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Degree Overview: Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Physics

Majors Overview April 3, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in physics and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Physics

The manner in which time and energy affect matter is physics, a natural science where mathematics is often used for quantifying changes in matter. Graduation from a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) sometimes involves specialization in a particular aspect of the field, like biophysics, quantum mechanics, or astrophysics. The history and theoretical foundations of physics research are subjects in B.S. and B.A. programs in Physics, whereby students learn about the changes undergone in theories of matter over time. Students also learn about conducting physics research and analyzing the results. Significant time is spent applying science and mathematics knowledge to the analysis of issues with time, space, matter, and energy. Research in physics finds relevance in the nature of time, space travel, energy conservation, and movement.

Education Requirements

Incoming students to physics bachelor’s degree programs are required to have exceptionally strong skills in analytical thinking, mathematics, and the physical sciences. Students can prepare for college-level physics coursework by completing Advanced Placement (AP) courses in calculus, algebra, and physics.

Coursework

Coursework includes topic areas such as the natural sciences, scientific research methodology, statistics, and mathematics. Given the wide applicability of research in physics to many fields, coursework is often interdisciplinary. Students also complete hands-on laboratory experiments. Core coursework may cover subject areas such as the following:

•Analytical mechanics
•Theoretical physics
•Quantum physics
•Physics of vibrations
•History of physics
•Thermal physics
•Astrophysics
•Contemporary issues in physics
•Physics in technology
•Energy physics

Job and Wage Outlook

Completion of a B.S. or B.A. Physics program will enable the student to pursue careers in and out of scientific disciplines. Many graduates seek teaching jobs, while others may opt for careers in consulting, law, or business. Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, job growth rates of seven percent have been predicted for secondary teachers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2014, these workers brought home an average annual wage of $59,330.

Continuing Education Choices

A doctorate in physics or a master’s degree is a requirement for many advanced academic, consulting, and teaching positions. These programs usually offer more specializations than undergraduate physics degree programs, and enrolled students are usually required to complete a dissertation or thesis before they graduate.

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