Should I major in Physics & Astronomy or Physics & Math?

In summary, it would bewise to get a combined major in Physics and Math if you wish to study theoretical cosmology, but choosing to do a combined major in Physics and Astronomy may be more valuable if you plan to minor in math.
  • #1
gracetomasi
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I'm currently in my first year of a combined major in Physics and Astronomy. I'm hoping to study theoretical cosmology, and get a PhD in physics. I've been told it would be wise to get a double major in Physics and Math if I wish to study theory, but would it also be wise to get a combined major in Physics and Astronomy, and minor in math? I'm unsure of which route to take
 
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  • #2
Country?
 
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Canada
 
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Which university?
 
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at UVIC
 
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I had a look at the 2 programs in question. It seems like the Physics & Math combined major actually requires 3 more courses than the Physics & Astronomy. If you did Astro you could use a few of your regular electives to take some of the additional math courses required in Phys/Math but it would still leave you short about 3 math courses.

Alternatively you could use some of the electives in Phys/Math to take some Astro courses leaving you similarly short about 3 Astro courses than if you had done the Physics/Astronomy double major.

I didn't check the requirements for declaring a minor, but in Phys/Astro you get 6 free electives with 3 being in first year and for Phys/Math you get 5 free electives with 3 also being in 1st year. Does that give enough credits to be able to declare a minor? Either way the question basically becomes which would be more valuable: being able to take 3 additional Math courses or Astronomy courses?
 
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  • #7
I believe if I chose to minor in either math or astronomy, I would most likely meet the requirements for acquiring a minor. I'm leaning towards a minor in math and a major in physics and astronomy, but I am concerned that I may feel behind in the math area once I enter my master's.
 
  • #8
I would be less concerned about the actual certification names and more concerned about which courses best prepare you for your goals.
 
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  • #9
My understanding is that astronomy/astrophysics/cosmology programs for the most part don't actually require a corresponding bachelor's degree for admission and that a "regular" Physics degree is sufficient. In practice however I don't know if admissions committees would give greater preference to a student with astronomy/astrophysics courses on their transcript or not.

I would recommend speaking with an academic advisor at your university as you actually have a number of options for combining Physics, Astronomy, and Math courses including:

Combined Major - Physics & Astronomy
Combined Honours - Physics & Astronomy, Physics & Math
Joint Honours + Major - Physics Honours & Astronomy Major, Physics Honours & Math Major
Minor - Math
 
  • #10
I would look at the options at the course level - which will give you access to the important math, physics, and astronomy courses required for theoretical cosmology.
If it was me, I would take a less demanding major option (like "just" physics) but then pack my electives with all the important math/astronomy/physics courses. This would allow me to take what's important while not taking what isn't as important.

PhD grad admissions committees will look at your courses (and research of course), not just your degrees.
 
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  • #11
Also some courses will be taught well and some...er....less well. If you are tied to a chock full schedule you may be required to take the course taught by a turkey. In the end it is what you learn that matters. ## \ ##
 
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1. Should I major in Physics & Astronomy or Physics & Math?

This is a common question among students who are interested in pursuing a career in physics. Both majors involve the study of the fundamental laws and principles of the universe, but there are some key differences between the two.

2. What is the difference between Physics & Astronomy and Physics & Math?

Physics & Astronomy focuses on the study of celestial objects and phenomena, while Physics & Math focuses on the mathematical and theoretical aspects of physics. Physics & Astronomy majors often take courses in astrophysics, cosmology, and observational astronomy, while Physics & Math majors take courses in advanced mathematics, theoretical physics, and quantum mechanics.

3. Which major is more challenging?

Both majors require a strong foundation in mathematics and critical thinking skills. However, Physics & Math may be more challenging for students who struggle with advanced math concepts, while Physics & Astronomy may be more challenging for students who struggle with observational and experimental techniques.

4. What career opportunities are available for each major?

Both majors can lead to a variety of career opportunities in fields such as research, engineering, and education. Physics & Astronomy majors may find more opportunities in the space and aerospace industries, while Physics & Math majors may find more opportunities in fields such as data analysis and computer science.

5. Can I double major in Physics & Astronomy and Physics & Math?

Yes, it is possible to double major in both Physics & Astronomy and Physics & Math. However, it may require careful planning and time management, as both majors have a rigorous course load. It is important to consult with an academic advisor to create a feasible plan for completing both majors.

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