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What can I do with a Physics BS besides engineering/CS...?

  1. Jun 22, 2015 #1
    I am a rising sophomore pursuing a physics BS with 3.75 GPA at a top 30 private university.

    After working in a lab as a undergrad research assistant, I realized that studying physics and doing physics is a completely different experience. While I love the subject matter, I can't imagine myself doing PhD research for the next x years after graduating,. It's solely an academic passion- I just like reading about it and doing problems because it's challenging and I'm not bad at it.

    As of now, I'm interested business, finance, scientific journalism, etc. ; I'm trying to get internships in these areas. I'm not that interested in engineering, computer science, or education. I know this is a pretty impossible situation but...

    1. What other careers can I consider with only a BS?
    2. Any minors or additional classes that will help me get to where I want? I hear wall street hires PhDs but what about a BS?
    3. Should I just NOT major in physics?
    4. any advice appreciated
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2015 #2
    Welcome to PF...

    Starting at a very young age, we often ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. Those notions change as they get older, and honestly, it never stops. I'm in my 50s and I still keep thinking of "what I want to be when I grow up."

    The approach many take for career decisions seems to be that you go to school, study something, and then look for work in that field. A better approach is to go to school with at least some idea of what kind of career you want; then adjust your studies to achieve that goal.

    That said, congratulations, you discovered something about yourself in school. It happens a lot. And it is good to discover this now.

    So what do you really like doing? Do you like following physics? Writing about physics? Using physics to develop new products? You have many options and you listed quite a few. You could keep physics as a minor and study Journalism, Engineering, Computer Science, and many other things. The extra few courses won't cost too much, and having a BSc degree like that does look good on a fresh graduate.

    But most of all, you need to consider what you want to do with your life when you graduate. Are you interested in settling down to start a family? Roaming the globe to meet interesting people? Exciting work? Work you can do while pursuing other interests on the side? Going work-aholic to make big money? Slacking to enjoy life?

    These are preferences that help determine what kind of career would suit you best. Think about it. Make a plan, and then act on it. Review it and then consider whether you want to change or not.

    This is a deeply personal decision. People can give you advice; but in the end, you're the one who has to live with the results.
  4. Jun 23, 2015 #3
    Given what you wrote, I vote not majoring in physics, or at least not only in physics. Doing physics problems prepares you for nothing, and being able to do them well will make you employable nowhere. Now, maybe doing physics problems provides you with a skill that you can apply to learn skills employers actually need, and maybe being able to do them well demonstrates a certain focus and ability to learn that means you could potentially be able to do something great. But it's just not sufficient. Physics BS holders who get jobs often do so because of other skills they have. Do you have those?

    There are approximately one gazillion threads on this boards about potential jobs for physics BS holders. Please take a look at a few and ask questions as needed. But my suggestion is to switch to a major that will have a better chance of providing you with skills that are useful in life.

    Best of luck.
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