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2021 Physical Sciences Degree Guide

The Physical Sciences field is multi-disciplinary, allowing students to take classes in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, meteorology, and more in order to learn the laws of nature, the chemical makeup of rocks and soil and much more. Graduates learn math and science skills that prepare them for careers in a variety of industries.

Physical Sciences is a large field with several possible choices for majors. Students can major in General Physical Sciences for a broad education in all topics. If they are more interested in space and space travel, the may choose a major in Astronomy and Astrophysics, while those interested in weather can major in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology. Other majors include Chemistry, Geological and Earth Sciences, Physics and Material Sciences.

Physical Sciences Degrees Remain Stable

#18 Most Popular Major
53.6k Degrees Awarded
-0.4% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, physical sciences was the 18th most popular major nationwide with 53,556 degrees awarded. This is approximately the same as the 53,768 graduates the prior year.

There are 1,382 schools offering degrees in physical sciences in the United States. This year's Best Colleges for Physical Sciences ranking compares 143 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of physical sciences programs later in this article.

Physical Sciences Degree Requirements

Students who pursue a degree in Physical Sciences have a strong background in math and science, specifically chemistry and physics. Other necessary skills for a successful career in this field include analytical and critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills. Scientists often work together to solve problems making it important for accurate information to be spread efficiently and project requirements to be thoroughly explained.

Bachelor's degrees in this field may allow for an entry-level position, but a master's or Ph.D. is required for advancement. These additional degrees also give graduates the ability to conduct research, pursue fulltime positions, and lead projects.

Getting Accepted Into a Physical Sciences Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific physical sciences careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of Physical Sciences Degrees

There are many different physical sciences degree levels. Physical Sciences programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest physical sciences degree you can get. How long it takes to complete some common physical sciences degree levels is shown below.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to physical sciences, with approximately 32.9% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to physical sciences tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 33.0%
Master’s Degree 25.7%
Doctoral Degree 19.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 11.8%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 3.5%

58.4% of physical sciences workers have at least a master's. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in physical sciences careers have.

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This of course varies depending on which physical sciences career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Physical Sciences Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$38.1k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Students who graduate with a degree in the Physical Sciences often pursue careers that allow them to work closely with the natural world. Graduates have gone on to find jobs as meteorologists, geologists, chemists, physicists, and astronomers. Their advanced knowledge in math and science fields have allowed graduates to find jobs at research and development firms, with NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and at the National Weather Service.

Solid Growth Projected for Physical Sciences Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your physical sciences degree? Physical Sciences careers are expected to grow 8.3% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to physical sciences.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Professors 258,700 9.4%
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists 99,400 11.1%
Chemists 94,000 6.5%

Physical Sciences Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated physical sciences students earned an average of $38,122 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $11,100 to as high as $117,200. As you might expect, salaries for physical sciences graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.

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High Paying Careers for Physical Sciences Majors

Salaries for physical sciences graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers physical sciences grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Natural Sciences Managers $139,680
Physicists $125,280
Engineering Professors $113,680
Astronomers $111,090

Getting Your Physical Sciences Degree

With over 6,570 different physical sciences degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased physical sciences school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Physical Sciences

Physical Sciences Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Chemistry 22,156
Physics 13,927
Geological & Earth Sciences 9,522
General Physical Sciences 4,527
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,168

View All Physical Sciences Related Majors >

Majors Similar to Physical Sciences

Related Major Annual Graduates
Computer & Information Sciences 220,337
Engineering 200,684
Biological & Biomedical Sciences 162,961
Engineering Technologies 92,549
Mathematics & Statistics 49,748

View All Physical Sciences Related Majors >

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