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Studying Triple major

  1. Feb 7, 2017 #1
    Is a triple major in math, physics and computer science possible? Can someone manage to get a hight GPA while triple majoring? One that can get you admitted to MIT or Caltech?
    And what do these universities look for in a student? What do you need to have to get accepted?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2017 #2


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    Why would you do that?

    Double majoring, maybe, but why triple?

    Sure you can keep up a high GPA, but you will most likely be at your undergrad institution for another year at least to make sure you meet all the different requirements for the different majors.

    The best universities look for the best candidates. For graduate school, you need excellent grades, standardized test scores, research experience, and stellar recommendations.
  4. Feb 7, 2017 #3


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    Yes, it's possible at some universities. And yes, it's possible to do so and maintain a "perfect" 4.0 GPA.

    But it's important to consider both the advantages and consequences of such a decision.

    The main advantage of multiple majors, as I see it, it that you come out on the other side qualified for graduate school in multiple fields. At that point you can still only attend one. But technically you would have your pick of which direction to go in. Another advantage that students often try to take advantage of is a balance of professional options with academic interests. Computer science and engineering majors tend to be more easily employable than math or physics majors - or at least that's the perception. You are probably going to be more competitive for a programming position if at least one of your majors is in computer science.

    One of the perceived advantages, that may or may not actually be there is the synergistic effect. For the specific example given above - someone with skills in computer science, physics, and mathematics is bound to be successful in a field of physics that draws on all of those skills - even to the point of doing better than someone who only majored in physics. The reason I draw this into question is that there's no reason someone with a single major couldn't acquire a similar skill set by taking some key electives. In many cases whether those electives add up to a second (or third) major is often a matter of what the particular university is willing to recognize. And sometimes you might end up as a better programmer by taking that fourth year 'computational methods in physics' course as opposed to that second year 'introduction to java' required for the computer science majors.

    The disadvantages often come in terms of less freedom with electives and increased overall course load. Some people are okay with less electives, but sometimes it's those elective courses that end up having the greatest impact on your life. In term of course load, sometimes that second or third major means another year or two of study and the costs associated with it. In those cases you have to consider whether that added major is worth the cost. There is also opportunity cost to factor in: if you are trying to squeeze five years worth of courses into four years, how are you going to have time to support yourself with a part-time job (and gain the valuable real-world experience that will ultimately help you get a career job)? How are you going to stay healthy? How are you going to date and develop friendships?
  5. Feb 7, 2017 #4
    Being a triple major almost necessarily means you will not have time to get the research experience necessary to get into a top graduate school.
  6. Feb 7, 2017 #5


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    There's no need to fulfill requirements for three different majors. You should just choose one (or maybe two) and otherwise take classes you find interesting. The thing that is important is the classes you take, not have three majors listed on your transcript. Some of the requirements for the other majors you may not want to take.
  7. Feb 8, 2017 #6
    I don't understand how undergrad students do research? Is this the same in Germany?
    and what about a double major?
  8. Feb 8, 2017 #7
    Can I as a physics major take computer science classes?
  9. Feb 8, 2017 #8
    I think a lot of us (myself included) are talking about the US system, are you talking about that or the German system?

    Here in the US you can take CS courses as a physics major, though mostly with departmental approval. To take some CS courses, I had to speak to the CS department chair and demonstrate that I had the prerequisite knowledge.
  10. Feb 8, 2017 #9
    Possible? Yes, I have friends who attempted triple majoring in Math, Physics, and Economics.

    The real question is why would you want to do that?
  11. Feb 8, 2017 #10


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    Not necessarily true, since the research experience would be something that a student will most likely pursue during the summer months when students are taking a break from studies.
  12. Feb 8, 2017 #11


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    To the OP:

    Choppy has made some great points about the possibility of triple majoring (in mathematics, physics, and computer science) and the possible advantages and disadvantages of such a choice.

    What you need to think about (among others, as already identified by the other threads here) is this: why would you want to consider this option? Are you genuinely passionate about or interested in all 3 fields, and can't decide on what to study? Are you considering applying for graduate studies in any of these fields, and want to keep your options open?
  13. Feb 8, 2017 #12
    I am genuinely interested Physics and Math and computer science, I have always been and I want to learn all three. And I want to go to a grad school as a physics student, my goal is to do research, although I understand this is not easy, but I want to take this path anyways.
    Now the problem is that I was 17 when I entered college in my country, and because my country isn't really great when it comes to science ( or education in general ) I chose Germany, I am 18 now and I am going soon to Germany for one year of language school, one year of preparation ( because in Germany they usually study 13 years ) and then I will go to the university.
    I have 2 or 3 years to study and do whatever I want before doing any serious studies.
    Now the question is, will I have to do research after that? Is it possible to maintain a high GPA?
  14. Feb 8, 2017 #13
    Most students doing research do so year round. Their big paid REU's and such like may happen in the summer of Junior year; but it behooves most to do some sort of work year round. A triple major would make this prohibitive because of the time needed to do well in all the classes.
  15. Feb 8, 2017 #14


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    At some point, this discussion carries way too many "What if's" and "Is it possible" that a cow has transformed into a goat.

    I have only one very simple question to the OP: Are you very smart, and are you capable to graduating with excellent grades while majoring in those 3 areas?

    If your answer is "yes", then we have nothing to talk about here, haven't we? You should have the ability and freedom to do whatever you wish.
    If your answer is "no", then this has answered your original question.

    You are the ONLY person here who can answer this, because you are the only one who knows your capabilities.

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