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2023 Physical Sciences Degree Guide

The Physical Sciences field is multi-disciplinary, allowing students to take classes in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, meteorology, and more in order to learn the laws of nature, the chemical makeup of rocks and soil and much more. Graduates learn math and science skills that prepare them for careers in a variety of industries.

Physical Sciences is a large field with several possible choices for majors. Students can major in General Physical Sciences for a broad education in all topics. If they are more interested in space and space travel, the may choose a major in Astronomy and Astrophysics, while those interested in weather can major in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology. Other majors include Chemistry, Geological and Earth Sciences, Physics and Material Sciences.

Physical Sciences Degrees Decreasing

#19 Most Popular Major
50.3k Degrees Awarded
-5.1% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, physical sciences was the 19th most popular major nationwide with 50,306 degrees awarded. This 2,573 less than the prior year, a decrease of 5.1%.

This year's Best Physical Sciences Schools ranking compares 256 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Explore this or one of our many other custom physical sciences rankings further below.

2023 Best Colleges for Physical Sciences
2023 Overall Best Physical Sciences Colleges >

Best Physical Sciences Schools by Degree

Associate Degrees in Physical Sciences
Bachelor's Degrees in Physical Sciences
Master's Degrees in Physical Sciences
Doctorate Degrees in Physical Sciences

Physical Sciences Degree Requirements

Students who pursue a degree in Physical Sciences have a strong background in math and science, specifically chemistry and physics. Other necessary skills for a successful career in this field include analytical and critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills. Scientists often work together to solve problems making it important for accurate information to be spread efficiently and project requirements to be thoroughly explained.

Bachelor's degrees in this field may allow for an entry-level position, but a master's or Ph.D. is required for advancement. These additional degrees also give graduates the ability to conduct research, pursue fulltime positions, and lead projects.

Prior Education for a Physical Sciences Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific physical sciences careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of Physical Sciences Degrees

Physical Sciences degree levels vary. Physical Sciences programs offered by schools range from a to a , which is the highest physical sciences degree you can get. How long it takes to complete some common physical sciences degree levels is shown below.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to physical sciences, with approximately 32.9% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to physical sciences tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 33.0%
Master’s Degree 25.7%
Doctoral Degree 19.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 11.8%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 3.5%

58.4% of physical sciences workers have at least a master's. See the chart below for the most common degree level workers in physical sciences have received.


This of course varies depending on which physical sciences career you choose.

Physical Sciences Careers

Above Average Number of Jobs
$40k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Students who graduate with a degree in the Physical Sciences often pursue careers that allow them to work closely with the natural world. Graduates have gone on to find jobs as meteorologists, geologists, chemists, physicists, and astronomers. Their advanced knowledge in math and science fields have allowed graduates to find jobs at research and development firms, with NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and at the National Weather Service.

Solid Growth Projected for Physical Sciences Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your physical sciences degree? Physical Sciences careers are expected to grow 8.3% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to physical sciences.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Professors 258,700 9.4%
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists 99,400 11.1%
Chemists 94,000 6.5%

How Much Money Do Physical Sciences Grads Make?

Recently graduated physical sciences students earned an average of $40,005 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $7,081 to as high as $126,908. As you might expect, salaries for physical sciences graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Physical Sciences Majors

Salaries for physical sciences graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers physical sciences grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Natural Sciences Managers $139,680
Physicists $125,280
Engineering Professors $113,680
Astronomers $111,090

Getting Your Physical Sciences Degree

With over 6,629 different physical sciences degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased physical sciences school rankings to help you with this.

Physical Sciences Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Chemistry 21,239
Physics 13,674
Geological & Earth Sciences 7,821
General Physical Sciences 3,823
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,375

View All Physical Sciences Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Computer & Information Sciences 254,454
Engineering 198,468
Biological & Biomedical Sciences 177,778
Engineering Technologies 85,188
Mathematics & Statistics 52,396

View All Physical Sciences Related Majors >


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