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In college, I was planning on pursuing a double major. I was planning on obtaining a PhD in astrophysics and a bachelors in robotics engineering. I was wondering: how hard would this be and would it even be possible?

Asked Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

I was planning on obtaining this degree so I would have a back-up plan in life. If one career fell through, I could rely on the other. I find both subjects really interesting to me and I would like to make possible careers out of them. In the best case scenario, I could possibly find a career where I could make use of both degrees. Please help. #physics #double-major #robotics #astrophysics #robotics-engineer

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Keith’s Answer

Updated

Hi Braden,

A PhD and a Bachelors of Science (BS) aren't exactly a double major--I would consider two BS degrees in parallel a double major. You would obtain a PhD and BS sequentially, with a BS first, and then possibly a Masters (MS) or PhD. The PhD is highly specialized, although many of the best researchers do interdisciplinary work, i.e., work combining multiple fields. That allows them to bring new perspectives to other fields, and can lead to major breakthroughs.

It's also not unheard of to obtain a PhD in a different field than your undergraduate degree, especially if they are similar or related, which may be of interest to you. While you wouldn't necessarily switch from one field to another, you could use your knowledge in one field to make unique contributions. For example, if you are doing a PhD in astrophysics, you may focus your research on problems that could be solved with robotics.

You may want to look up some researchers in astrophysics at different universities, and see what kind of research they're doing, and what kind of background their grad students have. That will give you some idea of what sounds interesting to you, although your interests may change over time, and if you are not yet in college they may change quite a bit. However, if you are trying to get a PhD in a different field, it would be good to take some undergraduate courses in astrophysics so that you have some foundation in the field.

Keith

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