Majoring in Physics: Tuition, Requirements and Universities


If you’re interested in majoring in physics, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost: take a lot of math and science classes. Physics majors often use calculusPhysics majors are in high demand, both in and out of academia.

You might be surprised to know that there are many different types of jobs for physics majors outside of the laboratory. For example, a physics major can:

  • Work in R&D as a physicist or engineer at companies like Apple and Amazon
  • Serve as an assistant professor at a university teaching introductory physics classes while conducting research on her own time
  • Work for the government as a civilian scientist or engineer specializing in defense projects such as missile defense systems, satellite technology, and other classified projects


What job can I get with a physics degree?

A physics degree can get you a job in many different fields. Because of their broad knowledge base and technical skills, physics majors are sought after by employers across a wide range of industries and organizations.

In the government, military and education sectors, physicists may be employed as:

  • Researchers working on projects related to nuclear energy or national defense;
  • Engineers who design aeronautical equipment;
  • Teachers who teach science at elementary school level through college level;

And more!

How do I become a physics major?

If you’re interested in majoring in physics, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost: take a lot of math and science classes. Physics majors often use calculus, differential equations, linear algebra and statistics in their work. These classes can help prepare you for classes that will be required as part of your degree program. As well as those required courses, taking electives like quantum mechanics or optics will provide greater insight into the theories behind how things work on a deeper level than introductory courses do.

To learn more about what it takes to become a physics major at UC Berkeley (and how we stack up against other schools), check out our infographic below!

What is the median starting salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in physics?

If you’re wondering what kind of salary to expect after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics, the answer is $61,000. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), that’s how much students with bachelor’s degrees in physics can expect to earn as an entry-level salary on average.

The median starting salaries for chemistry majors are also around $60,000; math majors make about $60,000; computer science majors take home about $60,000; and engineering graduates rake in around $62,000.

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Physics majors are needed in all industries and can make very good money.

It’s a good idea to think about the long-term future after you graduate. You may be tempted to think about what career path will make you the most money or give you the best benefits, but it can be difficult for students to understand what is going on in their field at any given time. For example, when I was still in high school, I was told that companies were looking for physics majors because there were not many graduates available to fill these roles. Nowadays, this isn’t true anymore; however we still need people with bachelor degrees in physics so they can work on research projects or teach at universities.

You should consider making an investment into your education by learning more than just one thing during college (or even high school). In my experience: if someone has a double major then they’re usually interested in multiple fields related to those two areas which means they could probably find something interesting no matter where they go after graduation!

Universities offering Physics in the USA

University of Michigan

  • University of Michigan
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • Bachelor of Science in Physics (BS) or Bachelor of Arts in Physics (BA)
  • Master of Science in Physics (MS)
  • Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD)

Harvard University

Harvard is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Founded in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, minister John Harvard of Charlestown, Massachusetts (a member of the Great and General Court), Harvard is America’s oldest institution of higher learning. It was originally called “New College” after its location in Newtowne (now Newtowne Square) but later renamed “Harvard College.” The school moved to its current location on the Charles River so that students would have greater access to Boston’s libraries and printing facilities.

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Harvard offers undergraduate degrees as well as one-year graduate programs leading to master’s degrees. It also offers PhDs across all disciplines except architecture and law; most students complete their graduate work at Harvard instead of another institution because it has one of the best academic reputations worldwide. In addition to academics, students can enjoy many extracurricular activities such as sports teams (including varsity football), theater troupes and choirs; there are even co-ed dormitories where men live with women!

California Institute of Technology

At the California Institute of Technology, you can pursue a degree in physics. You can choose to major in Physics with Mathematics and Astronomy, or you can combine your love for physics with another subject by adding Astrophysics to your program.

University of Washington

The University of Washington is located in Seattle, Washington. It has a diverse population of over 47,000 students and offers over 200 undergraduate majors. There are 10 departments within the College of Arts and Sciences that offer a variety of courses ranging from physics to astronomy to computer science, as well as an array of minors and certificates.

Cornell University

Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, is a private Ivy League research university. Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White.

Cornell is a large, primarily residential research university with a majority of enrollments in undergraduate and graduate programs.

Ohio State University

Ohio State University is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to offering over 200 majors in the liberal arts and sciences, OSU also has a physics department ranked among the top 20 in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The department’s faculty consists of 200 professors who have helped it develop its strong research program and make other contributions to our understanding of the universe around us.

Columbia University

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia enrolled its first students in 1754 and is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country’s nine Colonial Colleges. It has been ranked among top 10 universities globally when considered for its international focus on research.[1]

In addition to being recognized as one of America’s most esteemed research institutions,[2] Columbia has also topped numerous rankings across many fields including academics,[3][4][5][6] admission selectivity,[7] student experience[8], faculty resources[9][10], financial aid awards[11], graduation rates[12][13] and endowment value.[14]

Brown University

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.

Brown University has an enrollment of approximately 6,000 undergraduate and 914 graduate students (throughout its eight academic units). The institution offers bachelor’s degrees through five academic divisions: Arts and Sciences; Engineering; Medicine; Nursing; and Pharmacy.

Brandeis University

Brandeis University is a private research university in Waltham, Massachusetts, 9 miles west of Boston. Founded in 1948 as a non-sectarian, coeducational institution sponsored by the Jewish community, Brandeis was established on the site of the former Middlesex University. The university is named after Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939 and championed free speech rights during his tenure there. It is ranked as one of the top national universities in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges

2018: National Universities Rankings” list at #23 overall; it also earns high marks for its individual graduate program rankings—including #1 for law and business administration and #3 for education.[1]

Duke University

Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and provided funding for the initial campus construction. At time, it was the largest private foundation in the United States with $40 million in stock funds at its disposal.[7] Undergraduate students are classified as “North Carolina residents”, while graduate students are classified as “out-of-state”.[8][9

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How to Major in Physics

Meet with your advisor.

Meet with your advisor at least once a semester. Your advisor is there to help you succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask them any questions that might be on your mind. Your advisor should know what classes are required and which ones will give you the most bang for your buck, as well as how many courses you need to take each semester. Make sure they know about any extenuating circumstances (like learning disabilities) that may impact how quickly or slowly you learn material in class.

Your advisor may also have some advice for making the most out of each class:

  • Meet with them before the first lab session so they can help familiarize you with all the equipment and safety precautions involved in completing lab experiments, especially if it’s something outside of your comfort zone like chemistry or physics labs where things can get messy fast! If a certain type of equipment is going to be used frequently throughout an entire course sequence then talk about getting started early—this way when it comes time for actual lab work later down the road there won’t be any surprises!
  • There are usually different options available depending on whether students want more hands-on experience versus deeper theoretical knowledge along with math skills such as trigonometry/trig functions etcetera… these choices aren’t mutually exclusive either! If one type doesn’t appeal but another sounds cool then go ahead and sign up anyway – we’re here after all :)!”

Choose your classes carefully.

Majoring in physics means you’ll learn a lot of math, which can be intimidating. But if you’re excited about what you’re studying, it won’t feel like work!

In your first year of college, you’ll probably take classes called “physics” or “general physics.” These are the most general and introductory courses that will help you get your feet wet with all areas of the subject before diving into more specialized topics later on.

Look for classes that interest you—for example, if space travel is fascinating to you but engineering isn’t quite as much so (or vice versa), then try to find some specialized classes related to those interests that might satisfy both sets of needs. In addition to taking interesting classes from our suggested list below, there’s nothing wrong with exploring other offerings across departments—we’ve found that many students’ favorite courses aren’t even offered by any specific department at their school!

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Expect harder math than calculus.

A math major who wants to go on to become a physicist will probably have to take some advanced classes in calculus, which is the sort of math that most physics students study. Calculus teaches you how to wrangle with abstract concepts like limits and integrals. You’ll also likely want to learn linear algebra, which teaches you how to manipulate vectors and matrices in two-dimensional or three-dimensional space.

Beyond these technical skills, there are also plenty of other types of math that will help you understand physics better as well as give your career more flexibility after graduating: probability theory is useful for understanding random processes; statistics helps us figure out if observations are significant; differential equations are used when dealing with changes over time; topology deals with shapes and spaces; number theory explores properties shared by numbers; graph theory provides a way for representing networks like social networks or web sites without any previous knowledge about their structure beforehand (like when figuring out where certain links might lead from one page).

Work on building a strong foundation in math and physics along the way.

  • The cornerstone of physics is math. You’ll need to be able to apply basic math skills like calculus and trigonometry, along with more advanced skills like linear algebra and differential equations.
  • You should also try to build a strong foundation in physics before you start college. Physics classes are typically taught by professors with backgrounds in research, so there’s no guarantee that your instructor will be able to fully explain concepts like force or momentum using language that makes sense to someone who doesn’t have a scientific background.
  • By taking high school physics courses as early as possible (ideally during your freshman year of high school), you’ll get an idea of what types of questions tend to come up on tests and how those questions are phrased—which will make it easier for you when studying for the SAT or ACT exam later on down the road!
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Take advantage of resources and get help when you need it.

Don’t get discouraged if you struggle with something. If you find yourself needing more help, don’t be afraid to ask for it! The best way to learn is by asking questions, and there are a lot of people who are willing to help.

  • Ask your peers: You may know someone who has done well in this class and could help give you some tips and tricks on how they managed their workload.
  • Ask your professors: Your professors have seen thousands of students take this class before you; they’ve heard all the questions before (and probably asked them themselves when they were teaching). So be sure not only to ask them specific questions about assignments but also general ones about the material itself—they’ll be happy to share their experiences with younger students like yourself!
  • Ask your TA: While TAs aren’t required by most colleges or universities, many physics departments choose to employ them anyway because they’re great resources for struggling students since TAs often have experience in both research fields as well as teaching methods that can help make learning easier for those struggling with concepts like quantum theory or Newtonian mechanics which require more abstract thinking skillsets than classical mechanics does (since Classical Mechanics is based more heavily on experiments performed over centuries ago).

Try to get involved with research as early as possible.

Research is a great way to get a head start on your career. If you want to be the next Albert Einstein, then you’ll need to know how to do research early on. While it’s true that not all professors require their students to publish papers before graduating, many peer-reviewed journals will accept them—and if they’re good enough, they may even get published!

Additionally, this kind of experience can help you secure higher paying jobs or land coveted positions at top firms and institutions when it comes time for you to enter the workforce.

Research experience can also help increase your chances of getting into graduate school. Graduate programs often look favorably upon applicants who have had some sort of research experience during their undergraduate studies because it shows that they are motivated enough and interested in pursuing an advanced degree in their field of choice (which makes sense). That said, there’s certainly no guarantee that these applications will be accepted later down the line; however there are still plenty of other ways for aspiring physicists out there — such as working hard towards achieving high grades throughout high school as well as maintaining good relationships with professors throughout college — who may still find ways around entering graduate school despite lacking any previous background knowledge within this field whatsoever.”

Consider a double major or minor that complements your interest in physics.

If you love physics, consider double majoring in it. A double major is a combination of two different majors, which means that it’ll take longer to graduate and cost more money than just one major would. But if you have the time and the cash, there are some great reasons to do this:

  • It demonstrates your commitment to your interest in physics. Double-majors show that you care enough about something to spend two years studying it intensely. This can be extremely helpful when finding funding for graduate school or getting hired after graduation.
  • It gives you more options when applying for jobs after graduation because employers know how versatile you are as an employee (and they like hiring people who can handle multiple tasks).

Make use of the resources available for an easier time getting through physics courses

If you are having trouble with a class, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will find there are tutors available at the library and academic support centers, as well as other students who are in the same situation as you and can offer assistance. There is also online resources, like Khan Academy, which can help you learn about physics topics or study for tests and quizzes. The professor may even be willing to meet with you one-on-one if needed!

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