• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products via PF Here!

Programs Should I double major in math and physics?

245
23
So, I had a talk with a friend of mine who is double majoring in Physics and Math. He will complete both of his degrees, along with a Philosophy minor, next semester (in a total of 7 semesters), and will take graduate level courses in his final semester (he has a 4.0 GPA and is doing research). He said that if you are coming from a university like UT Arlington where the academics are much easier compared to the likes of the top universities, and if you are planning to get into a top institution yourself, a Physics major will not be sufficient to appeal to them if you are coming from a low ranked university, you will need to do a double major in Math and Physics.

Now, I am a 2nd semester freshman in Physics, I have a 4.0 GPA and will likely continue to have it after the end of this semester. I am currently involved in research and would hopefully have about 2 publications by the end of this year and will also be a junior at the end of 3 semesters (since I have CLEPed out of Cal I and will do the same for General Chemistry I and General Chemistry II). I really have loved all the Math that I have seen so far (till Calculus II and some differential equations and linear algebra that I studied on my own) and would not rule out doing a double major. But will a double major really increase my chances of getting into a top school for my program (provided, of course, that I maintain a very high GPA-- I am aiming for a 4.0)?
 

Vanadium 50

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
22,844
5,092
Will you please stop badmouthing Arlington? They gave you a 100% scholarship and the least you could do is show a little flipping gratitude. Or at least pretend - remember, you're counting on letters of recommendation from these professors. Do you really want them to say "We're glad he's gone."?
 

Choppy

Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,477
1,553
I don't think a double major is nearly as impressive as some people make it out to be - particularly in cases where students seem to be getting credit for courses they didn't even take. In terms of competition for graduate admissions, all those people with only one major will likely have other aspects to their applications that balance things out. For example, in most cases a double major means that the student has concentrated on only the core courses needed to complete each of the given major, while a single major will have had more opportunities for a diverse education within that major having taken more senior-level courses that introduce the various sub-fields, or has picked up skills from elective courses that the double major couldn't fit in.

Good reasons to double major include a genuine desire to learn about more than one subject, or wanting to keep the option open for attending graduate school in either discipline. Doing it to impress people has a lot of potential to backfire.
 
245
23
I don't think a double major is nearly as impressive as some people make it out to be - particularly in cases where students seem to be getting credit for courses they didn't even take. In terms of competition for graduate admissions, all those people with only one major will likely have other aspects to their applications that balance things out. For example, in most cases a double major means that the student has concentrated on only the core courses needed to complete each of the given major, while a single major will have had more opportunities for a diverse education within that major having taken more senior-level courses that introduce the various sub-fields, or has picked up skills from elective courses that the double major couldn't fit in.

Good reasons to double major include a genuine desire to learn about more than one subject, or wanting to keep the option open for attending graduate school in either discipline. Doing it to impress people has a lot of potential to backfire.
Thanks for your response. I do agree with what you said, however, I am not considering a double major just to impress grad schools. I also do not wanna go to grad school in Math. A major reason of double majoring was also because I really have loved all the math that I have seen so far and people often tell me how taking higher level Math courses will change the way (for the better) I look at Physics.

Would it be a good idea to just take the Math courses that I am interested in without any intention of getting a double major?
 

Choppy

Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,477
1,553
Would it be a good idea to just take the Math courses that I am interested in without any intention of getting a double major?
I would certainly encourage you to take all the math courses that you want to take. You might want to consider: if you were to take all the math courses that you really want to take and their prerequisites - how close would that put you to a double major? If it's just a case of picking up an extra course or two, I might lean towards the double major. If you really just want to pick up an extra course in topology or something - then just do that.
 

Dr. Courtney

Education Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2018 Award
2,886
1,789
I don't recommend double majors. Get involved in research. Mind the GPA in your Physics major, rock the PGRE, and impress your research supervisor(s) enough to get included as a co-author on a couple papers and get good recommendation letters.

Even if your academic program is regarded as weak (dunno if it is or not), adding more credits in weak courses will not be impressive. More weak stuff is still just weak stuff.
 

Zap

154
46
How the heck can you have two publications by the end of the year?

I don't have a single publication after working three and a half years in a lab.

Double major in physics and computer science.

What are you thinking?

You'll get a good job making video games while you're snobby friend is in grad school working his butt off.

You loved math until calculus II? I didn't love math until calculus II. Are you crazy?

Who the heck is this kid?
 
Last edited:

Want to reply to this thread?

"Should I double major in math and physics?" You must log in or register to reply here.

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving
Top