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Starting a degree all over again

  1. Jul 7, 2012 #1
    Hello, I am new to this forum. My question regards pursuing a second undergraduate degree.

    As a brief introduction, I am due to graduate with an undergraduate degree in physics. Unfortunately though, due to various circumstances, the classification is insufficient for the entry requirements of the graduate theoretical physics programs that I am interested in. Hence, I am seriously considering a second undergraduate degree in mathematics, since it is of greater relevance to modern theoretical physics, it seems, than an undergraduate physics degree. However, owing to the tuition fee increase, neither I nor my immediate family can afford the money necessary for a second undergraduate degree in the country I reside in (UK).

    The only option remaining is to look abroad to do an undergraduate degree in mathematics, particularly those institutions in the European Economic Area, where many have tuition fees that are substantially lower than their equivalents in the UK. In addition, many institutions have the benefit of offering their courses taught in English. Could any members of this forum who were/are students that did/are doing what I plan to do or anybody else who know such people offer any advice? I would greatly appreciate this.

    Finally, I ask that replies do not digress toward to the matter of my first undergraduate degree, unless it is relevant to the application procedure for a second undergraduate degree in mathematics. Indeed, for those currently in academia who might reply to this; if the classification of my undergraduate degree in physics will disadvantage me in any way in applying for a graduate theoretical physics program, regardless of the classification of a subsequent undergraduate degree in mathematics, I would appreciate any knowledge or experience on this issue.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2012 #2
    As a sophmore undergraduate myself I will be of no help to you. However, I am curious as to what these "various circumstances" are. Why were you not able to see these coming a long way down the road? Is there anything you can do to change your situation (retake a few classes, letters of recommendation, etc.)?
  4. Jul 7, 2012 #3


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    Hey Aitch bar and welcome to the forums.

    I suggest that you first find out if you can take an appropriate masters degree in mathematics or some graduate diploma that lets you get into a masters program.

    Given that you have done physics, an undergraduate degree in math will be overkill and will probably hurt more than it helps. If you have all the calculus, linear algebra, and other standard requirements, a masters would be something that could be attainable.
  5. Jul 8, 2012 #4
    I agree with chiro, see if you can simply do a masters in mathematics, two bachelors degrees is rather pointless in my opinion...
  6. Jul 8, 2012 #5

    Check these out:
    http://www.math.uni-hamburg.de/master/mphys/ (there are to focus areas: "mathematical" and "physics")


    http://www.uni-leipzig.de/~physik/master-physics-international.html [Broken]

    Tuition is either free or less than ~1000 euros/year. It's quite expensive to live in Munich or Hamburg, but Leipzig is much cheaper. (http://www.studis-online.de/StudInfo/Studienfinanzierung/mietkosten.php)

    Bear in mind that I haven't even started an undergraduate degree but what you said about maths and physics makes no sense at all. It would appear that physics research happens in physics departments and only some kinds of mathematical physics is done in math departments, and even then, their work is more like math than physics. This is just the impression I got when reading posts here, on physicsgre.com and various webpages of math and physics departments.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Jul 8, 2012 #6


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    If by "classification" you mean "grade", I cant see how that could NOT disadvantage you if you want to do graduate level physics, unless there are some mitigating circumstances (e.g. illness interrupting your studies).

    If your plan to do a math degree is an attempt to get around poor physics grades, I suggest you ask the instituations where you plan to apply if that will meet their entry requirements, rather than taking advice from this forum. There's no sense spending a few years (and money) chasing a dream that isn't going to work out.
  8. Jul 11, 2012 #7
    Thank you, I shall contact those institutions. In response to your final comment; due to the lack of direct empirical verification, the distinction between modern theoretical physics and mathematics is becoming rather blurred. I cite string theory as a case study, although one of the key results is based on an incorrect application of the Riemann zeta function.
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