Should I double major in CS and Physics?

In summary, the conversation discusses a student's dilemma between pursuing a Physics PhD or continuing with a Computer Science career. The student initially declared Physics as their major but switched to CS due to doubts about their future in physics. However, the student's physics advisor has encouraged them to reconsider a Physics PhD, citing the potential job opportunities in technology and finance. The student is considering adding Physics back as a major but is hesitant due to the rigorous requirements and potential sacrifices in other areas of study. The conversation ends with a question about what factors the student should consider before committing to a double major.
  • #1
fissifizz
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Hello physics forums! I'm currently a 3rd year student in college studying Computer Science. I first declared Physics as my major and stuck with the course sequence until I finished the Quantum Mechanics series (so I effectively have a minor), but after that I had some doubts about my future in physics and whether I was cut out to be a researcher (although I enjoyed the undergrad research I have done).

I had some programming background, so I switched my major to CS, and as far as CS job prospects go, I have found some success with internships. But for some reason, the physics bug keeps biting me. After talking to my physics advisor, he encouraged me to reconsider a Physics PhD because it's hard to determine whether that path will suit me without having tried it in the first place. He told me that many of our school's Physics PhD students don't stay in physics, and go on to pursue jobs in technology and finance. My CS background will probably give me an edge there. So I'm thinking that if I enjoy a PhD and leave confident in my abilities to be a physicist, I could continue with a physics career path, but otherwise I could transition back to CS, hopefully into PhD level work like ML Research Scientist and/or Data Science positions.

But of course, to get admitted into a Physics PhD, I would definitely need to add the major back. I am not entirely opposed to this, but I want to be sure this is what I want to do before committing to a very grueling 3rd and 4th years of college, as CS requirements are already no joke. Additionally, my school requires double majors to write a research thesis pairing the two fields, so that would also be a large undertaking (but also has the potential to be lots of fun since there are really cool computational physics problems out there!).

What would you advise me to really think about before committing to such an undertaking?
 
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  • #2
Sounds pretty reasonable to me. One thing to consider before embarking on the double major is what options you're giving up. Are there courses you were really looking forward to outside of your major that you won't be able to fit in when your electives are filled with core courses from the other major?
 
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  • #3
Choppy said:
Are there courses you were really looking forward to outside of your major that you won't be able to fit in when your electives are filled with core courses from the other major?
That's a very good question and I hope the OP considers it carefully.
 
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  • #4
Choppy said:
Sounds pretty reasonable to me. One thing to consider before embarking on the double major is what options you're giving up. Are there courses you were really looking forward to outside of your major that you won't be able to fit in when your electives are filled with core courses from the other major?

Definitely a great question. The answer is yes. With what little room I had after switching into CS late, I had a little bit of room for cool electives in the social sciences that I'd definitely have to sacrifice for physics. Luckily, the academic opportunities I'm giving up are things I tell myself I can read up on in my own time, whereas for physics I really am going to need that academic record.
 
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Related to Should I double major in CS and Physics?

1. Should I double major in CS and Physics?

It ultimately depends on your interests and career goals. If you have a strong passion for both subjects and want to pursue a career that combines them, then a double major may be a good choice. However, it will require a lot of hard work and dedication.

2. Will a double major in CS and Physics be too challenging?

It can be challenging, as both subjects require a lot of time and effort. However, if you are genuinely interested in both fields, the challenge may be worth it. It's essential to have good time management skills and seek help when needed.

3. What are the benefits of double majoring in CS and Physics?

A double major can provide you with a diverse skill set and open up more career opportunities. It can also help you develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are valuable in many industries.

4. Can I still graduate on time with a double major in CS and Physics?

It may be more challenging to graduate on time with a double major, as you will need to fulfill the requirements for both majors. It's essential to plan your course schedule carefully and possibly take summer classes to stay on track.

5. How can I balance my coursework for a double major in CS and Physics?

Time management is crucial when balancing a double major. It's essential to prioritize your coursework and communicate with your professors if you are struggling. It can also be helpful to find a study group or seek help from tutors or classmates.

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