Mathematical Physics Degree Program and Career Facts

A degree in mathematical physics explores the intersection of math and physics as they relate to explaining the natural phenomena and characteristics of the Earth. Read further to learn about available degrees and the careers in the field. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Scientists in the field of mathematical physics test, measure, analyze and describe the world's physical attributes and circumstances, along with the relationships between objects through mathematical equations. Students can find mathematical physics degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Degrees Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mathematical Physics or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Physics with a specialization in mathematical physics, Master of Science in Mathematics or Physics, Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics
Courses Statistical physics, nuclear particles, quantum mechanics, statistical and classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, environmental physics, accelerator physics, biophysics and more
Median Salary (2017)* $103,010 (for mathematicians)
$118,830 (for physicists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Careers Are Available?

A degree in the field prepares you to work as a physicist or mathematician. Physicists study objects in the natural world to determine what they are made of and how they interact with other objects. Mathematicians use calculations to explain the relationship between two objects.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 2016-2026, employment of mathematicians is expected to increase 30%, and employment of physicists is expected to experience a 14% increase during the same time period (www.bls.gov).

What Are the Education Requirements?

Mathematicians and physicists typically work in research labs, development firms or government agencies. The BLS reports that most employers require research physicists and mathematicians to have a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. However, some employers hire individuals with a master's degree to work in manufacturing or applied research.

What Undergraduate Degrees Are Offered?

At the undergraduate level, you can earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mathematical Physics or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Physics with a specialization in mathematical physics. B.S. programs include a more extensive study of theory and consist of more physics courses than a B.A. program, which typically focuses on applying physics and math techniques during research. These programs take four years to complete and are not available online.

What Graduate Degrees Can I Find?

Available 2-year graduate degrees include a Master of Science in Mathematics or Physics. Some programs combine bachelor and master's degree studies. Dual degree programs typically take five years to complete. Classes in singular and dual master's degree programs are available online, but entire programs are not.

Graduate degrees also include a Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics. These programs can take 4-5 years to complete and are not offered online.

What Subjects Will I Study?

In a bachelor's degree program, you study thermal and statistical physics and differential equations. Coursework is in the form of lab and lectures, and you also complete a senior research project. Here is a brief list of topics you might study:

  • Nuclear particles
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Electricity
  • Descriptive anatomy
  • Linear algebra

What About Graduate Programs?

Math and physics master's degree programs teach statistical and classical mechanics. You also complete internships and usually have the option to write a thesis or take a comprehensive exam. The following topics might be studied:

  • Electromagnetic theory
  • Computational methods
  • Complex analysis
  • Topology
  • Differential geometry
  • Mathematical physics

In a mathematical physics Ph.D. program, you learn about environmental physics and accelerator physics. In addition to your studies, you may teach undergraduate students, and you also must write a dissertation. These areas of interest might be explored as well:

  • Biophysics
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Functional analysis
  • Integral equations
  • Inverse problems

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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