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Double Major in Physics and Aerospace? Also, how to keep studying Chinese?

CallofEducationCallofEducation Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
Is this advisable? I've been accepted into both schools Lewis University and IIT. This is a joint program.

I have taken AP Calculus and currently take it now. I'm taking AP Physics II now and another advanced math course.

Here's the course catalog. I hear Chemistry is designed to weed out engineers and I have to be ready for this.


I passed AP Chinese as well and I'm currently a Chinese II teacher assistant. I've been studying Chinese consistently since the 7th grade. I'm currently a senior.

Replies to: Double Major in Physics and Aerospace? Also, how to keep studying Chinese?

  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,335 Senior Member
    What do you want to do after you graduate? The program is 5 years and I'm not sure the physics betters the AE degree or that the AE betters the physics degree to make it worth the extra year. That is especially important considering that in 5 years, at many schools you can walk out with not just BS/BS, but BS/MS. @xraymancs would know for sure though.

    As for continuing Mandarin, my son was in the same boat. The Chinese at his college, even in the highest level classes, was below the level he was at. He ended up just giving it up. For you, you need to decide how important it is to you. The easiest thing to do is to find people you can converse with. No one will care if you have further formal education. They will care about your practical fluency.
  • CallofEducationCallofEducation Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I want to definitely continue getting better at Chinese. That’s sad I think what happened to your son. I’m hoping I can get a full ride so I can maybe work my way into getting Chinese courses and Networking at IIT... IIT also gave me an extra 5K on top of the 27.5k they have already given me that can be used for a project of my choice. I want a strong Chinese program. The main issue is that Lewis University seems to have a rather weak Chinese program.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,335 Senior Member
    What you haven't answered is why you feel like having BOTH a Physics and Aerospace BS, and spending 5 years to do it, will further your career options.
  • CallofEducationCallofEducation Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I don’t really understand how it wouldn’t.
  • HPuck35HPuck35 Registered User Posts: 1,922 Senior Member
    What eyemgh is trying to point out is that you have only one career. Is it to be physics or aerospace? Whichever you decide, will the classes in the other further that career. If so, then the double major is worth it, otherwise why bother?
  • 1NJParent1NJParent Registered User Posts: 843 Member
    An undergraduate aerospace engineering degree is really a misnomer, even though a few colleges offer it. What you're really studying is physics with a concentration in fluid mechanics and some basic engineering, so the double-major offering is really a gimmick. It won't add much.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,335 Senior Member
    @CallofEducation said "I don’t really understand how it wouldn’t."

    Expanding on HPuck's point, you will get more physics classes in your scenario, but will they make you more money or more employable as an AE? Probably not. Nor will the AE classes improve your odds in the physics job market. They are similar, but not additive.

    Now, consider the cost. Even with your good aid, school isn't free, but even if it was you're delaying employment one year. That alone will cost you about $70k.

    Alternatively you could spend that year deepening your knowledge in either making your employability and earning potential higher.
  • AuraObscuraAuraObscura Registered User Posts: 614 Member
    edited February 16
    @1NJParent I would put it differently—generally speaking, an undergraduate aerospace engineering is basically a mechanical engineering degree with extra emphasis on fluid mechanics and aerodynamics/aerostructures. The curriculum for the program that @CallofEducation linked looks to me a lot like every other AE curriculum (ME with an emphasis on fluids) I've seen and nothing like a physics undergraduate curriculum (which should include upper level courses in classical mechanics and E&M beyond the basic introductory courses, as well as courses/electives in quantum mechanics, waves, optics, thermal and statistical physics, etc.).

    Either way, I definitely agree with what everyone has been saying: choose one. This dual degree won't help prospects at all. It doesn't contain enough physics to yield much utility as a physics degree. It's basically a 5-year engineering degree without a good reason for taking 5 years instead of 4. That's time that could be better spent working or getting an MS (or other graduate degree).

    If it took 4 years, I would say there's no harm in getting it because the dual degree might look nice on paper, even if it doesn't provide much background in physics, and only takes 4 years, but that's not the case.
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,618 Forum Champion
    Sorry about the delayed response. I am in agreement with others that taking an extra year to get 2 BS degrees is not terribly useful. We have a number of students at Illinois Tech who take an Aerospace Engineering degree and a Physics degree simultaneously but I only recommend it if they can manage both in 4 years. Otherwise there are better options such as a combination of BS in AE and an MS in Applied Physics, or a BS in Applied Physics which is basically a double major in Physics and Engineering.

    As others have noted, I would also ask what is your ultimate goal? If it is to work as an engineer, then just do the BS in Aerospace and take electives in Physics for your own personal interest (maybe a minor if you can fit it into 4 years). If you want to go to graduate school then take the degree which prepares you best for the graduate degree and instead of spending time taking a lot more classes, get a lot of research experience to better prepare yourself. If you really like Physics but are afraid that there are no jobs you can find with a BS then, you should not worry, Physics majors are easily employable in lots of areas.

    Finally, I think I have to mention that the kind of program the OP describes is a 2+2 with a Physics Degree at Lewis University and an Aerospace Engineering degree at IIT. In general these programs take more than the promised 4 years and unless there is a very specific reason to want to attend both universities, it is rarely a great idea. Going for a single degree at one or the other schools is probably a better choice.
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