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Engineering physics degree vs physics degree

  1. Feb 24, 2013 #1


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    This is a topic that I would like to pose to Physics Forums.

    I have always wondered about the differences between a bachelor's degree in engineering physics and a corresponding bachelor's degree in physics.

    Specifically, what I would like to know if whether studying engineering physics provide more options for those students to pursue a wider variety of graduate programs than a regular physics degree, and also the "employability" of an engineering physics BS degree.

    (For the record, I knew only a couple of people with a background in engineering physics; one finished his PhD in computer science and the other finished her PhD in statistics).
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2013 #2


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    Engineering physics is a hybrid discipline that is more or less applied physics mixed with theory. Physics programs are often weighted to theory, and engineering programs are weighted toward applications. However, the portion of theory may vary according to departments and universities.

    Most often, I see Engineering Physics affiliated with Engineering departments.

    There is a need for both theory and applications.
  4. Feb 24, 2013 #3
    At my school ep is through the college of engineering but most of my classes are physics classes and my advisor is the physics advisor.

    It is also highly customizable, I could take the same physics curriculum that physics majors headed for grad school take, or I could take a lesser amount of physics (one semester of quantum and e&m, stat phys not required), and more engineering.

    As far as engineering goes, I can choose from eight concentrations: aero, cs, ee, mech, nuclear, industrial, chemical, and materials. I am taking cs so I'm required to take a year of software engineering with components, data structures and algorithms I, numerical methods, assembly and C, and about ten hours more electives.

    I also take a year-long senior research lab course for ep majors, and a one-semester senior survey lab for ep majors.

    In short, it can prepare you equally well for industry or grad school depending on your chosen classes.
  5. Feb 24, 2013 #4
    At my alma mater, engineering physics is no longer offered. When it was, one took the entire curriculum for mechanical engineering, and the the entire curriculum for physics, minus the overlap. If this sounds like a lot of work, it was. I did not do this, I took a B.S. in Physics. In retrospect, I probably would have really enjoyed it, because my work is mostly mechanical engineering. I also learned everything I needed later.

    The program was not popular, due to the intense workload required. Only very smart and very hard working students could reasonably complete it, which selected for only the best and brightest. *If* you graduated in this program from my school, it was a strong signal for "smart, works hard, manages time well".

    Engineering physics programs seem to vary widely. Check into the details of your program.
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