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Study a graduate program in physics

What will I study in a graduate physics program?

Physics takes in everything, from atom molecules to the far reaches of the universe, from string theory to bridges. Those with graduate degrees in physics are sort after in multiple areas, and can often command high salaries due to their highly technical skillsets.
Postgraduate physics programs offer taught and research degrees in various areas. Some of these options may include:

  • Astrophysics
  • Nuclear physics
  • Theoretical physics
  • Medical physics
  • Quantum physics
  • Experimental physics
  • Surface physics

Postgraduate courses in physics allow you to focus on a certain area – whether this is molecular physics, theoretical physics or uncovering the secrets of the Solar System. You are likely to spend time conducting experiments, analysing results, and will probably carry out an extended investigation over a period of time.

Length of program

Graduate programs in physics last the following duration in each country, although this may change depending on the options you choose:

  • UK – 1-3 years
  • US – 1-3 years
  • China – 2-3 years
  • Canada – 1-2 years

Entry requirements

Postgraduate courses in physics will in most cases require you to have a good undergraduate degree (with honours) in physics, although some courses may allow for closely related subjects, such as engineering, if they are relevant to the masters. Some universities may require certain modules to have been studied during your bachelor’s degree.

Specific entry requirements for individual courses vary from country to country and even between different universities.

For research based programs you may be expected to submit a research proposal about the work that you intend to do on the course.

If you choose to study somewhere with a different first language from your own, you may have to take a language test before you are admitted.

Career development

After a postgraduate physics degree you will have the obtained substantial levels of knowledge in the field, so a job in research, teaching or academia would be an obvious career route. Working in the engineering sector is also popular for those with postgraduate physics degrees.

Physics graduates have a highly prized set of skills, as well as strong technical knowledge, which makes them suitable for various other fields of work. Some of these areas may include law, business, finance, research or publishing, where your teamwork, communication and analytical skills will all be of huge value.

Fees and funding

The cost of physics graduate programs varies widely from country to country and university to university. Remember that fees depend on whether you are a home, EU or international student. As a guide, expect to pay the following in these countries per year:

  • UK - £4,500 - £17,000
  • USA - $5,000 - $30,000
  • Germany  €2,000 - €5,000
  • Canada - $4,000-8,000
  • China – RMB 21,000-24,000

What to do next

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