Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Should I Double Major in CS and Applied Math?

  1. Jul 19, 2011 #1

    Just a bit of background first: I'm gonna be a sophomore this upcoming school year and my current major is Computer Science. I intend to apply to graduate school for a PhD in CS. However, I've become really interested in getting a double major in Applied and Computational Math as well.

    The thing is, if I do, I will definitely need to take a fifth year as there will be 60 courses that I have to take combined, and I've only done 12 of them so far. Squeezing in those 48 courses PLUS research is just not feasible for me.

    If I still want to get a PhD in CS, will Math help me, in terms of getting into a top grad school (I also like it, not just for admissions, but just wondering anyway), and be worth taking an extra year?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 19, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    What specific area do you want to go into?

    Most of the math that relates to computer science should be taught in those respective courses. The same sort of thing happens in engineering.

    Personally (and this is based on reading other posts), you will learn what you need to for your PhD by taking graduate courses or if you pass qualifiers, just learn it on the fly.

    What kind of area do you want to get into by the way?
  4. Jul 20, 2011 #3
    Thanks for the reply!

    As of current, I am more interested in the applied side of CS rather than the theoretical side. However, I haven't really picked a certain area that I'd like to focus on but I'm leaning towards AI right now. And since I'd rather not double major in anything like CogSci, I've heard that Applied Math plays an important role in AI due to algorithms, stats, and the like.

    Really, it comes down to whether getting a double major (and taking an extra year) will hinder me in any sort of way in terms of getting into a good grad school that will give me good opportunities for R&D afterwards.

    Oh! And as a general question, do UC schools have some sort of unit cap where you can't take more than X units over the course of your college career?
  5. Jul 20, 2011 #4
    What are UC schools? I'll assume you mean undergraduate schools. I don't know about other states, but the UNC system has a 50% surcharge after 8 regular semesters.
  6. Jul 20, 2011 #5
    University of California.
  7. Jul 20, 2011 #6
    Yes it can hinder you, because you may compromise on time that could better be spent researching and developing depth in your field.

    No, that isn't always the case, depending on if your Applied Math coursework actually helps you develop your research focus.

    Don't just get a degree because Applied Math is related. If related, then take the relevant course or at least learn the material by reading a book if you don't care to do it in the depth or format of the specific course.

    I would, however, recommend taking some courses related to the demands of AI - a math degree might not be ideal though. You might be better served studying probability, statistics, discrete math in general, and have a foundation in basic things like linear algebra and very basic analysis.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook