Physics is a notoriously difficult field with many challenging branches, including quantum physics, mathematical physics, biophysics, astrophysics, and much more. But physics is also tremendously rewarding for those who put in the time and study. If you’re curious about nature, good with numbers, and up for a challenge, consider majoring in physics.
Physics is the study of matter, energy and the properties comprising the physical world around us. Physics is also one of the oldest scientific fields. As long as people have wondered about energy, force, and how the physical world behaves, physics has been a topic of discussion. Because of this, completing a major in physics opens you up to a vast world of fascinating subjects–everything from the behavior of distant stars and mysterious space radiation, to the ideal design of cars for keeping passengers safe during a collision.
If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Physics.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as a Physics Major.
Careers in physics tend to be highly specialized, which means that those who occupy these roles typically earn a healthy living. Six-figure salaries are not uncommon in this field. This is because the work that physics majors are asked to do is advanced, challenging, and weighted with responsibility. If you’re up to the task, you may be well compensated for your effort.
Physics is the study of interactions between objects, and the forces that define those interactions. Because of this, physics majors develop a fundamental understanding of how the world literally moves.
Physics is a field of logic and prediction, as much as it is a field of practical application. Because of this, physics majors are good at solving problems, and not just ones in the field. Physics majors develop useful knowledge and skills that can be applied in a wide range of specialized settings and everyday situations.
Physics majors fill fascinating jobs in scientific fields and often work with advanced technology. As a physicist, you might use high-powered telescopes to unravel the mysteries of the distant corners of the universe; study the process of plants extracting energy from the sun to produce more efficient solar power technology; or design and perfect cutting edge aerospace technology. If you’re interested in pushing the limits and taking on big challenges, physics is the field for you.
Physics majors work in a wide array of fields, striving to advance our understanding of the universe, and how we apply that knowledge. Today, top influencers in physics are breaking new ground in mathematical physics, quantum field theory, theoretical physics, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Physics today!Back to Top
Physics degrees are available at all levels of study. Whether you choose to earn an associate degree and enter the workforce immediately, or you continue all the way through to a doctoral degree, will depend on your professional and personal goals. It’s important to remember, however, that most jobs in the field require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or beyond.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Thinking of a graduate degree in physics? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Physics? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.Back to Top
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular physics concentrations:
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a physics major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as thermodynamics and modern physics. However, you will also have the freedom to select an array of courses that most interest you. As a physics major, you’ll have the chance to craft a well-rounded educational experience that ultimately furthers your professional goals.
Common physics courses include:
Majoring in physics opens up a diverse array of exciting and well-paying careers in science, technology and medicine. Your physics major can lead to a wide range of professional opportunities, including these top jobs:
Curious how far you could go with a major in physics? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!
Take a look at our guide to some of the most popular college majors and programs if you’re still struggling with what to study in college.
Thinking of a graduate degree in physics? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Physics? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.***
Now that you know how to major in physics, check out The Most Influential Schools in Physics and get started on your path to a physics degree.
And if you’re shopping for the right college, be sure that you’ve reviewed our Resources on critical issues like Accreditation, Scholarships, Financial Aid, and more!