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Chemistry & Physics Double Major

haroldmacloudharoldmacloud 11 replies4 threads Junior Member
edited November 2017 in Science Majors
Hi all,
I am a high school senior and want to do materials science. I want to have a liberal arts education/small school for undergrad so I am applying ED to Swarthmore (Grinnell and Carleton are my two other top picks). I want to go into Materials Science and to get here with a liberal arts education, I would plan on double majoring in chemistry and physics and then, after doing research/working, I'd go into a graduate program to get my PhD in Materials science. I was recommended path by a professor who is in charge of the 3-2 Program at Grinnell and said that this is a popular path for many future Materials Science students and researchers.
I have read various forums saying having a chemistry major is not all too useful today. I want a job in between undergrad and grad school, and want to know (given I work hard in my undergrad and do well academically) if doing a chemistry and physics double major to pursue Materials Science can be done, or is a wise plan with a liberal arts education.

What kind of background will I have with this kind of major combination? Will I have good chances at research opportunities?

My ultimate goal is to work in the industry of renewable energy, hopefully even creating my own product: is my path correct path for this desire?

Any and all suggestions are appreciated.
edited November 2017
2 replies
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Replies to: Chemistry & Physics Double Major

  • AwesomeAxolotlAwesomeAxolotl 90 replies13 threads Junior Member
    It depends on the school I suppose, but upper level courses in these two fields can get HARD. I've never taken these courses but all of the chem and phys majors I know like to relay how difficult it can get. In addition, besides the math requirements and probably some intro courses, you may not have any overlap in your upper level courses which can make time and scheduling a difficult factor. But again, this just depends on the school and specific program.
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  • xraymancsxraymancs 4725 replies19 threads Super Moderator
    I got both a B.S. in physics and a B.S. in chemistry when I was in college many years ago. I did it because I could finish in 4 years with both but otherwise, I would not recommend it. You can go into materials science from a chemistry or a physics background. You can do it with a Ph.D. in Physics or chemistry or materials science. I consider myself a materials scientist and I have the two B.S. degrees and a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics. My research is in x-ray studies of battery and fuel cell materials most recently but I have worked on other kinds of materials in the past. My closest collaborators have Ph.D.s in chemistry or materials engineering as well as physics. I have Ph.D. students in both physics and chemistry departments. What you study in your career is not so much dependent on your specific degree but where your interest takes you.

    The best thing to do, if you plan on a Ph.D. is to not take extra years to get your degree but study the major you like best and then forge ahead in that field making sure your research leans in the direction you are excited about.

    By all means apply to liberal arts schools but don't exclude small technical universities like those in the AITU. Many of them have Ph.D. programs in physics or chemistry or materials engineering where you can get to do research alongside graduate students and they have small class sizes too.
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