Triple major worth it?

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  • Thread starter Cmertin
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  • #1
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I am currently at Florida State University (FSU) majoring in Math and Physics. I plan to later go onto grad school either at FSU or Michigan State in nuclear physics since those are some of the top programs in the United States. I have a great love for physics, but I have recently sparked an interest in programming, unix based systems, networking, etc. The question is, would it be worth it to dual major in Math, Physics, and Computer Science? I know that I can minor in Computer Science but I don't know if it will cover what I want to cover. I haven't talked to the Computer Science advisor yet, though I plan on it. Any help?

Regards,
Cmertin
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Honestly, for the amount of time you'll have to sink into three majors, it seems like it'll be more worthwhile to focus on two majors (or even just one) and just take extra classes from the other two fields to help you specialize in an area of interest. That will not only save you time, but also spare you a host of tedious "filler" classes--most majors have at least a couple. Plus, I've been told by a handful of advisors that grad programs tend to look at the classes you've taken more than at your actual major(s), so I don't know if three majors would give you a big advantage anyway.

So, my advice would be to take a handful of introductory programming and computer science courses to see how you like them and then see which classes in that area would be most beneficial for nuclear physics. Hopefully that's of some help.
 
  • #3
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Honestly, for the amount of time you'll have to sink into three majors, it seems like it'll be more worthwhile to focus on two majors (or even just one) and just take extra classes from the other two fields to help you specialize in an area of interest. That will not only save you time, but also spare you a host of tedious "filler" classes--most majors have at least a couple. Plus, I've been told by a handful of advisors that grad programs tend to look at the classes you've taken more than at your actual major(s), so I don't know if three majors would give you a big advantage anyway.

So, my advice would be to take a handful of introductory programming and computer science courses to see how you like them and then see which classes in that area would be most beneficial for nuclear physics. Hopefully that's of some help.

That makes sense. I'm going to be dual majoring in math and physics no matter what because becoming a math major is only one semester of courses more after all of your required physics courses are out of the way so it's not going to be adding that much more time towards my graduation date.
 
  • #4
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Have you ever heard of a job that required 3 majors? Most likely there will be a few people specializing in this and that and they work together to accomplish a goal. Sometimes you will need to do programming if it is too hard to explain the mechanics of the processes but you don't need a major to learn that. If an employer sees that you're a physics major they're going to assume that you know math really well and probably know a bit of programming. You don't need an official piece of paper to show this.
 
  • #5
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Well I know that for theoretical high-energy physics you need to know a bunch of math, physics, and programming. So if I shouldn't major in it, then how should I go about learning programming languages and what would be the best languages to learn?
 
  • #6
MathematicalPhysicist
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Some grad students will say that most of what they're doing is programming anyway (albeit in mathematical software).

The theoretical grounds of CS is basically discrete maths and logic (complexity, computational models, algorithms are really DM and L), and I don't see how would they come handy if your'e going to nuclear physics (maybe discrete maths will be handy a little bit). Other than that it's really only programming which really can be learned by yourself.

As a start, start with C or Python.
 
  • #7
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Dual majors are a borderline decision and should only be done if the student is 100 percent adament that he/she wants to do that. A triple major is counter-productive. If you want to study and learn, - that's great, but get to the grad level and move to self-studies as quickly as possible. In the real world you will be judged by what you can do, not by how many pieces of paper you can hang on the wall.
 
  • #8
Vanadium 50
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If you want to learn how to program, a CS degree is not the way to do it. (If you want to learn how to dig ditches, a civil engineering degree isn't the way to do that either - different skills)

I would recommend a class on data structures, and a class on algorithm design/computational complexity. These are useful for programmers. A class on numerical methods may or may not be something you will use later.
 
  • #9
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You can learn about systems and languages yourself. I'm not a computer science major, but I use C/FORTRAN on a UNIX platform to run n-body models. It's easy to learn computer languages, and installing Fedora on your laptop and screwing with it (which is exactly what I did) and figuring out how to run numerical simulations and solve difficult math problems numerically will give you enough knowledge in computers that you'll need to apply to mathematics and physics. All you need is a numerical methods/scientific computing book, perhaps a book on unix/linux systems and how to use, say, the BASH (Bourne-again Shell) or something (you can buy a tiny reference manual, or find this stuff online, it's all the same), and if you don't know how to program already I'd say buy a book on C programming. Everything else you can google how to do. In my opinion, this is the best way to learn this stuff, by using it and playing with it. If you can get involved in some research in any field (astronomy, math, cs, physics, mathematical biology, computational --insert buzzword here--) it will help you immensely in your skills.
 
  • #10
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my honest suggestion to you is to transfer to uf. i graduated from fsu with a degree in math but 1 class short of completing the physics degree as well (didn't do advanced lab). my brother is at uf (sitting here in his apartment right now typing this out) and his curriculum is literally twice the curriculum at fsu (mechanics and e&m (the two core courses) are two semester classes here at uf).

pm me if you want some advice about professors and classes.
 

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