What is Physics?
Physics is the natural science that studies all facets of the Universe we inhabit. It is concerned with the nature of all things and seeks an understanding of a very wide range of phenomena.
From its relatively modest beginnings during the 17th century Scientific Revolution, Physics has evolved into an overarching and fundamental view of nature which provides an understanding of space and time, the laws of motion, the structure and constituents of matter, their origin, as well the elementary forces that determine their properties.
Physics is interested in phenomena taking place at all scales from the realm of microscopic subatomic particles to the vast and mind-boggling scale of galaxies and cosmic structures. As such, physicists have branched out into many subfields including particle physics, nuclear physics, atomic physics, biophysics, medical physics, condensed matter physics, material sciences, electronics, physical engineering, astrophysics, cosmology, and many more endeavors.
Physicists use mathematics, computers, and the scientific method to study all things and formulate broad and overarching theoretical frameworks that inform our understanding and vision of Nature. These include theories such as the standard model of particle physics which describe with acute precision the structure and properties of matter, as well as the standard model of cosmology that provides us with a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the evolution of our Universe since its beginning, the Big Bang.
Modern physics is also the very basis for all the technologies we now all take for granted in our everyday lives, including electricity and its production, transportation vehicles of all kinds from cars to rockets, as well as computers and all forms of electronics and communication devices.
However, while Physics provides us with powerful and comprehensive views and understanding of Nature, there remain lots of big and fundamental questions about the constituents of matter, the cosmos we inhabit, and the fundamental mechanisms that sustain living cells and multicellular organisms. Physics is not a static field and is continuously branching out into new subfields with fascinating possibilities.
What can I do with a degree in physics?
Physics provides a comprehensive and overarching view of the world around us, inside us, and beyond us. As the most basic and fundamental science, it equips us with a comprehensive and unifying understanding of all things in our Universe ranging from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. It provides us with a framework that enables the development of the technologies we cherish. Additionally, it also stands to become a cornerstone in the solution of the big and difficult problems our planet is now facing, including climate change, accelerating extinction of species and decrease in biodiversity, as well as overpopulation, migrations, and all the political issues they ensue.
Students earning a physics degree gain more than just a degree: they become equipped with a broad and comprehensive understanding of the universe as well as the technologies in use today. As such, graduates benefit from a vast array of career choices ranging from research careers based in academia, governmental institutions as well as corporations; education careers at colleges, universities, high schools, and technical schools; development and use of advanced technologies for startups as well as large corporations; scientific journalisms, and much more. Whether in academia, governments, or corporations, physics graduate may conduct research into new physical phenomena, further develop or invent new scientific theories, or work towards the creation and improvement of technologies. Graduate may also endeavor to become educators or reporters and contribute to the public dissemination of knowledge, or partake in the regulation of human activities based on a sound and comprehensive understanding of physics knowledge and the impact of human activities, particularly technologies, on our local and global environments.
A physics or astronomy degree offers skills in:
- Science, mathematics, and computing
- Deductive and inductive reasoning
- Critical thinking and information processing
- Complex problem solving
- Data analysis and interpretation competences
- Operation of complex technologies, including softwares
- Organizational and planning skills
- Laboratory and research competence to analyze data and solve complex problems
Some careers in physics
Physics Programs Offered at Wayne State
- Bachelor of arts in physics
- Bachelor of arts in astronomy
- Bachelor of science in physics
- Bachelor of science in biomedical physics
- Master of arts in physics
- Master of science in physics
- Doctor of philosophy in physics
- Educator at colleges, universities, and high schools,
- Fundamental research at universities, startup and large corporations, national laboratories, as well as government and military agencies,
- Applied research and developments of technologies,
- Development and analysis of data models for banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions,
- (Big) Data analysis and modeling for corporations,
- Artificial intelligence research and applications,
- Regulations of technologies, products, and their impact on the environment and societies,
- News organizations,
- Law Maker (national or state governments)
- Non-profit organizations promoting the safeguard of the environment and safe use and development of technologies,
- Patent offices
- And much more…
Career field resources
- Latest employment data for physicists, astronomers and related sciences
- More about jobs in sciences
- CBS News: Physics majors finds jobs easily
- Who is hiring physics bachelors?
A bachelors degree in physics or astronomy provides a solid foundation for graduate studies in:
- Astronomy or astrophysics
- Climate studies
- Computer engineering
- Condensed matter physics
- Electronics and electrical engineering
- Forensic Sciences
- Material Sciences
- Medicine and other health professions
- Medical physics
- Nuclear physics
- Nuclear engineering
- Particle physics
- Patent law (Law school)
- And much more
Notable people with a physics major
- James Cameron (filmmaker, director, producer, screenwriter for The Terminator, Titanic, Avatar)
- Marie Curie (research of radioactivity, first woman to receive Nobel Prize)
- Albert Einstein (developed the general theory of relativity and E=mc2)
- Brian May (co-founder, lead guitarist, and singer of rock group, Queen; astrophysicist)
- Elon Musk (founder/CEO of SpaceX, co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.)
- Vera Rubin (studied galaxy rotation rates, provided evidence for the existence of dark matter)
- Carl Sagan (astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science communicator)
- Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator)
- Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany)
- Richard Phillips Feynman (physicist who played an important role on the Presidential Rogers Commission that investigated the Challenger disaster)
- Stephen Hawking (significantly developed the theory of black holes)
- Steven Chu (Energy Secretary under President Obama)
- Bill Foster (US House of Representatives (2012- ))
Physics majors pull in high starting-salaries
Physics graduates receive some of the top starting-salaries after graduating from college. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers of starting salaries offered by campus recruiters shows that students graduating with a bachelor's in physics can make up to $64,000 per year when starting right out of school. More commonly, the survey found that physics graduates can expect a starting salary between $46,000 and $58,000 per year.
This generally exceeds the starting salaries of graduates in most other scientific fields. The mean starting salary for a physicist is higher than that of graduates who majored in chemistry, psychology, or biology. Graduates with physics degrees also tend to outpace other fields outside of the sciences, including those graduating with degrees in marketing, accounting, and even finance.
Physics majors get readily admitted to medical and law schools
Admission to medical schools
Students with a bachelor's degree in physics typically perform very well on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and stand an above than average chance of being admitted into medical schools.
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) has three sections of standardized multiple-choice questions (total of 219 items) with an additional writing sample comprised of two essays. Scores of 9.5 to 11 in each section are considered competitive by most medical schools.
Average MCAT scores by selected majors (2009)
|Discipline (major)||Physical sciences||Biological sciences||Verbal reasoning||Number of applicants|
Note: Admission results vary from year to year but the above statistics are considered representative of the various fields applying for admission at medical schools across the nation.
Admission to law schools
Physics bachelors receive higher scores on the LSAT than other undergraduate majors and are highly regarded by law schools.
|Discipline (major)||Mean score||Number of applicants|
Note: Admission results vary from year to year but the above statistics are considered representative of the various fields applying for admission at law schools across the nation.