Career planning information

A degree in physics is a gateway to many career opportunities. Everyone knows that a physics major can pursue a career as a scientist. However, there are many other opportunities for our graduates. Physics is sometimes described as the ultimate liberal arts degree, in that it develops analytical and critical skills, team work, quantitative reasoning, and the ability to communicate clearly and precisely.

These are skills that are valued by all employers. Only about a third of one per cent of college graduates achieve a degree in physics. Such a degree signals to potential employers that you are an exceptional person capable of enhancing their company.

While most physics majors pursue graduate study, those who do enter the job market earn salaries that are among the highest of all majors.


Starting salary by career:


Starting salary(1999)

% of graduates (1998)




Civilian government



High School teaching



Active Military



College or university



Source: American Institute of Physics

Physics majors who go on to graduate school in physics nearly always find that their graduate education is completely paid for, including a stipend to cover living expenses. Only 4% of graduate students in physics pay for their own education.

Financial support of students entering graduate school:

Many physics majors choose graduate study in other disciplines. Engineering graduate programs welcome physics majors. Law and medical schools are eager to enroll physics majors, as they appreciate the analytical skills that our students bring.

For more on career choices and planning, visit

Department of Physics home page