Dr. Nathan Moore in the lab with students.

Why Major in Physics?

So, you are thinking about majoring in physics. That’s great!  Here is some information to help you make your decision.

Is physics right for me?

Physics might be for you if you answer yes to any of the following questions:

  1. Am I interested in discovering how things work?
  2. Am I more interested in discovering how the same idea can explain a variety of different devices or problems rather than just a single one?
  3. Am I more interested in finding quantitative explanations rather than being satisfied with generalities?

Why would I want to major in physics?

Physics is sometimes referred to as the "liberal arts" degree of technology, or the “Swiss Army Knife” degree, because physics majors acquire a valuable set of skills that allow them to go on to careers in the biology, chemistry, geoscience, mathematics, engineering, and computer science as well as other unrelated fields such as law, medicine, and even economics. In short, a major in physics is a way to keep your options open.

An undergraduate degree in physics tells prospective employers this person has what it takes to succeed. The physics major learns to start with an ill-posed problem, formulate it quantitatively, solve it, and communicate the results clearly. Please see the Society of Physics Student's Career Toolbox for more information as well as a list of job titles that physics graduates obtain.

Graduates who hold Physics degrees earn some of the highest salaries in the field of mathematics and sciences.  See AIP's statistics website

See the APS (American Physical Society) & AIP's (American Institute of Physics) career services web page . To see the types of employers, by state, that employ physicists, see the AIP's employment trends. For current employment opportunities, please see the AIP's job website

The physicist's approach to problem solving is to first understand the problem and the concepts. This allows a more efficient solution than the "quick-fix".
The physics department graduates about 5 - 10 majors each year, which means that there are only 5 - 10 students in each physics majors course. This means more attention for you.
Physics majors have a reputation for solid mathematical skills, strong problem solving ability, and good work ethic. It is these fundamental skills that allow them to work successfully in so many different areas.
Physics truly is one of the most exciting and interesting subjects one can study. Discoveries from physics have revolutionized the world and will certainly continue to do so. Between the innermost workings of the nucleus and the outer edges of the visible universe lies the playground of physics. Combining imagination with systematic reasoning, the physicist seeks to understand the laws of nature, the structure of matter and the behavior of physical processes — the keys to many of the universe's secrets. The area of physics cover such intriguing topics as lasers, superconductors, black holes, quantum mechanics, big bang theory, relativity, and the list goes on and on. It also covers more basic but still fascinating topics such as why the sky is blue, why sunsets are red, and why ice floats. In short, physicists are explorers trying to understand the world around them.
With a society that is heavily dependent on technology and science, physics majors are needed. See the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century and read the Executive Report.

Career Paths in Physics