Types of Degrees Physical Sciences Majors Are Getting
The following table lists how many physical sciences graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.
|Education Level||Number of Grads|
What Physical Sciences Majors Need to Know
In an O*NET survey, physical sciences majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.
Knowledge Areas for Physical Sciences Majors
This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:
- English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Skills for Physical Sciences Majors
The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to physical sciences:
- Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Abilities for Physical Sciences Majors
Physical Sciences majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:
- Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
What Can You Do With a Physical Sciences Major?
People with a physical sciences degree often go into the following careers:
Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Physical Sciences?
At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of physical sciences majors is as follows:
|Race/Ethnicity||Number of Grads|
|Black or African American||182|
|Hispanic or Latino||513|
Students from other countries are interested in Physical Sciences, too. About 26.1% of those with this major are international students.
How Much Do Physical Sciences Majors Make?
Master’s Degree Starting Salary
Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that physical sciences students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree made a median starting salary of $64,600 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $57,550 (25th percentile) and $68,650 (75th percentile).
We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to physical sciences so take that into consideration.
Salaries According to BLS
Average salaries range from $82,790 to $111,090 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to physical sciences. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.
To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.
Amount of Education Required for Careers Related to Physical Sciences
Some careers associated with physical sciences require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.
Find out what the typical degree level is for physical sciences careers below.
|Education Level||Percentage of Workers|
|High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)||0.8%|
|Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production)||0.5%|
|Some College Courses||2.3%|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||1.7%|
|Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master.||3.5%|
|Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level.||1.2%|
|First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession.||0.3%|
Online Physical Sciences Programs
In the 2018-2019 academic year, 1,519 schools offered some type of physical sciences program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.
|Degree Level||Colleges Offering Programs||Colleges Offering Online Classes|
|Certificate (Less Than 1 Year)||87||1|
|Certificate (1-2 years)||19||2|
|Certificate (2-4 Years)||1||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Research)||795||2|
|Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice)||0||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Other)||2||0|
Is a Degree in Physical Sciences Worth It?
The median salary for a physical sciences grad is $101,890 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.
This is 155% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,239,800 after 20 years!
Explore Major by State
Majors Related to Physical Sciences
You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to physical sciences.
|Major||Number of Grads|
|Computer & Information Sciences||51,096|
|Biological & Biomedical Sciences||27,505|
|Mathematics & Statistics||13,820|
|Architecture & Related Services||7,816|
|Natural Resources & Conservation||5,491|
|Agriculture & Agriculture Operations||3,975|
|Communications Technologies & Support||604|
|Science Technologies / Technicians||70|
- College Factual
- College Scorecard
- National Center for Education Statistics
- O*NET Online
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers First Quarter 2020
- Image Credit: By NASA under License
More about our data sources and methodologies.
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