What Can I Do With a Major In Physics?

Marlena Yang WCIDWAMIConnect with:
Marlena Yang
Career Counselor
yang1358@umn.edu
marlenay.appointments.umn.edu
612-624-7577

Major Information

The College of Liberal Arts offers a bachelor of arts (BA) in Physics; it’s administered through the Department of Physics in the College of Science and Engineering, which also offers a bachelor of science (BS). This may be confusing, so here we explain the similarities and differences between the two options.

  • The BA and BS are equally challenging. The major courses are the same for both degrees and students from both take their classes together. The pre-requisite courses to enter the major are the same.
  • Admissions to the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science & Engineering are different; you might get into one college but not the other.
  • The structure of the degrees are slightly different. The BA has more flexibility if you want to pursue multiple interests, allowing space in your degree plan for breadth and depth; the BS degree program offers opportunities to take additional physics and technical courses.
  • The BA degree requires proficiency in a second language.

Consider your own interests and career goals and consult with an advisor when deciding whether to apply to the College of Liberal Arts (for the BA) or College of Science & Engineering (for the BS). Both degrees will prepare you well for your future.

All liberal arts degrees help CLA students develop their Core Career Competencies, and Journalism majors develop specific skills that are applicable to lots of different careers. These skills include:

  • Critical thinking and analyzing skills
  • Information and data management
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Mathematical reasoning
  • Research and analysis skills
  • Written communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively

Interest Code: ISE

Internship & Job Search Websites

Student Groups

Professional Organizations

​Career Options

Below is a small sampling of what alumni with this major have pursued, organized by the most common career fields they go into (although, keep in mind that there are physics alumni in all eight of the career fields).  For more career information for physics majors, utilize these additional resources:

  • What Can I Do With This Major - Find information about common career paths, employers, and strategies for how to build experience in different career fields
  • LinkedIn's Alumni Tool - Explore thousands of alumni career pathways
  • GoldPASS - Explore different job, internship, and volunteer opportunities as well as career events on campus

Note: *Asterisks denote that further education and/or training is often required

Healthcare & Science

Entry-Level

  • Intervention Specialist, Minnesota Math Corps
  • Lab Assistant, University of Minnesota
  • Search Engine Marketing, InsideOut Solutions

Experienced

  • Community Risk Reduction Officer, Minneapolis Fire Department
  • Co-Founder, SpiderSuite
  • Director of Faith Formation, Cathedral of Saint Paul
  • General Counsel, Coloplast*
  • President, Qualvest*
  • Professor of Physics, Penn State University*
  • Sales Engineer, Harland Medical Systems, Inc.
  • Senior Staff Scientist, Nova Research, Inc.
  • Supplier Development Engineer, Polaris Industries*