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What can I do after University?

  1. Mar 5, 2014 #1
    Hello, I am Dario and Im a physics major at the University of Western Ontario. I am in my second year and at the point now where I am questioning what I can do with my degree following university. I am curious as to what careers there would be pertaining to a physics degree. I have the curiosity of switching into an engineering program, or remaining in my current program. I don't know what kind of GPA it would require for me to transfer into an engineering program, but I have a pretty decent one. My curiosity of switching into engineering comes from
    1. I am not aware of many options of what you can do with a physics degree after university, what kind of careers are associated with physics etc.;
    2. I don't know if I am interested in theoretical or experimental physics. Im unsure if conducting research would be my cup of tea, and;
    3. I have a great interest in physics, and engineering would be applying physics (and other areas of science) to design and build objects. I think this would be very interesting in dealing with

    I have had this conversation with one of my professors but am kind of seeking more professional advice on this. As a physics major we (meaning my professor and I) discussed that with only a BSc in physics you cannot really do much with it. He advised me that I most likely have two options with what I am doing right now to obtain a good job after university. Option 1 would be to remain in my physics major and then get a PhD. He said this option would be decent because there are not many Canadian physicists in Canada, and obtaining a PhD would allow myself to gain a good job working with a university. Option 2 would be if I'm not planning on going for a PhD then switch into engineering, because there is not a whole lot one can do with a normal BSc in physics.

    However there are problems with both situations. If I was to remain in physics and gain a PhD, I would have to be in school for another 4 years as a graduate. Secondly, with an average in the mid to high 70s I am unsure if I would even be accepted into an engineering program. Lastly, if I was to switch into engineering I would most likely have to begin university at stage one again. That meaning I'd have to be a first year eng student as I do not know if any of the eng and physics programs contain similar or the same courses.

    If anyone has any thought on this that would be greatly appreciated! This is definitely a hard decision to weigh out by myself and am seeking as much professional advice as possible (obviously I am going to see a counsellor here at my university as well).

    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2014 #2
    If you end up with a bachelors in physics, then your choices are quite limited. But a masters or a PhD is much more employable.
    Jobs range from academic research at a university, industrial research, working as a quant for banks, teaching, ...

    However, I don't think it'll come as a surprise that engineers are much more employable.

    One way to answer this question is to try and get into undergrad research. Contact a professor and ask him if you can do some research. This way you'll get a taste of what research is about.

    I find this a bit misleading. Obtaining a professorship is quite competitive. Perhaps the situation in Canada is different, but I doubt it.

    You could also just go for a masters, which is also somewhat employable.

    Unlikely that you need to start over completely. You know math and physics pretty well, so that are already some courses that you won't need to take. You should contact an academic advisor for this.

    Also, look into getting into an engineering masters with a BS in physics. Although I do recommend that if you want to get into engineering eventually, that you switch as soon as possible.
  4. Mar 5, 2014 #3
    I talked to an adviser about this and in my case freshman physics and the calculus sequence were the only courses I had completed that fulfill engineering requirements. (Some of the humanities I had taken did fulfill the university requirements)

    OP: My opinion is that you should only bother with a physics BS if you plan to do a PhD and try to become a professional physicist. Otherwise, a different STEM degree is a better choice with respect to getting a career.
  5. Mar 5, 2014 #4

    Yeah I feel like if I'm not planning on getting a PhD I would be better off switching programs. First I gotta figure out the requirements for transferring from physics to engineering and hopeful I can meet those.
  6. Mar 5, 2014 #5


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    I'm probably just adding voice to what's been said already.

    A PhD should at least be something you're considering if you're doing a bachelor's degree in physics. You do have some options if don't go through with it, but if you're pretty sure that the PhD is not where you want to go, then pursuing something that will give you some more directly marketable skills is probably your better option.

    One thing that may be worth considering is investing in some additional technical (and marketable) training. One its own, it's difficult to market a physics degree. But coupled with a professional qualification of some sort, you tend to stand out from the crowd. (This of course, costs money and time - both of which you're likely to feel short of by the end of your degree).

    As a Canadian, I'm not sure about that comment about Canadian physicists in Canada and that a PhD would necessarily lead to a job in academia. Though the situation *may* be slightly better here than in the US, it's not an order of magnitude better.
  7. Mar 6, 2014 #6
    Would a major in Physics be enough for pursuing graduate studies in Physics? Would a specialization be significantly more helpful? What major types of research are done without much computer science knowledge? It's not that I hate CS, i just don't particularly enjoy it and much more enjoy the theoretical and experimental aspects of Physics. I would definitely be open to pursing a Master's and PhD but what opportunities would this really open up? Aren't professorships really competitive (I am very interested in becoming a University Professor) and I go to Western btw and it seems like tenure is hard to get.

    Could anyone comment on the difference a Specialization in Physics vs Specialization is Medical Sciences or another related field like Immunology and what both offer specifically after a simple BSc? I would definitely be interested in going to graduate school, but are there better prospects for one compared to the other? I'm actually planning on doing a double major in Physics and Medical Sciences....would this be bad for graduate school if I only focus on one of the fields? I would try to combine them if possible and possibly specialize in one too....any thoughts?
  8. Mar 7, 2014 #7
    Okay I am in this predicament now. I am just waiting on seeing a counsellor right now to briefly talk about switching programs to engineering. I'm almost certain I would like to do so. I just am
    Wondering, if my GPA is not high enough to switch into eng, would I be able to take electives that I need while in engineering to upgrade my mark instead of taking physics major courses to upgrade them?

    Also, if my GPA is not going to be high enough, and today is the last day to
    Drop a course... If I think I am going to get a not-so-great mark in one of my courses then should I drop it at this point? Or just stick with it and upgrade my GPA with electives afterwards? This class would be intro to quantum mechanics so I don't know if it's needed
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