If you are wondering what is the difference between applied physics and applied mathematics, this is the right post to read.
1 – applied math is broader than applied physics
Applied math is a topic that prepares students to specialize in all science specialties including physics, biology, engineering, computer science, business, economics, psychology, etc. For any topic that involves or requires math to study, applied math is involved.
So students who graduate with applied math degrees can work in illimited industries as we mentioned, they can even work in psychology or business as you can not be expected. Whereas applied physics is made to prepare students to work in physics fields, biology, and engineering, which makes applied math border and have many opportunities than applied physics.
Even with an applied math degree you can work or take specialization in physics topics, typically applied physics student study topics like thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, etc. Because math is the principal subject in physics.
so we can admit that applied physics is a branch of applied math even though both subjects are taught independently. but in some cases, there are programs that can combine them together.
In other words, you can study applied math and applied physics in a singular course, this is what I will be talking about later in the article.
2 – applied math involve a lot of math to study than applied physics
In an applied math course you will be focusing only on all math applications used in computer science and engineering, you will not study physics topics like thermodynamics, quantum physics, or classical mechanics, taught in applied physics courses.
Applied math students are required to complete the most difficult math course like:
While applied physics is less math intensive but not so much, almost 80% of applied math subjects are included in applied physics. You will be excluded from some topics like computation systems, numerical analysis, and complex variables in addition to other related topics.
But the principal topics of calculus and differential equations are mentioned in both subjects, here are the principal topics you will be studying in applied physics:
So applied physics is a course made for students who like physics and math, while applied math is for pure mathematicians who love only to play with numbers and functions.
3 – you could study applied math and applied physics together
There are programs that teach applied math and applied physics combined, where students learn the principal topics of math and physics. These programs are completed in 4 years as any traditional program of engineering, physics, or math.
The double major in applied math and applied physics is a mixed program where students have to complete principal topics of math and physics. They study math topics like:
and at the same time need to complete physics courses like:
It is one of the most useful programs but it is very challenging and requires you to be very passionate and have excellent abilities in math and physics. This program is not made for students who are doubting themselves in math or physics, it is for people who are ready to challenge themselves and to absorb these heavy topics.
It is a great opportunity for students who love to have many variables and flexible opportunities to work in many industries, if you graduate with a double degree in applied math and physics you will have the opportunity to work with famous and top companies in the world, you can discover more in this video below.
4 applied physics and applied math are the most difficult stem courses
If you decide to study applied math or physics, you have to consider that these topics are more difficult than physics or engineering majors, because thesis topics combine engineering, math, and physics.
In applied physics you will be solving a lot of math equations in multiple problems, in addition, you must have some background in programming and design (optional). Because in applied physics labs you will be making a lot of practice and theory together.
you could be working with robots or designing products from scratch, so will have to use physics and math equations to design a product or make it efficient. Your goal is not only to design but to go deeper into the details and solve some complex problems engineers can’t do, you‘ll be doing the job of physicist and engineer at the same time.
On the other hand, as an applied mathematician, you will probably design or work on new algorithms or math systems that solve difficult problems in computer science, physics, or any tough topics that require an efficient mathematical solution.
You will not only solve math equations on boards or paper, you will be applying your math to design new softwares or enhance them. For instance working on a new algorithm in computer vision, or machine learning, or coming up with new software to make an approximation or prediction for business companies.
If you decide to take or have a double degree in both, it will be good and brilliant. But in this case, you have to understand math and physics, which will not be an easy mission. You will have a lot of effort and sacrifice to deploy.
conclusion: which should I choose applied math or applied physics?
If you are very good and feel comfortable studying math and physics together and absorbing things faster, it will be amazing to take a double major or course in applied math and physics.
If you don’t like physics, you could opt for applied math, there is no thermodynamics or quantum mechanics, you can only focus on math and apply it in different areas outside of physics.
The same thing for people who don’t like to go deeper in math, they could take an applied physics course, focusing on physics topics and studying only the necessary math subjects like calculus and differential equations.