Theoretical Physics

Theoretical physics is a field devoted to modeling physical phenomena, and leaves the rocket science to experimental physicists. Theoretical physicists build on the works of scientists like Maxwell, Hawking and Einstein. Read on for education and career options for theoretical physicists.

Inside Theoretical Physics

Theoretical physicists are thinkers in the academic world, and their work operates alongside experimental physics to provide a picture of the cosmos. They use mathematics and insights drawn from models such as string theory or the standard model to describe and predict physical occurrences. Research in theoretical physics may explore nuclear physics, cosmology, mathematical physics, particle physics and gravitational physics; however, theoretical or mathematical physics does not generally include experimental research. A career in theoretical physics requires extensive knowledge of physics and mathematics, as well as computer skills. Theoretical physicists typically work as researchers for academia, but may hold analyst positions in the finance sector.

Education Information

Students interested in theoretical physics can start their academic careers with an undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Physics that includes theoretical courses in modern and classical physics, along with math courses and applied labs. A stronger theoretical physics focus begins in master's and Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) degree programs.

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