Physics Certification and Certificate Programs

This article discusses physics certificate programs and related certifications. Read on to explore educational prerequisites, program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

Physics is a broad discipline that seeks to explain and understand the physical nature of the universe. Physicists work in research and development positions within industry, government and academia. Those who obtain the required additional education and certification might also become teachers at the high school level.

Only a handful of colleges and universities award certificates in physics. Instead, most schools feature physics programs that begin at the associate or bachelor's degree level, depending on the type of institution. Students who earn a certificate learn the fundamentals of physics but may not have enough training to find jobs in the field. Typically, certificate programs require students to earn 15-21 academic credits.

Educational Prerequisites

Some universities only offer physics certificates to current degree students pursuing another major. Other schools welcome non-degree students and require no prerequisites besides a high school diploma or GED.

Physics Program Coursework

Students must complete required introductory courses in addition to their choice of electives, which are usually selected from a variety of topics.

  • Astrophysics
  • Calculus
  • Mechanics
  • Modern physics
  • Molecular physics
  • Optics

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Physicists have a good employment outlook, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2010-2020, jobs are projected to grow by 14%. In May 2012, physicists earned a median income of $106,840 a year, as reported by the BLS. The highest ten percent made $176,630 annually, while the lowest ten percent made $57,640 annually.

Continuing Education Information

For viable job prospects, a more advanced degree in physics is necessary. Bachelor's degrees often lead to employment as research assistants or technicians, while master's degrees and Ph.D.s earn graduates employment as designers, researchers and professors.

Certification Information

Physics majors hoping to teach physics in high schools must earn a teaching certification in physics from their state boards of education. In addition to taking physics classes during their bachelor's degree program, students take education theory and methods classes. They also complete a period of student teaching and pass certification exams.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
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  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Forestry and Wildlands Management
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Natural Resources Management
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
        • Atomic and Molecular Physics
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Natural Resources Management
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
        • Atomic and Molecular Physics
        • Theoretical Physics
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Forestry and Wildlands Management
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Natural Resources Management
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Forestry and Wildlands Management
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics

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