011/fall/programs/undergrad/engin/comp_sci.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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