I am nearing the end of my degree (which is equivalent to a double major B.Sc in mathematics and physics) and the time has come to specialize in a field. The chliche is almost obvious, I am having a hard time choosing between studying:
- Fundamental physics; high-energy theory. Due to the lack of knowledge I cant be more specific.
- Mathematics; Mostly of the analysis sort (in the intersection of geometry, functional analysis, probability). Perhaps with a more applicable touch.
I have not considered anything else. CS / engineering do sound nice and exciting, but I know too little about either to determine if I may enjoy them.
To make sure this isn't the standard "math vs physics" topic; I will attempt to detail as much as I can, and pose answerable questions.
After lengthy contemplation, I am still unable to realize towards where each academic degree would lead me. Academia is an option, but, adopting a more realistic point of view, the number of positions is small and I cannot foresee whether I will still like academia. This pushes me to explore other possibilities. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have enjoyed both topics very much, and studied them with success.
To avoid unnecessary repetitions, in the rest of my post, physics would mean high-energy physics (phenomenology or theory). Math would mean geometry, functional analysis, probability.
- What skills, applicable outside of physics/math, does one acquire in physics/math PhD?
- What can a physics/math student do during their PhD to increase their job applicability? I refer to this What skills can I get during a PhD to be competitive on the job market against non-PhD holders? but would like to note that the former is broader, as the possible PhD there is not mentioned.
- When physics/math PhDs leaves academia, they would rebrand themselves, for example, as engineers or data scientists. How difficult such a transition is? Asking friends, professors and searching through the internet shows they get to high-tech, big data, financial trading. But more specifically, how could a theoretician/mathematician develop the skills to become, for instance, chief engineer (maybe simply engineer)?
- Are these degrees appreciated outside of academia? For comparison, let's say CS and engineering are appreciated. How bad does math/physics compare to them? I apologise this question is not very subjective, but I get the feeling that although people who go through these programs are capable of dealing with such abstract concepts - they are disregarded outside of academia.
- Studying any of these, can you get involved in developing algorithms fairly easily? What about AI? This sound like things I would like to do if academia doesn't work out for me.
I find this: MS degree after a PhD in physics demoralising, but would like to understand what I should expect. Expiriences like that probably answer some of my questions, and are very welcome.