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Worth it to double major in Math?

  1. Jun 13, 2009 #1
    I just stumbled upon a proposed applied math track (Decision to be made next fall by the department).

    Right now I am an Engineering Physics major (with a math minor). The interesting thing is, that all but 3 courses (the two stat classes and a numerical analyisis course) are what I have already planned for my math minor.

    The downside is that I would also have to take a few more general courses (mainly 4 quarters of a foriegn language) if I pursue the double major. This would most likely mean not being able to take some of the extra nuclear engineering courses I was planning on.

    So in your opinion, would it be worth it to double major in math while sacrificing a few nuclear engineering courses?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2009 #2
    No, having to take language courses just to get a math major is a waste of time.
  4. Jun 15, 2009 #3
    :uhh: nm that a foreign language is extremely useful?
  5. Jun 15, 2009 #4
    Worth it? Probably not if you plan to go on in nuclear physics. I'd think the minor would be sufficient to display you interest/mastery of math (especially if minor requirements are more than required for your major and you take the more difficult classes to get the minor).

    This is advice for if you also have no affinity for learning a second language. If you did... that might change things and make the decision process more difficult. I do think foreign languages are probably useful, and wish I had more affinity for them myself.
  6. Jun 15, 2009 #5
    Thanks all, this is about what I was leaning towards as well. As Physics Girl correctly guessed, I have no interest in taking any foreign language. I took spanish, french and latin in high school and didn't exactly enjoy it much.
  7. Jun 15, 2009 #6
    you misunderstood my comment. i was being sarcastic. i was implying that learning a foreign language is extremely useful and hence should not be a reason why you wouldn't do the double
  8. Jun 15, 2009 #7
    I double majored in physics and math when I was in undergrad, now working on a PhD in particle astrophysics. I would say that as far as preparation for graduate school goes, the math major is pretty worthless. The only advantage it gave me is that I got to skip the course on mathematical methods for physical sciences. All the math you need for physics (and I presume nuclear engineering), you'll learn in your physics classes. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I majored in math, since I enjoyed studying it in undergrad. But career-wise, it's not going to help you out. If you're going to major in math, you should do it because you enjoy it. I doubt it'll help you with physics though.
  9. Jun 16, 2009 #8
    It depends entirely on your interest, but I would suggest that you take classes that you find appealing without worrying too much about the degree at the end. If you're definitely going into physics, having a degree in math won't help you very much. However, if you have an interest in mathematics, it would be far more rewarding to take a few random classes that you will enjoy than worrying about what satisfies degree requirements.
  10. Jun 16, 2009 #9
    FLAT, do the double major. Scientists NEED to have a good knowledge of several foreign languages. It is very useful.

    If I were you, I'd take the language course whether or not is was required.

    I would personally suggest that you learn German, since it is a standard sciencey language.

    Viel Gluck!
  11. Jun 16, 2009 #10


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    I'd agree with Pinu that the foreign language course is worth taking regardless of major requirements. As for doing a double major vs a minor, it's not going to matter a lot unless you think you want the option to leave physics and use the math background for something else. The important thing with university is to finish at least one major, complete any core requirements for the degree, and then supplement your educational experience with any other courses that interest you or seem useful that will fit into your schedule without overstretching yourself. Also remember that in your senior year, you may need to take time off for grad school interviews or job interviews or whatever you plan to do after you graduate, so that last semester is often a good time to back off on your credit load to just what's needed to maintain full-time status rather than trying to overload on credits just to squeeze in another major.
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