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What should I major in?

isaiahtx

Member
Hello! I am a current high school senior and I have been accepted to UC San Diego for Electrical Engineering. I’ve recently been thinking and researching, and I’m heavily considering switching my major to math. I feel I would enjoy a math major much more, but to be honest, I always assumed that getting a math major would result in less career opportunities and money than engineering, but that may not be true, especially with something such as quantitative analysis.

Essentially what I’m asking is what kind of math would be best to major in for both undergrad and grad school. My undergrad options at UCSD are:
  • General Mathematics (Calc, linear algebra, analysis, abstract algebra, then 13 courses in whatever I want)
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Probability & Statistics (I’m not a huge fan of doing just statistics, I’d like to ideally be exposed to more math)
  • Math & CS
  • Math & Economics (not a fan)
Here is a breakdown of the math major options at UCSD and here is the mathematics course catalog.

In regards to grad school, how much does my graduate major matter? Ideally I don’t want to pigeonhole myself with MFE and I’d prefer a more general degree. Does a statistics undergrad major really make that much of a difference compared to a more general math major or an applied math major? What should I be shooting for?
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
Aim for this:

The department also offers a three-quarter Honors Calculus sequence in Multivariable and Vector Calculus and Linear Algebra. This sequence, MATH 31AH-BH-CH, is designed for well-prepared students who have both a strong aptitude and a deep interest in mathematics and who wish to undertake a challenging series of courses. The sequence has a prerequisite of a score of 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam.

They're probably using the book by Hubbard and Hubbard but I'm not sure. I assume you already have, or will be taking the BC exam. On top of this read Courant and Robbins' What is Mathematics? Also try working through an intro analysis text -- something like Howie's Real Analysis.
 

princeofbelair

Active Member
Why did you choose electrical engineering in the beginning? What about math do you enjoy? High school math vs upper level college mathematics are quite different. My perception of math drastically changed, in a good way, but many people do not see it that way. It depends what you're planning to do for grad school, but for an MFE, any of the STEMS should be fine as long as you hit the fundamental courses like probability, linear algebra, multi calc, basic stat and some programming.
 

isaiahtx

Member
Aim for this:



They're probably using the book by Hubbard and Hubbard but I'm not sure. I assume you already have, or will be taking the BC exam. On top of this read Courant and Robbins' What is Mathematics? Also try working through an intro analysis text -- something like Howie's Real Analysis.

Oh trust me I’m for sure taking the honors sequence. I found this website from the 31AH class from Fall ‘19 and I’ve been teaching myself the material and going along with the homework assignments. Here is a link to the first homework assignment. I really enjoy that, and I believe it’s indicative of higher-level math as it’s a completely proofs-based linear algebra course. I of course already got a 5 on my Calc BC exam.

The book for 31AH is by Hubbard & Hubbard (I’ve been going through it) and the book for 31BH is by Shifrin. I don’t know about 31CH.

I think what I’m going to do is go down the general math path, take the courses people have suggested, the ones that interest me, and then shoot for an MFE. My question regarding an MFE: is it possible that I’ll pigeonhole myself into doing quantwork? To be honest, I’m not that excited about the financial side of the job, only really the mathematical. I more see MFE as a way to do the major I really want to do and make a lot of money hopefully doing something I enjoy doing. But I obviously won’t know if I actually enjoy the life of a quant until I become one. Would doing MFE make it harder for me to get jobs outside of finance/teaching roles?
 
Last edited:

isaiahtx

Member
Why did you choose electrical engineering in the beginning? What about math do you enjoy? High school math vs upper level college mathematics are quite different. My perception of math drastically changed, in a good way, but many people do not see it that way. It depends what you're planning to do for grad school, but for an MFE, any of the STEMS should be fine as long as you hit the fundamental courses like probability, linear algebra, multi calc, basic stat and some programming.

I enjoy the puzzle-like aspect of math. See my response to bigbadwolf. I have some experience programming and I *think* that I have a good idea of the kind of math that I’d be studying.
 
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