While degree programs specifically in quantum physics aren't available, the subject of quantum physics can be studied through general science or physics education master's degree programs. These degree programs are typically targeted to teachers working at middle and high schools who are seeking professional development, though individuals with a physics-related background who do not yet hold state teaching licensure may also be able to enroll.
Unlicensed prospective students should be aware that these programs may not directly prepare one for licensure; they would need to complete a student teaching practicum through a teacher education program. Licensed teachers may be prepared to earn specialty certification in teaching physics.
These programs are not commonly offered online. Regarding the few available programs, they may offer the curriculum fully online or require students to attend campus for residency components. Some programs may require students to purchase all necessary materials to conduct laboratory experiments on their own. Online students will need a CD drive and Microsoft Office.
Master's Degree in Physics Education
While quantum mechanics are covered in many physics degree programs, both on-campus and online degrees in quantum mechanics are unusual. Online programs for a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Physics Education, or online Master of Arts in Science Education with a focus on physics both discuss quantum mechanics in some courses. These distance-learning programs train currently licensed middle and high school teachers seeking further expertise in physics. Secondary certification in physics instruction can be completed in 2-3 years. Some schools offer these continuing education degree programs entirely online, while others offer some classes online but have residency requirements.
Program Information and Requirements
Some schools have structured lessons and deadlines, while other schools allow students to work entirely at their own pace. Students can pass assessments and progress to new material more quickly using previous experience and knowledge. Students interact with other classmates with online learning communities used for networking, discussion and academic help. Exams for online classes are computerized. For entirely online programs, the school may provide a laboratory kit for completing experiments at home. A capstone project with an oral defense finishes the program. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree. Schools may require an entrance exam.
Personal computers should be equipped with a CD drive. Some classes may require participants to download media viewing programs. Current versions of operating systems and Web browsers are recommended. Microsoft Office is required to complete some assignments.
The program contains courses in other sciences including chemistry and natural sciences. To prepare for physics courses, students take precalculus and calculus. Courses oriented toward education discuss methods of teaching physics, lesson planning and problem solving. Prerequisite courses on physics include mechanical physics, with lessons on energy, momentum, motion, work, equilibriums and fluids.
This course covers historical progress in physics since the 19th century in preparation for current theories and research findings. Topics include relativity, atomic structure, nuclear physics, particle physics, radioactivity, solid state physics and properties of particles and waves. Quantum physics is explained through the ideas of Einstein and de Broglie. Questions in quantum mechanics are explored with Schrödinger's and Bragg's equations, the Stern-Gerlach experiment and the Pauli exclusion principle.
Optics and Waves
This course models the characteristics and behavior of waves, focusing on sound and light. Students gain an understanding of refraction, diffraction, reflection and polarization of light through optical experiments using lenses and other simple laboratory equipment.
Magnetism and Electricity
In this course, students learn about electric fields and electric charges. Topics include resistance, currents and capacitors. Lab practice includes building an electromagnet, which demonstrates electromagnetism and the travel of electromagnetic waves.
Graduates of the online M.A. in Physics Education program are trained to teach physics in middle school or high school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), physicists had a mean annual wage of $118,500 in May 2015. Middle school teachers had a mean annual wage of $58,760 in May 2015. The mean annual wage for secondary school teachers was $60,440 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Like the master's degree, doctoral degrees specifically in quantum physics are unusual, but more general physics fields of study contain education in quantum physics. Following the master's degree, students can earn a Ph.D. in physics, applied physics or physics education. Online physics doctoral programs are unusual but on-campus programs are widely available.
Quantum physics can be studied through online master's programs in physics education, which also cover topics like optics and magnetism. Graduates can work as physicists or in various levels of physics education.