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Would Mathematical Physics benefit me?

  1. Jul 16, 2012 #1
    Hello everyone,

    i am just wondering if a mathematical physics honours degree would benefit me more if i am wanting to get into theoretical astrophysics or theoretical high energy physics afterwards for my graduate studies? Or should i just stick with a physics honours degree?

    i'm assuming it will benefit me more because a mathematical physics degree conatains the same amount required for a physics degree just a lot more math courses but that is just what i think with no university experience yet. any advice will help! thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2012 #2
  4. Jul 18, 2012 #3
    I did not know schools offer degrees in mathematical physics. How does this differ from a pure physics degree?
  5. Jul 18, 2012 #4
    Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada http://students.sfu.ca/calendar/physics/mathematical-phys-hon.html [Broken]

    the physics courses are all the same as regular physics honors but with an addition of 1 or 2 more math courses/semester on top of the math courses required for physics honors.

    i'm curious to know if the extra math will give me more to offer or i should say more of an advantage for when i go into my graduate studies. i'm thinking theoretical astrophyics
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Jul 18, 2012 #5
    "More to offer" than what? No extra anything? Probably. Extra physics? Probably not.
  7. Jul 18, 2012 #6
    sorry let me rephrase. would i as a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist in the future, benefit from a mathematical physics degree more or just physics degree? Will the extra math courses be beneficial in the fields of theoretical astrophysics/cosmology or just theoretical physics in general? Thanks for the replies!
  8. Jul 18, 2012 #7
    There are courses that look helpful. Are they helpful for graduate admission? Probably not (I wouldn't know). People studying physics should at least know:

    Single Variable, Multivariable, and Vector Calculus
    Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations
    Linear Algebra

    Other classes that would be helpful are Complex Analysis, Numerical Methods, and Statistics. That mathematical physics degree plan looks like the math + physics degree common at most schools. Just with a different name. :P
  9. Jul 18, 2012 #8
    Thank you for the reply! I am not too worried about if it will help with graduate admission. I am more interested to know if mathematical physics will give me a better foundation for theoretical physics or astrophysics for graduate school. I know the more math i know, the better. But are the extra math courses that relevent to what i want to get into? The main reason i am in this dilemma is because i want everything i can get my hands on to help me pursue a successful career as a scientist.
  10. Jul 18, 2012 #9
    That looks like a solid curriculum, I would do it. The question is, why not? What downsides are there for doing this degree, which just seems to be a few more math classes?
  11. Jul 18, 2012 #10
    The "Introduction to Analysis I + II" courses might not be directly helpful but they might be a prereq for another useful course. For example, a course in Applied Mathematics at my university would require a first semester in analysis. The course covers advanced math methods in physics here, but it is most likely different at your place. I'm sure the course on dynamical systems does, though. Other than that, everything else looks solid.

    Have you been assigned a faculty advisor/mentor yet? They would know more about the curriculum they set up.
  12. Jul 18, 2012 #11
    that is basically my perspective as well. But i have people telling me to focus on physics because thats more important and if i major in mathematical physics i will have to choose between math courses or physics courses if the times clash. Also, some say that the math i will be learning won't have any relationship with physics. So i wanted to get more insight from here. thanks for the post!
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
  13. Jul 18, 2012 #12
    hey thanks for the reply! i actually had another thread and someone who actually attended SFU told me for their 3rd and 4th year the math and physics courses clashed so he just chose physics instead(some courses do clash when i checked). i'm not concerned with the fact that it will maybe take an extra semester or two to complete my degree but what really got me thinking is if the extra semester or two is really worth it. i am, after all, wanting to pursue a career in physics, so its just been messing with my mind for awhile now :S
  14. Jul 18, 2012 #13
    Well, if you do theoretical physics -- your not always so sure what mathematics might be relevant in the future. There is a theoretical physicist in the institute of theoretical physics (she is quite pretty :D) who is using group theory to understand space. Sounds weird but that is what happens, every once in a while some mathematics is introduced into a particular field. If you do theory, it might help to take some of the extra math classes to build up your comfort level in math. But some classes are more essential to others and some classes have more potential for use than others, so it all depends. Most classes might very well be quite useless, so it is up to you.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
  15. Jul 18, 2012 #14
    thanks for the reply! i really appreciate it. I THINK i will go through with it. i'm going to talk to some professors and advisors
  16. Jul 18, 2012 #15
    thanks for the reply! i really appreciate it. I THINK i will go through with it. i'm going to talk to some professors and advisors
  17. Jul 18, 2012 #16
    I'm assuming the only difference is in math?

    All of this seems very reasonable, you have some very reasonable choices and the flexibility is quite good.
  18. Jul 18, 2012 #17
    yes i do have a lot to choose from. Another thing that has just caught my attention is won't extra math courses mean taking the places of physics courses :( man this is driving me nuts...
  19. Jul 18, 2012 #18
    Well that is true, it also might not leave you the chance of taking graduate classes if you were not planning on it. Life seems to be complex in every avenue. If only things were more simple huh?

    What physics courses would you able to take if you were not a mathematical physics major?
  20. Jul 19, 2012 #19
    I do also want to take graduate classes haha. I want to take astrophysics and as much physics as i can. Btw i plan on attending september 2013 i like to plan ahead...
  21. Jul 19, 2012 #20
    One must make tough decisions in limited time and resources. It isn't so cut and clear whether you should take the mathematical physics route or not. What I plan to do is to take the physics route, but to also add in some extra classes in math, physics, or computer science. It basically leaves me with the flexibility that I want without having the "mathematical physics" name to my degree. Maybe you can emulate that.

    You mean September 2012 right? And are you an incoming freshman or a transfer student?
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