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Physics BA?

  1. Jan 5, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone.
    I am a junior standing physics students at a private liberal arts university (St. John's University in Collegeville, MN specifically). I will be graduating in 3 semesters (if all goes according to plan haha) with a BA in physics and I was just wondering if I could see any difficulties with finding a job or being accepted into grad school with the BA rather than the BS?

    Also my school has an option for an Applied Physics major which requires a chemistry course as well as a few electronics courses and another computer programming course I believe…would this possibly be more useful to me?

    Thanks for the help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2014 #2


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    St. John's is a very respected school so I don't think the BA in and of itself is a problem. The Applied Physics major sounds good if you will learn some practical skills like programming.
  4. Jan 6, 2014 #3


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    What matters is the actual courses that you take, not whether the degree is labeled BA or BS.

    I got a BA in physics from a small private liberal arts college in Ohio. It was good enough to get me into U of Michigan for grad school. (disclaimer: this was nearly forty years ago...)
  5. Jan 6, 2014 #4

    Meir Achuz

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    Good grades and a good GRE will get you into grad school.
    If you definitely want to go to grad school in physics, don't bother with an
    applied physics option. Take computer programming and as many physics courses as you can.
  6. Jan 6, 2014 #5
    There is a lot of misinformation going on in this forum which should be expected after all it is a "Physics" forum. Do not expect to get a "Classical" Engineering job with a BA or BS in Physics period. The odds are against you. No, you are not more qualified than an engineer.

    The bullet points for Engineers to get are as follows:

    1. Co-op/Internship/Real work experience- companies are not looking for blank slates meaning only classroom work
    2. GPA -usually above a 3.0 you are good.
    3. Projects-a employer will most definitely ask what projects you have done,how you contributed,design schematics,and other documentation. Working with a team is important to a lot of employers.

    Do not let people fool you into thinking you will be a perfect candidate for an engineering job with a BS or BA inPhysics.
  7. Jan 6, 2014 #6

    D H

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    … and good recommendations. Those recommendations are very important.

    At many schools, the applied physics option is an attempt to address the problem that physics undergrads who go straight into industry have a hard time finding a job. This degree option is orthogonal to the aims of students who do want to go to graduate school.
  8. Jan 6, 2014 #7
    why is the applied physics degree option orthogonal to the aims of going to grad school?

    In my experience graduate schools committees are good at respecting work in industry or at least looking at what classes you took and using that as a basis of judgement along with letters of recc. An HR employee or recruiter on the other hand is much more likely to be looking for "keywords".

    An applied physics degree would not be anything but a positive for a student going into experimental condensed matter or any topic for that matter since programming is required in some capacity everywhere.
  9. Jan 6, 2014 #8
    Thanks for the feedback everyone I really appreciate it.
    So one of the things I'm understanding is that programming is very important. I already know Mathematica fairly well and I've had a semester of work with C++ (although I'll be the first to admit I could use some more practice with it). What other languages are important? Thanks again for the help.
  10. Jan 6, 2014 #9


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    Java, C#, MATLAB/Octave, python
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