Online Physics Degree Program Options

Online physics degree programs are rare. Learn about online degree programs with physics courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physicists typically hold a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Those who hold a bachelor's degree may teach science in middle or high schools, and master's degree holders may be able to teach physics at the postsecondary level.

Online bachelor's and master's degree programs in physics are rare to nonexistent, and aspiring physics teachers may want to consider on-campus programs as an alternative. Additionally, most online teaching programs will require students to complete field experiences; however, these may be scheduled in a school close to their home. Many physics education programs require laboratory courses to be done on campus and student teaching in a secondary school.

Bachelor's Degree in Physics Education

Bachelor of Arts programs in physics education, which prepare aspiring physics teachers to work with middle and high school students, are geared toward individuals with a passion for science. Those with substitute teaching experience and a strong desire to teach are also appropriate applicants to online physics education programs.

Program Information and Requirements

Online physics education bachelor's programs take about four years to complete, though students who have an associate's degree or other credits that transfer might be able to finish in less time. While most requirements can be completed online, students must spend some time student teaching at a middle or high school near their home.

Students enrolled in online physics teaching degree programs often participate in discussions through Web-based platforms. Assignments typically are submitted via e-mail, and the school might provide mentoring and learning support.

Common Online Bachelor's Degree in Physics Education Courses

Students in an online physics education degree program take courses in both physics and education. Depending on the program, an at-home lab kit might be offered through the school, allowing students to perform physics experiments.

Mechanics of Physics

A mechanics of physics course introduces students to topics in the study of motion. Newton's laws, gravitation, momentum and oscillation are covered.

Electricity and Magnetism

A course covering electricity and magnetism teaches students about electric currents and magnetic fields. Topics covered include electromagnetic waves, Maxwell's equation, electric charges and electric fields.

Human Development

Online human development students explore the processes of childhood maturation. The phases of development are covered, and students discuss education theory and learning processes.

Career Information for Graduates

According to the BLS, middle school teachers could expect job growth of 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024. High school teachers could expect the same growth of 6% as middle school teachers ( As of May 2015, middle school teachers had a median annual salary of $55,860, while secondary school teachers earned a median salary of $57,200, based on BLS figures.

Licensure and Certification Information

Before securing a job with a public school system, aspiring physics teachers must earn state licensure. Requirements vary but typically include graduation from an accredited teaching program, student teaching experience and passage of general knowledge and physics-specific Praxis exams.

Additionally, teachers can earn voluntary professional certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The credentialing process involves 10 assessments, including portfolio work and written responses. National certification could help a teacher earn more or move into a higher-level position, according to the BLS.

Master's Degree Program in Physics Education

Online Master of Art in Physics Education programs are designed for current middle or high school physics teachers who wish to add to their credentials. These programs also might prepare physics teachers to advance to community college-level teaching positions.

Program Information and Requirements

Distance education master's candidates in physics education often take courses via the Internet during the school year and campus-based courses during the summer. Most students take less than three years to complete such a program.

Common Online Courses in a Master's in Physics Education Degree Program

While not all master's-level physics education courses can be taken online, students typically are able to complete much of their degree through distance learning. Online physics courses generally don't require any laboratory work.

Modern Physics

This physics course covers modern discoveries in the field. Students learn about relativity, quantum mechanics and atomic structure.

Physics Concepts

Students learn how common objects function under the laws of physics. The course examines electricity, light waves, magnetism, nuclear energy and other physics-related concepts.

Teaching Physics

Open to experienced physics teachers, this course discusses current educational research related to physics instruction. Students learn methods of teaching physics to middle and high school students.

Career Information for Graduates

The BLS reports that earning a master's degree can help physics teachers move into higher positions in the school system and could increase a teacher's salary. On the postsecondary level, physics teachers earned a median salary of $82,840 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

While there are currently no online bachelor's or master's programs available for people pursuing a physics degree, there are several programs available for those interested in teaching physics in middle or high school settings; both programs require on-campus lab courses and student teaching. The bachelor's program typically takes 2 to 4 years (depending on whether you already have your associates) and the master's program is another 2 years after that.

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