2024 Best Online Physics Degrees [Bachelor’s Guide]

By Dr. Brianna Anderson
Updated on December 26, 2023
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Find the best online physics degree programs for 2023. Discover accelerated classes and flexible online degree options to pursue your bachelor's in physics.

You can expand your knowledge of the physical world and scientific research with an online physics degree.

Best Online Physics Degrees

Physics is a scientific discipline that investigates the behavior of matter and energy. Professionals in this field study how the universe operates and can specialize in many areas, such as astrophysics, cosmology, and thermodynamics.

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Graduates who earn an online bachelors degree in physics can continue their education in graduate school or pursue a wide variety of meaningful careers in education, research, and other areas.

Online Physics Degrees

Man taking Online Physics Degree

A physics bachelors degree introduces you to fundamental concepts and theories in the discipline. You’ll study the powerful forces that shape the universe and gain a deeper understanding of physical phenomena like gravity, motion, and quantum mechanics.

This degree also allows you to hone your problem-solving and research skills. During coursework and labs, you can learn about experimental analysis, the scientific method, and principles of scientific inquiry. Physics has many practical applications, which can lead to exciting career opportunities. For example, graduates can use physics to design aircraft, measurement instruments, and satellites.

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Scientists have also used physics to create innovative medical treatments and technologies, like laser surgery and radiation oncology.

A bachelors degree in physics covers a wide range of topics to help students develop comprehensive knowledge in the field. Here are a few subjects you may have the opportunity to study:

  • Astrophysics
  • Classical mechanics
  • Cosmology
  • Electricity
  • Nuclear physics
  • Oceanography
  • Optics and spectroscopy
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Thermodynamics

Many bachelors in physics online programs let students specialize in a subfield. This option allows you to focus your studies on the topics you feel most passionate about. A concentration can also help you develop qualifications for a preferred career.

Here are a few examples of popular physics concentrations:

  • Advanced physics. This concentration focuses on complex physics concepts and principles and can help prepare you for a career in education or research.
  • Biological physics. This specialization uses chemistry and physics to study biological organisms and systems.
  • Mathematics physics. This concentration combines mathematics and theoretical physics to solve complex problems.
  • Medical physics. This track teaches you how to apply physics approaches and theories to develop innovations in healthcare.

Graduates who earn a bachelor in physics online may qualify for positions in engineering, healthcare, information technology, and other areas. Here are a few potential career paths:

  • Data analyst
  • High school teacher
  • IT consultant
  • Nuclear engineer
  • Research associate
  • Systems analyst
  • Web developer
  • Materials scientist

Additionally, many physics majors enroll in a masters or PhD program in physics. A graduate degree may help you secure more advanced and higher-paying positions in academia, industry, and research.

Physics Careers & Salaries

Physics Careers & Salaries

Many employers seek candidates with scientific knowledge and technical skills, which means physics majors may pursue careers in a broad range of industries.

For example, graduates may find employment in aviation and automotive industries, construction, climate science, education, healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing.

Some people use their physics bachelors degree to secure positions not traditionally associated with science. For instance, a physics background could come in handy if you want to become a sales representative for a company that sells scientific products or a technical writer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median wages of possible career paths associated with physics.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Nuclear Engineers $120,380
Sales Engineers $103,710
Data Scientists $100,910
Materials Scientists $100,090
Materials Engineers $98,300
Industrial Engineers $95,300
Geoscientists $83,680
Operations Research Analysts $82,360
Technical Writers $78,060
Web Developers $77,030

This list includes only a few of the numerous career possibilities available to physics majors. Of course, no degree can guarantee a specific career outcome or salary. Many factors can affect your career options and wages, such as your employer, geographic location, skills, and relevant work experience.

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Some of the most lucrative positions require advanced degrees or certifications on top of a bachelor’s degree in physics. But, an online bachelor’s degree may help you secure an entry-level position.

Bachelor of Physics Curriculum & Courses

Bachelor of Physics students in group research

The coursework in an online bachelors degree in physics can vary by school, but here are a few sample courses you may have the opportunity to take:

  • Classical Physics: You’ll study essential concepts in classical physics, including AC circuits, physical optics, and waves.
  • Data Science in Physics: This course investigates how data science methods and tools can enhance physics research.
  • Electromagnetics: This class examines dynamic and static electric and magnetic fields and their applications.
  • Instrumentation and Measurements: You’ll learn how to use software to design virtual instruments and complete projects using multiple measurements and tools.
  • Introduction to Modern Physics: This survey course overviews the historical development of physics branches and philosophical views about physics.
  • Introduction to Special Relativity: You’ll study concepts and equations of Einstein’s special theory of relativity, such as four vectors, Lorentz invariants, and time dilation.
  • General Physics: This introductory course covers foundational topics in physics, such as fluid mechanics, heat, and Newtonian mechanics.
  • Multivariate Calculus: This course teaches concepts in multivariate calculus and explores its applications for analytic geometry and physics.
  • Quantum Mechanics: You’ll learn about the history of quantum theory and study critical theories like angular momentum, the harmonic oscillator, and wave mechanics.
  • Thermodynamics: You’ll analyze key thermodynamics properties and theories and learn how thermodynamics can improve or limit engineering systems.

Many physics programs also require students to take foundational courses in English, history, mathematics, and other general education subjects.

Physics Major Admissions Requirements

student preparing Physics Major Admissions requirements

Every physics bachelor degree program has specific admissions criteria. These requirements vary by school but may include the following:

  • ACT or SAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Letters of recommendation from your teachers or employer
  • High school transcripts
  • Resume or CV that lists your skills, merits, extracurricular activities, and work experience

You’ll likely also be required to submit an online application form and pay an application fee, but some schools offer fee waivers for eligible students.

Accreditation

University offering Physics Bachelor Degrees

It can be beneficial to earn your bachelor’s degree in physics from a regionally accredited college or university.

A higher education institution earns accreditation by demonstrating that it provides an excellent education and meets quality standards established by an external accrediting body. It may be necessary to earn a degree from an accredited college in order to apply for licensure from a professional organization. Also, many graduate programs only accept students from accredited institutions.

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Employers may also prioritize candidates who have graduated from accredited schools because they’ve received a high-quality education. You can learn more about accreditation by visiting the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Physics Bachelor Degree Financial Aid

If you need financial assistance to pay for an online bachelors degree in physics, you’re not alone. Many students qualify for financial aid that can help decrease their upfront educational expenses.

You might receive financial aid from the federal government. You can see if you’re eligible for need-based grants or a federal work-study program, which pays students to work for their college or local employers. You can figure out if you qualify for this aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The federal government can also provide student loans. You would repay these loans after you graduate, but they typically have lower interest rates than private loans. Many colleges provide grants, scholarships, and other types of aid to qualifying students. You can contact the financial aid office at a school of interest to investigate your options.

Can You Do Physics Labs Online?

Scientists working in the Physics Labs

Laboratories are an essential component of any bachelors degree in physics, including online degree programs. These hands-on learning experiences allow you to apply your theoretical knowledge and sharpen your research skills.

Online physics programs may offer different formats for their laboratory components. Some programs have you visit the school’s physical campus several times a semester to complete laboratories in person. Others allow you to work with a local school or company to conduct experiments.

Some online programs send you laboratory supplies in the mail to perform experiments at home. With this option, you’ll typically film your experiment and submit the video to your professor for assessment.

What Can You Do with a Physics Degree?

Nuclear Engineers working in the control room

Earning a physics bachelors degree online can unlock many career opportunities. Many graduates pursue positions as data analysts, educators, web developers, mechanical engineers, materials scientists, nuclear engineers, and sales engineers.

Other graduates enter industries like aviation, construction, healthcare, and manufacturing. These areas often seek physics majors because they can use their scientific expertise to help create innovative new products.

Some graduates continue their education by enrolling in a masters or PhD program in physics. These advanced degrees can help you pursue a career in academia, the government, or research. So, there are various paths as to what you can do with a physics degree.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Physics Degree?

student pursuing Online Physics Degree

Students generally need to complete around 120 credit hours to earn an online bachelors degree in physics. If you attend your program full-time and follow a traditional 16 week semester, you can usually finish your bachelor’s degree in 4 years.

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Some online programs offer accelerated options. For example, you could take extra coursework for several semesters or enroll in summer classes. These methods could reduce the length of your studies. Taking courses part-time could extend the length of your studies, but it could also be beneficial to choose a flexible program that lets you study at your own pace.

What’s the Difference Between an Online Degree in Physics vs. Chemistry?

Chemistry and physics often work together but are distinct scientific fields with many differences.

Online Physics Degree Online Chemistry Degree
  • Examines the nature of energy and matter
  • Often covers a broad range of topics—like astronomy, geophysics, and thermodynamics
  • Studies chemical changes and processes
  • Often focuses narrowly on chemistry subfields—like analytical chemistry and organic chemistry

While a bachelor’s in physics could lead to a range of entry-level career paths, most chemistry-related jobs require a masters or PhD. Your strengths and professional goals can help you determine which degree fits best.

What’s the Difference Between a BA vs. BS in Physics Degree?

Colleges may offer a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Physics or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physics. Some schools offer both tracks. While both degrees cover foundational topics in physics, here are a few major differences.

BA in Physics BS in Physics
  • Combines comprehensive liberal arts coursework with physics classes
  • Provides a well-rounded, humanistic education
  • Can help you develop soft skills that apply to a variety of career paths
  • Centers on physics coursework and other science classes
  • Focuses more narrowly on science knowledge and skills
  • May help prepare students for graduate school or research positions

Your academic interests and career goals may impact which degree you choose.

Is a Physics Degree Worth It?

Geoscientists discussing in the lab

Yes, a physics degree is worth it for many students. This degree can help you understand the phenomena and principles that shape the world around us.

Earning a physics bachelors degree online can help prepare you for a variety of career paths. For example, graduates may work in engineering, research, education, or information technology. Those interested in more advanced roles, such as physicists, go on to earn graduate degrees in the field.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 7% growth for overall employment in life, physical, and social science occupations over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Physics Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Physics program online. Potential courses include Mathematical Methods in Physics, Programming for Physicists, and Quantum Physics. Courses are typically 7.5 weeks long. A special kit is mailed to perform labs at home. U.S. News & World Report has ranked ASU number 1 for innovation since 2016.

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University offers a BS in Physics program online. Potential courses include Multivariable Calculus, Electricity and Magnetism, and Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. Classes are typically 8 weeks long and the program is designed to be completed in 3.5 years. Liberty’s courses are commonly taught from a biblical perspective.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University campus

Thomas Edison State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Radiation Protection and Health Physics. Potential courses include Nuclear Physics for Technology, Introduction to Radiation Generating Devices, and Radiation Detection and Instrumentation.

Math skills to include college algebra or higher should be current before beginning the program. Transfer credit for on-the-job training and previously completed college courses may be awarded.

Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University campus

Western Governors University offers a Bachelor of Science in Science Education program online. It is designed to lead to teacher licensure. Potential courses include Calculus, Educational Technology for Teaching and Learning, and Electricity and Magnetism. Terms are typically 6 months long and a flat tuition rate is charged per semester. The program may be completed in 38 months.

Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your Bachelors in Physics Degree Online

Student taking Bachelors in Physics Degree Online

If you enjoy conducting experiments and studying science, you might consider earning a physics bachelors degree online. You could learn about many fascinating topics, such as biophysics, cosmology, and oceanography.

A bachelor’s degree in physics may unlock a variety of career opportunities. Many graduates work as engineers in various fields, like mechanical or nuclear engineering, but there are numerous other career options for physics majors. For instance, some work as data analysts, research associates, and web developers.

You can get started on your educational journey today by researching online physics programs from regionally accredited institutions.

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WRITTEN BY
Brianna has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida and an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include careers and professional development, digital pedagogy, and first-year writing.