Chemical Physics Degree Program Information

Chemical physics is a field combining physical chemistry, physics and math. Learn about the undergraduate and graduate degree programs available, as well as employment outlook and salary information.

Essential Information

Chemical physics programs are available as bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree programs. Programs include the study of topics such as electronics, quantum physics, thermodynamics and applied mathematics. They also include lectures, as well as laboratory components. Graduate students are required to complete thesis or dissertation projects and student teaching experiences.

For undergraduate programs, applicants should have a high school diploma with a satisfactory grade point average and acceptable scores on college admissions examinations. Prior college preparatory coursework in physics, chemistry, biology and calculus is also required. Prospective enrollees for both master's and doctorate programs should have a baccalaureate degree in chemistry, physics or chemical physics, an acceptable grade point average and GRE scores to be considered. Those with a solid background in calculus, vector algebra, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and quantum mechanics may be admitted. Some schools require qualifying examinations to verify eligibility. Additionally, most institutions require completion of a comprehensive exam prior to starting the program.

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Physics

A 4- year baccalaureate degree program in chemical physics is offered as an interdisciplinary major at numerous colleges or universities. Students obtain a solid foundation in chemistry and physics through a partnership between departments. Most programs prepare students to pursue graduate studies. In addition to completion of general coursework in humanities, students take a full course load in the biological and materials sciences. Specific topics include:

  • Physics and biology
  • Computing and calculus
  • Physical analysis
  • Electronics
  • Quantum physics and chemistry
  • Modern chemistry and thermochemistry

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Master of Science in Chemical Physics

Master's degree programs take 2 years to complete and include high-level coursework in chemistry and physics. The program is offered as a thesis or non-thesis program. Students choose to focus their studies on developing computational methods or applying chemical physics theory and laboratory techniques to less developed fields, such as material science. Doctoral students who do not complete their training program may be awarded a master's degree.

Coursework prepares students to undertake research in an area of interest to the student. Available research topics at an institution depend on the interests of the faculty and include biophysics, fluid dynamics or atmospheric physics. Master's level students take high-level courses in chemistry and physics, such as:

  • Quantum physics and chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Biophysics
  • Statistical mechanics

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Physics

A doctoral program in chemical physics provides students with the opportunity to study a variety of chemical problems using methods and theories from physics. The study of chemical physics includes the disciplines of engineering, astronomy, physics, chemical biology, and chemistry. Didactic classes include:

  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Applied mathematics
  • Applied physics
  • Engineering science
  • Scientific teaching and communication

Popular Career Options

Graduates with a master's degree in the chemical physics field usually work in applied research or possibly chemical development. Common job titles include:

  • Biophysicist
  • Applied researcher
  • Materials developer

Graduates of doctoral programs in chemical physics generally enter the private sector or remain in academia. Common positions include:

  • Chemical physicist
  • University professor
  • Government researcher
  • Company CEO or executive

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The field of chemical physics is a combination of the disciplines chemistry and physics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jobs for chemists would grow by 3% in the decade 2014-2024 ( Chemists made a median annual salary of $71,260 in 2015.

Bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree programs in chemical physics prepare students for careers as chemists, professors, researchers or executives. Graduates will have mastered concepts in chemistry, math, physics and more.

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