Getting Your Master’s Degree in Physics
Master’s Degree in Physics
Physics is a natural science that studies matter, its motion, and its behavior through space and time. Physics also focuses on energy and force. Its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves and is also one of the oldest academic disciplines.
The overall job outlook for physicists and astronomers according to BLS is projected to grow 7% from 2019-2029, which is faster than average.
Online or In-person Master’s in Physics
When it comes to getting your master’s degree in physics, you can find an in-person program or an online program. The benefits of an online program may appeal to working professionals or those looking for a career transition. In-person programs may appeal more to those coming from undergraduate programs or those who simply want that in-person experience.
A Master’s in Physics
Going to get your master’s in physics is a smart idea if you would like to pursue this field. Having a master’s degree can be a stepping stone to going on to get your Ph.D. or can give you an advantage when looking for a career after you graduate.
There are also many different options when it comes to physics, from research work to teaching high school students about science. When you go to get your master’s in physics you would study advanced topics in the field of physics, preparing you for a successful career ahead.
Concentrations in Physics
Different concentrations will have different types of coursework. Here are some concentrations that you might find in a master’s of physics program:
Students will study the universe and its celestial bodies.
Students will study objects that are measured on the nanometer scale, such as atoms and molecules.
Students study the use of physics to describe the physical properties of materials.
Students study how to apply the methods of physics to the health care setting.
Students study renewable sources of energy and find ways to minimize consumption.
Classes in Physics
The classes you take in a master’s of physics program will depend on your concentration. Here are a few examples of classes you might take while getting your master’s degree.
- Quantum Physics – this class covers the experimental basis of quantum physics.
- Mathematical Methods in Physics – this class teaches topics such as linear algebra, vector analysis, and introduction to ordinary differential equations.
- Electrodynamics – this class teaches about the effects arising from the interactions of electric currents with magnets with other currents or with themselves.
Admission requirements differ based on the school and program, however, most will require students to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, to complete an application essay, and submit letters of recommendation. Students most likely will need to have a bachelor’s degree in physics or another similar field.
Some schools might also require professional experience, but even if the school doesn’t, it can help to have that work experience to put on the application. Schools usually also want students to have a 3.0 GPA or higher.
How to Choose a Program
There are many different factors when choosing the right physics master’s program. Students should look at the length of each program, the course format, available concentrations, and final project requirements. Most programs are two years long, but students might also be able to find an accelerated program and be done in a year. It also might depend on if the student goes full or part-time. Students should also consider the curriculum and the cost.
Accreditation status for each program can also make a difference and can affect future career opportunities. Departments often receive accreditation from field-specific accrediting bodies. Accreditation will indicate that the program meets set standards of quality for the profession.
Top Master’s in Physics Programs
There are many different master’s in physics programs, some are in-person, and some are online.
Here are 10 of the top master’s in physics programs:
- The University of California at Berkeley
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- The University of Wisconsin at Madison
- University of Maryland at College Park
- The University Washington – Seattle Campus
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Michigan State University
- The California Institute of Technology
- Indiana University at Bloomington
Top Online Master’s in Physics Programs
Here are 10 of the top online master’s in physics programs:
- The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Rice University
- The University of Southern California
- North Carolina State
- Princeton University
- Columbia Video Network – The Fu Foundation
- Stanford University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Christopher Newport University
Jobs With a Master’s Degree in Physics
Annual Median Pay: $89,206
Materials Scientists study and analyze the chemical properties and structure of different man-made and natural materials.
High School or Community College Physics Teacher
Annual Median Pay: $55.559
High School or Community College Physics Teachers teach high school or community college students about the field of physics.
Annual Median Pay: $84,978
Aerospace Engineers are involved primarily in designing aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.
Annual Median Pay: $115,857
Astronomers study how matter, as well as energy, interact and how that applies to the universe, solar systems, planets, and other parts of space.
Annual Median Pay: $97,322
Physicists do research that uses physics to study how matter and energy interact.
Scholarships for Students Getting a Master’s in Physics
Here are a few scholarships for those getting their master’s in physics or a similar major. You can also find other scholarships using the College Recon Scholarship Finder.
Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship
The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship allows eligible veterans and dependents in high-demand fields to extend their Post-9/11 GI Bill or Fry Scholarship benefits. Students will need to have at least one of these: be currently enrolled in an undergraduate STEM degree program or qualifying dual-degree program, or have earned a post-secondary degree or graduate degree in an approved STEM degree field and are enrolled in a covered clinical training program for healthcare professionals, or have earned a post-secondary degree in an approved STEM degree field and are working toward a teaching certification. The award can be used for certain undergraduate programs, including physical science.
The SEG scholarship is for high school seniors, undergraduates, or graduate students who have above-average grades. Students will also need to be pursuing a college curriculum directed toward a career in applied geophysics. The awards vary between $500-$10,000 with the average being about $4,500.
Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund (SPGSF)
This scholarship is open to graduate students who are enrolled members of a federally recognized American Indian tribe, Alaska Native group, a state-recognized tribe in the US, or those who can provide documentation of ancestry to possession of one-fourth degree Indian blood of a state or federally recognized tribe in Arizona or New Mexico.
You will need to be working on a master’s or doctorate degree as a full-time degree-seeking student at an accredited graduate school in the US. Exclusive consideration is paid to degree candidates in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
The scholarship amount is a max of $30,000 each. The actual amounts and number of awards will be determined based on the number of funded students at each academic level.
The Sigma Xi Grants in Aid of Research (GIAR) Program
These grants provide undergraduate and graduate students up to $1,000 to students from most areas of sciences and engineering. Designated funds from the National Academy of Sciences allow for grants up to $5,000 for astronomy research and $2,500 for vision-related research. Students can use the money for travel to and from a research site or for the purchase of non-standard laboratory equipment necessary to complete a specific research project.
$2,000 PixelPlex Bi-annual STEM Scholarship
This scholarship was established to help support and inspire students and to help them pursue further education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, which are STEM subjects, as well as economics and business. There will be one winner, and the award will be in the amount of $2,000.
Physics Related Majors
- Geological and Earth Science
- Materials Science
- Scholarships for Physics
- Getting a Physics Degree as a Veteran or Military
- Veteran Friendly Engineering Programs
- 12 Scholarships for Women in STEM
About the author
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.