Overview: Studying Quantum Physics in Physics Degree Programs
Presently, there are no degrees available specifically in the field of quantum physics, which is the study of quantities of energy called quanta. However, students can study quantum physics as part of physics programs at the undergraduate level. These physics degree programs can be found at colleges and universities throughout the country.
The field of quantum physics combines advanced math and science concepts in various areas of the broader science of physics. Coursework will supply physics students with basic theoretical knowledge at the undergraduate level, as well as some background in particle, nuclear and computational physics. Below is information about some of the required common coursework and admission requirements, along with what career fields might be a good fit after completing this degree.
Admissions Requirements for a Physics Degree
Incoming freshmen looking to apply to a college to earn a physics degree will need to have their high school diploma or GED. Applicants will also typically need to turn in their ACT or SAT scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation. Before declaring a major in physics, college students are often required to successfully complete prerequisite courses. This may include coursework in general physics, algebra and calculus.
Quantum Physics Coursework
A physics program will include a number of advanced math and science courses, along with the university's general education requirements. Here are a few common courses that those majoring in physics can expect to come across:
Physics degree programs tend to include a course in modern physics. Students may learn about key scientists and events involved in the progression from classical to modern physics. In addition to quantum theory, course topics can include special relativity, atomic spectra and molecular structure. Nuclear physics and solid state physics may also be introduced.
Like most introductory courses, these will include information about the four laws of thermodynamics. These classes are typically for future engineers and scientists and cover topics such as introductory mechanics, energy and momentum and vector algebra. The statistical side of the classes will include study in equilibrium mechanics and ensemble theory, as well as how thermodynamics applies to systems of transport, irreversibility and interest.
Quantum Physics and Mechanics
Quantum physics and quantum mechanics aren't technically the same thing, but some schools use these titles interchangeably for courses covering the ins and outs of quantum theory. Students will study key concepts involving wave mechanics, atomic spectra and the Schrodinger wave equation. The course also covers the uncertainty principle, exclusion principle and perturbation theory. Students can expect to study quantum statistics and explore the applications of quantum theory to various areas within the field of physics.
Students studying electromagnetism will need to make use of vector algebra and vector calculus. This course will stress energy potential, magnetic fields, conductors, reflection, refraction, dielectrics and more. Students will also learn about AC/DC circuit theory as well as key concepts pertaining to Gauss's law, Poisson's equation, Maxwell's equations and Laplace's equations. The special theory of relativity may also be addressed.
This course requires students to understand theories and concepts involving statistical mechanics and thermal physics. Students will learn about the Bose-Einstein, Boltzmann and Fermi-Dirac distributions as well as their applications. The course will also cover the laws of thermodynamics, kinetic theory and more.
How to Choose a Degree Program with Quantum Physics
Throughout the country, many schools offer physics degree programs that include quantum physics coursework. When choosing a program, students may wish to check out programs that offer specialization areas of study. For instance, some institutions may offer concentrated study in astrophysics, energy, biological physics or even philosophy. Prospective students might also look into those schools that offer advanced degrees in physics if they plan on pursuing graduate-level education in the field.
Career Options with a Physics Degree
A degree in physics opens a lot of scientific doors in a variety of occupational fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment of physicists will grow by 8% between 2014-2024. The median salary for physicists in 2016 was $115,870, the BLS reports. Careers that graduates in physics can consider are listed below.