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Physics What kind of qualitifcations do you need to teach physics?

  1. Jun 24, 2012 #1
    I mean teach physics at universities.. I know you need a Ph.D and MS of course, but there are a lot of branches in physics, do you have to study something particular or simply anything that has to do with physics?
    Also what is the difference between someone who has a Ph.D (a Doctor) and a professor? I'm not sure if it's the same thing..

    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2012 #2
    A professor is someone who teaches at a university. A Ph.D. is an advanced degree in a subject.

    The vast majority of professors in the US have Ph.D.'s, but not all. Also, there are plenty of Ph.D.'s who work in industry and so are not professors. (An MS is totally optional. In fact the usual path in the US these days is BS -> Ph.D.)

    To get a Ph.D., students usually have to pass a Qualifying Exam (or exams) that covers all branches of physics, but then write a thesis describing their original research on a particular, specialized branch of physics. The results in the thesis are then presented orally to an examining committee that decides if the thesis is acceptable.

    The format and content of the qualifiers vary from university to university.
  4. Jun 25, 2012 #3


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    Some schools are looking for a particular field of physics when they hire a professor, others will take any field of physics. Larger programs are more likely to look for professors who do research in a particular field (astro, particle, education, etc), while smaller schools are more likely to hire based on your teaching experience and whether or not you can support your research program without a lot of funding.
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