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Engineering Physics or Pure Physics?

  1. May 28, 2012 #1
    The title says it all.

    Engineering physicists have more job options than a regular physicist I hear so I'm kind of leaning towards that. Is it possible to get a Ph.D. in physics after a degree in EP? I only ask because physics is my passion but I also like engineering.

    Also is EP more engineering or physics oriented?

    Thanks so much!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2012 #2
    Yes so long as you have taken a sufficient number of courses and possess the knowledge base to success in your graduate physics classes. I'm in engineering but a physicist a heart. I guess my advice to you would go with your gut feeling. You can do whatever you want if you're willing to put in the time.
  4. May 29, 2012 #3
    I think you'll find that engineering physics will be more oriented towards whichever topics you find the most interesting. If you like physics, you'll probably study a lot harder for the physics parts of classes rather than the design parts, thus making your degree more physics oriented than engineering oriented.
  5. Jun 4, 2012 #4
    Honestly, it really depends on the program. Some programs would be more engineering oriented while some would be more physics oriented while some would be a sort of choose your own path.

    I'm studying engineering physics at UofT right now and I am definitely taking a lot of high level physics courses, I think just as many as the physics majors and physics specialists. I will most likely be doing a physics PhD.

    The one thing I do not get that physics specialists get is the deep math background. I am not as well versed in math as a lot of my physics counterparts. That said, I have no trouble picking up the math I need for pretty much all physics topics I study.

    Unless you plan on doing string theory or something highly theoretical/math related, you are probably pretty safe getting a eng phys degree.

    In terms of job options, it is really hard to say. My eng phys program definitely gives me a much better electrical engineering background along with programming skills that I think make me much more employable over another physics student. That said, I don't think anyone would higher me over someone who has studied pure electrical engineering. If jobs are what you want, I suggest studying pure engineering. If you want to do physics, you should probably look towards at least getting an MS, and then whatever your bachelors was is not so important.
  6. Jun 9, 2012 #5
    Your choice is great. Yes, it possible to get a Ph.D. in physics after a degree in EP. Many professors did so. For example, Michael E. Browne did so.
  7. Jun 9, 2012 #6


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    Can you explain to what YOU think "engineering physics" is and what "pure physics" is? Is condensed matter phys a pure physics or engineering physics? What about atomic and molecular physics? In fact, go through the APS divisions and let me know which is which.

  8. Jun 9, 2012 #7
    I regard pure physics as being just theoretical physics where the only goal is to understand the universe. I view Engineering Physics to be applying the concepts of physics to the real world to build and advance civilization.

    I'm not going to go through every branch of physics labeling it 'pure' or 'EP' but condensed matter could be both. If your just studying it and doing research to learn more about the nature of condensed matter it's pure. If your applying those concepts and/or engineering with those concepts it's EP. The same goes for atomic and molecular physics.

    I hope I've cleared things up about what I meant between pure physics and engineering physics.

    (Also thanks for all the responses thus far!)
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