Seeking a degree in physics can mean that you are on the cutting edge of the very latest in technology and research. Physics is the study of matter and energy and how the two interact. Physicists often work in pure research and ponder big questions like the origin of the universe, the decay of the universe, and the building blocks of matter. However, physicists do much more than just research. Physics can be applied to a myriad of other scientific fields like medicine, astronomy, engineering, architecture, computer science, and even weather. Because the impact of what physicists do is so far-reaching, many of the world’s most important scientific projects have physics at their core. Consequently, physics departments at top colleges and universities are often heavily funded because the research that they do is so critical.
The field of physics is very hands-on and requires many specialized tools including lasers, cyclotrons, telescopes and spectrometers, just to name a few. In fact, many universities house their own machine shops to build and maintain their equipment. Most schools also have multiple laboratories on campus, or share labs with other facilities or other departments for their students to conduct multidisciplinary research.
Those studying to be physicists will be required to have a fairly firm grasp of mathematics, as there are many mathematical principles and equations used in physics. Physicists also increasingly use computers and programming languages to model processes that they see occurring in nature. Without the use of computers, physicists would not be able to predict the outcomes of scenarios they are working through, so at least some computer programming is required.
Many physicists who work in research or academia hold a doctoral degree, but entry-level positions with the federal government typically only require a bachelor’s degree. If you are considering a degree in physics, your career choices are boundless. You may have a career in:
Many physicists also specialize in a sub-field of physics like nuclear physics, atomic or molecular physics, optics, or even interdisciplinary fields like biophysics, chemical physics, or geophysics.