My dream occupation is to work as a Data Scientist.

I'm soon going to be completing my first semester as a physics student, as part of an incredibly prestigious physics program. We get to run an experiment at CERN in our third year! I'm currently ranked highly in this program (top 25%), and I could push myself to top 10% if needed.

Thing is, I'm not really interested in working as a physicist.

Should I switch to Math & CS? (I'd be in a mediocre program.)

Note - I'm currently in both physics and CS, not just physics. I'm asking if I should switch the physics major with a math one.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Stay in the physics program and learn computer science, either on your own time, or taking extra classes. Lean towards projects that require data analysis to get practical experience. $\endgroup$
    – Emre
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


My background is Physics undergrad, Physics grad, now in industry. Some advice off the top of my head:

  • If you can push top 10%, do it (always do your best).
  • Don't be surprised when jobs in industry don't care about you ranking/gpa (some do, some don't.). Rank/gpa is important for grad school however, and grad school is important for careers in data science
  • Major in what makes you happy.
  • If you stay in physics, learn to code and take some stats.
  • Physics will always impress people and there are many machine learning/ data science opportunities in physics.
  • Physics will teach you how and where to apply machine learning rather than being given perfect datasets to learn with.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I second this! I have a PhD in physics, did a post-doc in statistical genetics, and am now a data scientist in the private sector. My training in physics helped me adjust rapidly while doing my post-doc in genetics (even though I had no knowledge of genetics prior to that) which, in turn, helped in getting my data-science job and in adjusting to the requirements and in solving the problems. You'll learn plenty of statistics if you get to work on CERN-related projects, especially if you're part of the data analysis group. I'd say go with Physics and CS. $\endgroup$
    – darXider
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 20:54

Depends what field of data science you want to be in, and what you find most enjoyable. Its entirely possible to be a data scientist with just a physics degree. I did IT because I was interested network analytics, I know people who did psych because they wanted to do people analytics. Business degree to do marketing analytics.

If I was to do it again I would major stats, minor comp sci. Because really understand statistical concepts would be a huge plus, and having some programming skills is a huge plus to put you ahead of the pack.


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