Physics: An Introduction to Physics Adult Education Programs

Physics education programs for adults are typically designed to meet the complicated schedules and lives of working individuals who wish to continue their studies outside of the traditional college structure.

Essential Information

Rather than being offered as certificate or degree programs, a physics program for adults is commonly offered as a structured group of courses or lab work. They can be organized into post-baccalaureate or independent studies programs, or they might be offered through specific schools within a college that is designed to offer adult coursework. Some programs can even be completed entirely online.

Courses in these programs can vary by level of study, but typically they explore a wide variety of physics subjects. These programs can help students add physics courses to their undergraduate education or to build on an undergraduate degree program to prepare students for study at the graduate level. Some courses might require prerequisites in math, such as algebra, trigonometry and calculus, as well as elementary physics.

Physics: An Introduction to Physics Adult Education

Due to the concentrated nature of these programs, general education or other off-topic courses are not typically included. Possible course topics may include:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism
  • Nuclear physics
  • Relativity
  • Astronomy

Popular Career Options

Because adult education programs in physics can cater to a variety of educational levels, as well as various areas of physics itself, career options could vary significantly from person to person. For instance, with a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate, an individual can become qualified to earn state licensure to teach at the K-12 level in public schools.

Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that career opportunities for high school teachers will increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual salary for high school teachers, according to the BLS as of May 2014, was $57,200. Career opportunities may be available to bachelor's degree holders in research capacities, which could be in a variety of settings, such as:

  • Planetariums
  • Nonprofit or government research labs
  • Medical physics labs
  • Semiconductor labs
  • Computer software development settings

Continuing Education Information

Completing undergraduate courses through an adult education program in physics could help students who are working toward a bachelor's degree or preparing for medical school. Beyond the bachelor's degree level, master's and Ph.D. programs in physics are available. A master's degree program may be available as a standalone option, or it may be designed for transfer directly into the doctoral curriculum. According to the BLS, a Ph.D. is typically required to become a physicist, which is primarily a research-based career. Doctoral program graduates can also find work as professors at the university level.

Adults with busy lives can change course or expand their knowledge by enrolling in physics programs designed for their lifestyle.

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