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Getting a Physics Degree as a Veteran or Military

Getting a Degree in Physics

Physics Degrees for Military and Veterans

Physics is a branch of science that deals with the structure of matter and interactions of the observable universe. Physics is the science of matter, motion, and energy. 

Most people who study physics will get at least a bachelor’s degree however, there are options for getting an associate’s degree in physics. You can also keep going through and earn your master’s degree in physics as well as a doctorate in physics, depending on your career goals. 

Associate’s Degree in Physics

If you want to go for your associate’s degree in physics, you can do so at many community colleges. You can use this degree to prepare you for going on to get your bachelor’s degree or you can find a job as a research assistant or be on a design team. Going to get your associate’s degree should take you around two years. 

Bachelor’s Degree in Physics

Getting your bachelor’s degree in physics opens up opportunities and will provide a foundation for advanced education. Many of your classes will include lab work and lectures. You would probably end up taking classes such as computer science, mechanics, and mathematical physics. A bachelor’s degree should take you around four years. 

When going to get your bachelor’s degree in physics, you can either get a bachelor’s in science in physics, or a bachelor’s of arts in physics. The difference is that the BS in physics is the more classic route, and the BA in physics will offer a more parallel course of study in the humanities. This would be helpful if you plan to go into fields such as health care or information technology. 

When looking for programs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Arizona have all been rated as some of the best colleges for veterans according to College Factual. For online programs, Michigan Tech, Arizona State University, and Texas State University are all highly rated. 

Jobs you can get with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics

  • Application Engineers, who are responsible for designing, developing, and implementing programs and applications, have an average salary of $76,540, according to Payscale
  • Lab Technicians, who identify and work with physics and astronomy lab equipment, supplies, and materials, have an average salary of $54,180, according to BLS.
  • High School Physics Teachers, who instruct students how to understand the properties and behavior of matter, motion, and energy, have an average salary of $62,870, according to BLS.

Master’s Degree in Physics

Going to get your master’s degree in physics can pave the way to many more opportunities. A master’s degree should take between 1-2 years, depending on if you go full or part-time. You would need to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related subject. You might take classes such as thermal physics, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. 

For online programs, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Rice University are all highly rated. For in-person programs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the California Institute of Technology are all highly rated. 

Jobs you can get with a Master’s Degree in Physics

  • Medical Physicists, who are responsible for ensuring the safety and efficient delivery of radiation to patients, have an average salary of $149,810, according to Payscale.
  • Aerospace Engineers, who utilize their knowledge of physics, thermodynamics, aerodynamics, and more, have an average salary of $84,892, according to Payscale.
  • Hydrologists, who work in the field collecting samples as part of their work in water properties, have an average salary of $59,297 according to Payscale.

Doctorate Degree in Physics

Getting a doctorate or Ph.D. in Physics will give you a better chance of securing a higher-paying job after graduation. A Ph.D. should take you around five years depending on the program and would include a lot of research. You might take courses in atomic physics, kinetic theory, or nuclear physics. The University of Arizona, Ohio State University, and the University of California at Berkeley all have highly rated programs. 

Jobs you can get with a Doctorate in Physics

  • Astronomers, who are scientists in the field of astronomy that observe the stars, planets, and all things outside the scope of earth, have an average salary of $128,950, according to BLS.
  • Physics Professors, who both teach courses on the laws of matter and energy and do research, have an average salary of $97,436, according to Payscale.

Related Majors: 

  • Astronomy
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry

Getting your degree in Physics means you can apply for certain scholarships just for physics or similar majors. Here are a couple of them:

SMART Scholarship Program

The SMART Scholarship Program, Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, is there to help enhance the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce with talented, innovative, and brilliant scientists, engineers, and researchers. Students will receive full tuition, monthly stipends, health insurance, book allowances, as well as summer internships from 8-12 weeks. After they get a degree, scholars begin working in a civilian position with their sponsoring facility. They must be pursuing a technical degree in one of the 21 STEM disciplines listed on the website. The number of scholarships varies. For more info, please go here.

Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship

This scholarship from Lockheed Martin is for high school seniors or current freshmen or sophomores in college. They must be going to school full-time at an accredited 4-year college or university, majoring in different fields of engineering, including electrical, as well as computer science, math, physics, and information systems. Students will also need to demonstrate financial need. Those who have demonstrated leadership capabilities, those at a Lockheed Martin partner institution, and those who have a compelling personal story, or family circumstances such as being a member of a military family may have preference. The award is $10,000. For more info, please go here.

 

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About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.