Is a double major more likely to secure a PhD position in a top school than a person with a single major and two minors?

I see a double major (and probably even a single major/multiple minors) as an indication of indecisiveness and possibly intellectual dilettantism -- especially if that collection of majors/minors is wide-ranging and mostly unrelated. A PhD is about focus in and dedication to an incredibly narrow specialization even when things get hard, and if you've got a mind that flits from interest to interest, I'm likely to question your dedication.

I'd be extra special dubious of your application if I get the impression that you're padding your list of accomplishments with extra courses that lead to majo

I see a double major (and probably even a single major/multiple minors) as an indication of indecisiveness and possibly intellectual dilettantism -- especially if that collection of majors/minors is wide-ranging and mostly unrelated. A PhD is about focus in and dedication to an incredibly narrow specialization even when things get hard, and if you've got a mind that flits from interest to interest, I'm likely to question your dedication.

I'd be extra special dubious of your application if I get the impression that you're padding your list of accomplishments with extra courses that lead to majors/minors for the sake of getting into "good" PhD programs. What's to say that you'll view your PhD as anything more than yet another accomplishment?

Get a PhD because there's a narrow topic that you're interested in pursuing at incredible depth, or at the very least because you enjoy research. Structure your application to demonstrate that those are your motives for committing to upwards of 7 years of hard work, sacrifices, and poverty! Tacking on a bunch of irrelevant "accomplishments" to pad your application demonstrates that you might not know what you're getting into by applying to PhD programs.

Short answer-NO.
As a veteran of all-too-many grad admissions committees in physics,I can tell you that what people looks for is:

-quality of undergrad preparation and your academic record
-letters of recommendation and how they speak to your potential for research
-evidence of research achievement
-the Physics GRE (sad to say-but I cant change the rules single handedly).

People WILL look favorably on your challenging program and your math preparation,but no one cares whether its a double major,and minor,or simply some extra courses.And its NOT a substitute for research experience.

For what its w

Short answer-NO.
As a veteran of all-too-many grad admissions committees in physics,I can tell you that what people looks for is:

-quality of undergrad preparation and your academic record
-letters of recommendation and how they speak to your potential for research
-evidence of research achievement
-the Physics GRE (sad to say-but I cant change the rules single handedly).

People WILL look favorably on your challenging program and your math preparation,but no one cares whether its a double major,and minor,or simply some extra courses.And its NOT a substitute for research experience.

For what its worth,I did a Physics-Math double (in 3 yrs).I learned a lot and would do the same if had the proverbial "chance to do it over".But I can tell you that nobody cares about that double major but me :).

In general, I wouldn't recommend it. I know a very smart+dedicated person who pulled off 4 majors and who still ended up rejected at all of the graduate programs he applied for.

There are specific cases where pulling off two majors could put you at an advantage for interdisciplinary programs/mentors, however. For example, computational biology is a growing field, and there are still few students who are good at both CS + biology. Professors who study computational biology may value people who have experience in both CS+biology, for example.

And people who study computational biophysics may valu

In general, I wouldn't recommend it. I know a very smart+dedicated person who pulled off 4 majors and who still ended up rejected at all of the graduate programs he applied for.

There are specific cases where pulling off two majors could put you at an advantage for interdisciplinary programs/mentors, however. For example, computational biology is a growing field, and there are still few students who are good at both CS + biology. Professors who study computational biology may value people who have experience in both CS+biology, for example.

And people who study computational biophysics may value the combination of Physics + CS + Biology (though I wouldn't necessarily recommend majoring in all 3). Similarly, people who study astrobiology may value some combination of physics, chemistry, biology, atmospheric science/oceanography, and astronomy (though I really would not major in all of these fields).

Even then, though, you can demonstrate expertise in multiple areas not by double majoring - but by majoring in one area and doing research in another (e.g. majoring in CS/Physics/Applied Math [everyone loves Physics/CS/Applied Math majors] and then doing direct research in biology, chemistry, or atmospheric science]). Or alternatively, majoring in one area and taking the subject-specific GRE in the other field.

My guess would be undergrads with a single major/no minors would be over-represented in top PhD programs.

Doing a double major or two minors shows that you’re skilled in taking classes. That’s not a particularly distinctive skill. PhD programs are looking for students with a demonstrated capability to do research, and finding time to do research can be difficult if you’re taking lots of extra classes.

If you want to get into a graduate program in X, the best thing to do is major in X as an undergraduate. Double majoring in X and Y won't help to get into a graduate program in X.

If you major in a related field X' as an undergraduate, it helps to have taken several courses in the X field, or minored in X. Having a double major in X' and Y won't help to get into a graduate program in X.

The reason to double major is because you're really interested in two subjects X and Y, or in the interaction between X and Y. Later in your life you may be glad that you learned a lot about Y when you could,

If you want to get into a graduate program in X, the best thing to do is major in X as an undergraduate. Double majoring in X and Y won't help to get into a graduate program in X.

If you major in a related field X' as an undergraduate, it helps to have taken several courses in the X field, or minored in X. Having a double major in X' and Y won't help to get into a graduate program in X.

The reason to double major is because you're really interested in two subjects X and Y, or in the interaction between X and Y. Later in your life you may be glad that you learned a lot about Y when you could, even if you do go on to graduate school in X.

For PhD positions in the sciences, research is everything. No matter what, you need to be doing research internships constantly, as that A) gives you experience on what scientific research is all about in your chosen field and B) helps you out way more on your PhD applications than a second major. If you can double major while still putting in serious research time, than go for it. But if you need to cut something, cut the classes, not the research.

Every school has its own way of looking at this, so harder to generalize this. However, there doesn't appear to be much of a difference between the courses you've selected between the 2 options. I'd rather focus on building up your resume in other parts, e.g., doing research and publishing papers, so you can stand out in your grad application.

In America -- in the sciences, at least -- I can't imagine that this would actually matter either way. Professors in top departments are going to look for students who they think will do good research, which has little to nothing to do with how many of the department's course requirements they managed to check off.