Major Overview

A Physics Major studies the fundamental laws of nature from gravity, to water's boiling point. As you move through your studies, you will be introduced to complex problems and use mathematical equations along with experiments to understand how things work in the natural world. Classes in topics such as mathematics, computer science, electricity and magnetism, modern physics, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics will teach you Physics concepts, such as energy and relativity.

Physics is a large field and can be broken down into multiple areas of specializations. Depending on your college, you may have the option to choose a concentration in Atomic and Molecular Physics, Elementary Particle Physics, Plasma and High-Temperature Physics, Nuclear Physics, Optical Sciences, Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, Acoustics, or Theoretical and Mathematical Physics.

Required Skills

Physics classes involve very advanced mathematical formulas. Students should be prepared to use complex mathematic equations to solve problems and answer questions. Strong critical thinking and analytic skills will allow you to create innovative experiments and ensure necessary accuracy. Since you will be working with others, teamwork and communication skills are also important in this field.

Most Physics jobs require you to have at least a master's degree. Those who are interested in performing advanced research or holding permanent jobs at universities, labs, or government offices will need to earn their Ph.D. While working towards an advanced degree, some students pursue internships or attend summer field camps. This allows them to gain experience in the field and be more competitive in job market after graduation.

Careers

Physicists who pursue an advanced degree are hired in multiple industries including scientific firms, as professors at colleges, or government offices. NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense often hire physicists. Positions as secondary school physics teachers or as research assistants are available for students who obtain their bachelor's degree.

The Physics field is growing faster than other occupations, causing an increase in the amount of jobs available, especially to those with a Doctorate.

Graduates with a degree in Physics earn an average starting salary of $50,803 and mid-career salary of $90,575. Those with advanced degrees are eligible for higher-paying careers.

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Major at a Glance

Top statistics for this major

College Ranking by Major

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Yearly Graduations
 7,358
Average Starting Salary
$50,803
Average Mid-Career Salary
$90,575

Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Physics might open up.

Natural Sciences Managers
Physicists
Physics Teachers, Postsecondary
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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