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Is a physics/chemistry bachelor a physicist/chemist?

  1. Oct 25, 2015 #1
    In my country we do not have an equivalent to the 3-year B.Sc that some coutries have. All the degrees have 4 years, and after that you get the first academical title and then you can do a master if you want (supposedly more specialised).

    Perhaps it is only a semantic question, but do you think that a 3-year grade is sufficient to consider someone as a physicist/chemist/biologist?. In the case of physics, it seems to me very little time to cover all the general contents necessary to have an overall view of physics (classical electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, a bit of statistical physics, etc, etc), I guess is its just sufficient for studying "classical" physics: mechanics, a bit of electromagnetism, thermodynamics, some optics...

    Is a BSc sufficient to find a work related to the science anywhere?
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2015 #2
    I believe a physicist is someone who does work in physics, regardless of the degree. If someone has a degree in history but works as a programmer, would you say that person is a historian?
  4. Oct 25, 2015 #3
    Maybe you are right.
    But consider for example someone whith a physics doctorate and a good command of physics who work in something not related to physics. He/she is not a physicist?
  5. Oct 25, 2015 #4


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    There are many people with physics degrees, including PhDs, who work as engineers and call themselves as engineers based on their job titles.

  6. Oct 25, 2015 #5


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    It is a semantics question.

    Technically anyone can call him or herself a "physicist" even without a bachelor's degree in the subject because there in no legal protection of the term as there is with a title like "physician" or "pharmacist." In the latter cases the titles are legally restricted because the state regulates the associated professions.

    That said, the most common interpretation of "physicist" is someone with a PhD in the subject who is actively working in the field. If you tell someone on these forums or generally anyone with an academic background that is what you are, then this is what they will tend to assume.

    In some cases someone with a bachelor's degree in physics can be considered a "physicist." The Canadian Association of Physicists has a PPhys designation for example, which awards that designation with a BSc as a minimum and a few years of experience working in a context where physics principles are applied. (It's a rather open definition, from what I remember.)

    I'm not sure about "chemist" but I suspect it follows the same rules - or lack thereof.
  7. Oct 25, 2015 #6


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    Such a person is not a physicist. He once was a physicist, but is no longer one.
  8. Oct 27, 2015 #7


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