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Theoretical or Experimental Undergrad

  1. Dec 3, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I have a couple of hopefully easy questions about undergraduate degrees. I am a 3.74 GPA student at my university and am currently in my 3rd year of college, on a 5 year plan. I am a double major in both Physics and Applied Mathematics. The following are my questions.

    1) Double Majoring

    I have had some pressure in the past year from friends, family, professors and a patent lawyer to do this double major. Is it worth it? I honestly spend a massive amount of time studying and burn out is a concern and I was hoping to hear how helpful it actually pans out. Can I do better with it? Without it? How so?

    I've read some of the responses in the past to this but none of the ones in the archive were really that satisfactory.

    It might help if I give some light on to what I am hoping to do.

    Rockets somehow, patent law, college level teaching.

    (ideas that I have, I really don't know too much about what I can do as a career with what I am learning)

    2) Theoretical or Experimental Undergrad

    I read a post recently where someone said "...Theoretical Physics (ugh)..." to quote them. Why is this such a bad point? I could use some clarification as I am starting my specification of my degree in my next quarter. Mostly I could just use some information on it against experimental.

    I appreciate all of your opinions. Much thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2007 #2
    About Double Majoring
    It is generally a good thing iff you can handle it and it doesn't adversely affect your GPA
    Another thing to think about is what the two majors are, as this will have a big impact on what effect the double major has on anyone who sees it. For example (no offense) your double major in Physics and applied maths is great, but there is probably a large over lap between classes you need for the physics major and classes you need for the maths major.
    It may look better than a regular physics degree if you keep your grades up, but something people like to see is majors in different subjects. Like doubles in Physics and Chem, Physics and English, Physics and Dance or Theatre or Choir, that is what will really stand out on an application.

    About Theo v. Experimental in undergrad
    I have had this discussion recently with one or two people. I believe the general consensus was that at the undergrad level there isn't too much of a difference between experimental and theoretical tracks. (Here I am open to new information as I don't know every school's curriculum)
    Generally the experimental track has more required labs and the theo track has more required math classes. For example you may need a full year of modern physics lab for a general physics degree but only 1 semester for a theo phys/ applied maths degree
    Maybe the general physics degree requires optic and optics lab, solid state physics, or electronic plus lab, where as the theo phys degree would have a couple classes from advanced classical mechanics, or advanced EM, or advanced QM
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