Math Minor/Major or more Physics?

Momordicas
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Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:05 pm

Math Minor/Major or more Physics?

Postby Momordicas » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:20 pm

Hi everyone!

I'm a rising sophomore at a large state school ranked around 70th. I have a lot of extra time in my schedule from now until i graduate due to AP credit and i want to know if it is more beneficial to get an extra math minor / major on top of the physics degree or should i just take a bunch of extra upper level physics classes and maybe a few grad courses? Which do grad schools prefer to see?

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Sats
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Re: Math Minor/Major or more Physics?

Postby Sats » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:22 pm

It really depends on your grades. If you end up with a lowish physics GPA, then I'd add more physics to try and up the GPA. If you're doing well, then add the minor or maybe the major. Just make sure you judge your time appropriately, I"m a Physics/Math at a UArizona and a few semesters were really hard and brought down my GPA (EM/Proof Writing is a bad combo to take together, for instance).

admissionprof
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Re: Math Minor/Major or more Physics?

Postby admissionprof » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:09 pm

Momordicas wrote:Hi everyone!

I'm a rising sophomore at a large state school ranked around 70th. I have a lot of extra time in my schedule from now until i graduate due to AP credit and i want to know if it is more beneficial to get an extra math minor / major on top of the physics degree or should i just take a bunch of extra upper level physics classes and maybe a few grad courses? Which do grad schools prefer to see?


A math minor is irrelevant, almost every physics major is close anyway. A math major is of moderate help. Extra upper level physics classes is EXTREMELY helpful, assuming you do well.

Catria
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Re: Math Minor/Major or more Physics?

Postby Catria » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:45 pm

admissionprof wrote:A math minor is irrelevant, almost every physics major is close anyway. A math major is of moderate help. Extra upper level physics classes is EXTREMELY helpful, assuming you do well.


In fact, it's very easy to tack on a math major on top of a physics one at many colleges. At Tulane, for example, one needs four math courses beyond the physics major in order to fulfill both majors.

Again, please check your college's course catalog...

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midwestphysics
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Re: Math Minor/Major or more Physics?

Postby midwestphysics » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:21 am

It may also pay to consider the area you're interested in, and looking into computer science skills needed for that area. In many areas you're going to have to/want to learn multiple programming languages and software packages and it pays to get that out of the way early. You'll open yourself up to more opportunities and reduce your adjustment period and functional limitations. Get as many upper classes as you can but if you can fit it in I really recommend building robust programming skills. Think of it from an advisers point of view, most if not all the students they having coming to them have this and that physics course under their belt. However, not a lot of them will have fluent and fluid programming ability in things like C, Python, and relevant software. You'll also be able to jump right into more complex and interesting research topics faster. Not to mention that this will also come in very handy post-grad school.

In the end the offset is the same no matter which way you go and some people will tell you that you can pick these computer skills up later. That being said you're going to have to fill in the gaps at one point, whether it be those of your major or computational skills. Now a days with the super-specialization of fields the generalized nature of traditional classes may not be the best idea. If you have the basics covered you can pick up those specialized things that you'll need in regards to physics and math pretty quickly as you go and in some cases classes may not ever offer you the information and skills you'll need. I say it would pay to get the basics of programming as well in a formal setting so you can apply the same learning principle to that area. Personally I tend to think of the return of investment in this case. What upper level physics classes are offered that you haven't taken but are relevant to your goals? Taking an upper level class in astrophysics when you plan to go into medical physics or vice versa will demonstrate you can handle a variety of difficult physics concepts but it won't likely have much benefit in the long run toward your direct goals. On the other hand solid programming definitely will regardless of your heading. I like to think that if being very successful in QM, EM, Stat Thermo, etc + others relevant to your area doesn't already demonstrate that you're capable and prepared for the research/grad school then peripheral upper level classes aren't going to change that fact.




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