Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering Physics

  1. Apr 8, 2008 #1
    I am currently a Junior searching for the right major that I want to get in college.

    Of all majors, Engineering Physics is very difficult for me to understand.
    I do not know what exactly it is, nor do I know which profession it leads me to.
    Could anyone tell me these vexing answers that I am seeking?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2008 #2
    There are lots of types of engineering physics, but a lot of them have to do with developing techniques or equipment. An example is in a photonics lab, an engineering physicist would perhaps study how a laser works and set up schemes to be used in say, medphys or in micromachining. Where as a pure physicist would look more into actual physics problems.
  4. Apr 9, 2008 #3
    would there be any relation with Physics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering then?
    for ex. can I major in Physics Engineering and prepare for Masters in Mechanical Engineering?
  5. Apr 9, 2008 #4
    It would probably be better just to do Mechanical Engineering if that is your plan, especially if you decide not (or are unable) to go to grad school.
  6. Apr 9, 2008 #5
    At my university we have a 5 year masters program. One of them includes B.S. in Engineering Physics and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I am a 2nd year student and an engineering physics major. I take physics majors classes coupled with electrical, mechanical, engineering classes. I personally would rather start off as an engineering physics major. I plan to go to grad. school for pure physics. So when I am doing research I will have he technical skills to build, design, my own apparatus. I will be able to deal with circuits, mechanics, etc. of the system. Plus it looks better on an application when you apply to grad school over just a pure physics degree.

  7. Apr 9, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There are, as you say, lots of types of engineering physics (and it doesn't just differ between countries, it also differs A LOT between different universities). However, generally speaking engineering physics is usually "just" physics with more engineering-type courses (usually focused on EE and CS; not so much ME) than you would find in a "pure" physics program. Hence, you are in no way limited to "applied" physics if you decide to go on to get a PhD.
    My MSc is in Engineering physics but my PhD is in "pure" physics. I worked on (and still work on, but now as a research fellow) experimental low-temperature physics so the engineering part of my education was really useful. Some engineering-type courses like control theory, various courses in electronics etc have turned out to be very useful. That said, I also have friend who went on to work on string theory, mathematics etc and for them these courses were perhaps less useful.

    For many students the advantage of engineering physics over "pure" physics is that many universities allow you to choose courses quite freely during the last years; this means that it is possible to focus on the "engineering" part if you want to. I also have friends that took courses in e.g. microwave technology (which tend to be quite easy for engineering physics student since they have studied more math and EM theory than "ordinary" engineering students); they now work in the telecoms sector.
    Hence, engineering physicists can work on anything from string theory to mobile phones:cool:

    Btw, Max Tegmark (the cosmologist) is a good example of someone who studied engineering physics and then went on to work on something not-so-applied...
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2008
  8. Apr 11, 2008 #7

    I was reading these threads, researching on Engineering Physics - I am REALLY interested in that course - and mostly found great hints but people mostly talked about other kinds of engineering. So I figured I'd ask myself. In fact, I already know what that course would entail concerning the difficulty of the course. And thanks to the guy who just posted, I verified. What I'd like to know is the following:

    1. I searched for the course on some university websites (I'm a senior high school student... :P) and I didn't really find that specific course. I'm already sure that it's also called Engineering Science in Canada. What is the equivalent courses in the US or UK? (Even on MIT's site, I didn't find any clear indication whether they offered a joint course or whether I had to choose between regular physics or regular engineering!) Is Applied Physics an equivalent?

    2. I'd also like to know what are the job prospects I may have later on. I'm mostly interested in nano-engineering and I'm wondering about the type of job I'd get in that field. Actually, I'm a bit of a people person who wants to get in contact with people so I'm not really thinking about research. What comes to your mind?

    3. I'm thinking of university right now. I'm aiming at universities like U of T, MIT, Caltech or maybe Berkeley. Basically, I'm asking about great and top universities in engineering and thought this might be the place to ask about it. What would be your suggestion? A ranking list will be very much appreciated... :)

    Well, if anybody could answer these questions, I'd be really grateful. Thanks... :)
  9. Apr 11, 2008 #8
    The really important question is whether Engineering Physics is difficult for human resources departments to understand. . . if so, then avoid it at all costs.

    I've seen a lot of companies looking for a lot of different degrees, but I've never seen anyone looking for an engineering physics major. This doesn't mean no one is, but remember that the people hiring you are often clueless about the actual work that goes on. They are given an often short list of majors, and if yours isn't on it, you aren't considered, regardless of your skills.

    YMMV, but it will be worth your while to do this research now rather than when you graduate. . .
  10. Apr 11, 2008 #9

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    "Engineering Physics" means different things at different schools. I have a BS in Engineering Physics from RPI, where it is basically a hybrid between EE, NukeE, and Physics. It was generally understood that EPhys people were destined for grad school, and we were encouraged to use our electives to prepare us for that. I had classmates go to grad school in EE, NukeE, Physics, Materials Engineering, ChemE, etc.

    Tell me, what courses are in the curriculum for EPhys at your school?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook