Field of Study Overview

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.

Required Skills

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.


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.

Job growth varies depending on your specific field and competition in some specialized fields is high. It is common in all specializations for those with previous experience and an advanced degree to have better job opportunities.

Physical Sciences graduates earn average starting and mid-career salaries of $44,248 and $81,821.


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Field at a Glance

  • Yearly Graduations
    (online) 521
    (associate) 1,033
    (bachelor) 33,009
  • Average Starting Salary
  • Average Mid-Career Salary

Explore Top Majors in this Field

Click Major to View Top CollegesPopularitySalary PotentialMajors Matcher
Astronomy & Astrophysics Low N/AN/A
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology Average Poor N/A
Chemistry High Fair N/A
General Physical Sciences Average N/AN/A
Geological & Earth Sciences Average Low N/A
Materials Sciences Low N/AN/A
Physical Sciences (Other) Low N/AN/A
Physics High Good N/A

College Ranking by Field of Study

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Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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