I'm a third year Physics & Mathematics student, and through the years, I have done lots of self-study in semesters/winter breaks/summer breaks.

Now the thing has come to a point that I can learn almost anything by myself as long as I have the necessary prerequisites for studying that subject.In fact, what I have observed in these last 2 years is that I barely learn anything in the lectures I take compare to my self-studies. That is why, if I didn't have to take exams, I would spend all my time self-studying the lectures I need to graduate, and more.

Now the problem is, I'm not taking not much (in fact not at all) benefit from my physics major, and it seems to me that it just wastes my time. That is why, I was thinking to drop of physics, and just graduate from my mathematics major.

However, if I were to study in a field related to physics, would this have negative impact in my future career [In fact, I want to study to in a field that is the intersection of Physics and Mathematics; so I'm not planning to go for pure mathematics]? I mean after all, I'm dropping out that major, but the only reason that I'm doing is so that I can have much more time to self-study by which I learn better.

  • I doubt that anyone will find out about you dropping a major, besides your registrar and perhaprs your advisor.
    – xuq01
    Nov 29, 2018 at 17:53
  • @xuq01 Well, I would definitely mention that I was a physics major for 3 years; I would definitely get a reference letter from one of my professor there. Also I did add the courses I took there to my math major etc., just by looking in to my CV / transcript, anyone would figure out that I dropped my physics major.
    – Our
    Nov 29, 2018 at 17:56
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    I don't think it would so much be an issue that you dropped the physics major, as that you don't have a physics degree. You'd probably be treated the same as someone who had never declared a physics major at all, but happened to take some physics courses along with their math major. Nov 29, 2018 at 18:08
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    Does your question roughly boil down to "Can I do applied math related to physics with a degree in math and a bunch of additional coursework in physics?" - that's kind of how it comes across to me.
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 29, 2018 at 18:20
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    That I'd say certainly not - many (theoretical) quantum mechanists have pure math backgrounds.
    – xuq01
    Nov 29, 2018 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


Would this have negative impact in my future career?

Absolutely no one cares what you did in undergrad, except grad school admissions. Further, as Nate Eldredge said in the comments:

I don't think it would so much be an issue that you dropped the physics major, as that you don't have a physics degree.

So, I think your question is equivalent to:

Am I less likely to get into grad school for physics/math with only a math degree?

You're certainly less likely to get into physics grad school without a physics degree (though with enough coursework, it's not impossible). For math grad school, I'm less qualified to comment, but I strongly suspect that a dual degree would have more weight than one degree + coursework. So, yes, I think the second degree would help you get into grad school. Only you can weigh this reality against the advantages of self-studying.

By the way, I also wanted to comment on this line:

the only reason that I'm doing is so that I can have much more time to self-study by which I learn better.

This has been discussed elsewhere, the consensus being that while many passionate students feel this way, few truly do not benefit from a course's structure and a professor's experience. Just one other factor to consider in your decision.

  • Well, the question that you reference is also asked by me, but the question was there is that not having enough motivation for my self-studied during semesters, but even if I had, I've load of coursework, and lots of things that I want to study and learn, but doing both is almost impossible because it is like studying 3 different majors: math + physics + self-study. I mean one might think that self-study would be parallel to what I study in my self-studies, but, for example, one of my professor does not accept an answer ...
    – Our
    Nov 29, 2018 at 21:23
  • in an exam where you didn't solved it in the way s/he wanted you to do, so to pass that course, I have to attend and learn the technique in his/her way, not in the way that I'm comfortable wth, so the choice boils down for me is between learning properly and having a additional degree.
    – Our
    Nov 29, 2018 at 21:25
  • @onurcanbektas The reason for that is that the course is meant to teach you the techniques, not to teach you how to solve the typically trivial problems presented in a course format. If you have another way to solve the problem that would be fine if the point was to solve the problem; it's not.
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 29, 2018 at 22:33
  • @BryanKrause Well, from my point of view, it just boils downs to "APPLY THIS ALGORITHM", which can be done by computers much more efficiently & effectively & correctly, i.e I don't have to think, I just have to remember.
    – Our
    Nov 30, 2018 at 8:02

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