Full bachelor's degree programs in physics are rarely available online, but read on to explore some alternate distance learning options in physics, such as individual courses or physics teacher education programs.
A number of colleges and universities offer distance learning physics courses, and students who have already earned some credits in physics and have a strong educational background in calculus may complete their bachelor's degrees online. Many online degree programs are offered in a hybrid format and require that students seek out local institutions to complete labs and other hands-on physics courses. In teacher education programs, students may be required to get student teaching experience prior to graduation.
Physics Programs and Courses
Students who simply need physics credits or would like to supplement other degree programs can take individual physics courses online. Many schools offer introductory distance learning physics courses that deliver all of the content online, including laboratory materials. Some courses require students to be admitted to the primary institution, while others allow students to apply directly to the online program. A background in calculus is typically required to enroll in online undergraduate physics courses. Topics may include:
- Classical mechanics
- Quantum mechanics
- General relativity
- Special relativity
Teacher Education Programs
Some universities offer distance learning teacher education programs which allow students to prepare for positions as physics instructors. In these cases, students may be able to complete their coursework online, but they must complete student teaching experiences in an approved school setting. In order to be eligible for certification, prospective students must make sure that an online program meets their state's particular regulations for public school teachers. Those who are enrolled in an online bachelor's program for teacher training follow a curriculum combining physics and education coursework. Students preparing for middle and high school teaching may study the following:
- Science and technology
- Modern physics
- Waves and optics
- Instructional planning
- Science teaching methods
Like many other bachelor's-level programs, those in physics teacher education typically take around four years to complete. However, students who have already completed general education coursework - including courses in calculus and the sciences - may be able to finish in half that time.
Online physics programs typically use online learning suites, such as ACORN or Blackboard, to disseminate course materials and connect students with instructors. Many programs also offer asynchronous learning, allowing students to complete the coursework and degree at their own pace. They are able to interact with classmates using chat rooms and discussion forums.
Career and Continuing Education Information
After completing a bachelor's degree in physics, online students may consider continuing their studies through graduate education. Both master's and doctoral degrees in physics are offered via distance learning in hybrid and on-campus formats. An advanced degree in physics could lead to a career in research or university-level education.
Students who are interested in studying physics online can enroll in standalone courses that offer training in the fundamental concepts of the field. Those who want to become physics teachers can enroll in teacher training programs at the bachelor's degree level, which combine traditional physics coursework with pedagogical skill-building.