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How do I get an Online Physics Degree?

By Dorothy Bland
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Getting an online physics degree is not a decision to be made lightly. Physics is a branch of science that deals with the study of the universe and the natural laws that govern it. This complex and broad reaching science is considered one of the more challenging degrees to obtain through distance learning. A degree in physics can be the stepping stone to a rewarding and high paying career in math or science. A strong background in math and science, the dedication to work hard, and the willingness to deal with potential communication and access challenges are all key to getting an online physics degree.

It is possible for those who choose their course of study wisely and have the strong work ethic needed to get an online physics degree. High school courses in calculus, chemistry and physics will prepare students for the demands of college level courses. Taking advanced placement courses may allow students to gain college credits and reduce the time needed to complete an online physics degree.

The career track should be a priority when choosing between undergraduate and graduate degree programs in physics. With only a bachelor's degree, opportunities as a technician or research assistant may be found. Those interested in becoming physics teachers can choose a master's degree in physics education.

For most jobs in research and development, a doctorate is required. Those with a doctoral degree can choose between higher paying jobs for the government, universities, or the private sector. An online physics degree will also give students the knowledge needed for careers in other specializations. For example, an astrophysicist usually obtains a bachelor's degree in physics before gaining an advanced degree in astrophysics.

An essential part of obtaining a physic's degree is laboratory work. Students should review the curriculum of a physics program to determine if on campus learning will be required to complete laboratory assignments. This may mean choosing a school that offers a traditional campus located near school or home. Some online schools may accept transfer credits from local universities for classes requiring laboratory work. Alternatively, some programs allow students to complete lab work at home using lab kits or use computer simulations to create an interactive learning experience.

It is important that students choose an online physics school that meets regional accreditation standards. Most students require some assistance to pay college tuition. Accredited online schools in the US qualify for financial aid in the form of federal and state scholarships, grants, and loans. Without accreditation, a physics degree may be worthless for finding employment. Students may also find it difficult to transfer credits when changing schools or have a degree count towards enrolling in an advanced degree program.

Future job opportunities may be impacted by a school's reputation and handling of online learners. Talk to those with physics degrees and check online reviews of schools to find an esteemed university that provides an online physics degree. A physics college should also offer plenty of support for completing the program. Access to professors by email or telephone, and the ability to schedule individual consultations is advisable for online learning.

With an online physics degree, a student can create his or her own schedule. Students should be aware, however, that this flexibility may mean making some sacrifices. Professors at traditional universities are experts in the field who can assist with gaining research work, finding internship opportunities, and obtaining employment upon graduation. Those who lack dedication or require hands-on assistance may also miss the top-notch laboratories and group learning environments found at prestigious universities.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon118577 — On Oct 14, 2010

You're going to have a difficult time finding the prerequisite courses that you need online as the physics requirements at Charter Oak require classes with labs. Most of those you can only get at a brick & mortar school.

However, a great many colleges offer the math portion that's necessary online: Calc I,II, III and Differential Equations. Hope this helps but there really isn't much out there beyond Charter Oak's program which I think is one of the best in terms of flexibility. It sure beats trying to get into a local 4-year school and taking the traditional route.

By anon115034 — On Sep 30, 2010

I just called Charter Oak State College and was told that they can offer a degree completion program in Physics but only if you already have the upper-level physics courses from a traditional college or university. Oh well. Too bad.

By stinianne — On Jul 26, 2010

I think that means a big, "I don't know." The closest I've gotten is Charter Oak State College, but you have to already have some credits. If you go the teaching route, try WGU. Georgia Perimeter College has Intro and the next one, but that's all I got so far. Keep me posted as to what you find. Thanks!

By anon93651 — On Jul 05, 2010

Same problem here too. I was looking for a simple list.

By anon52433 — On Nov 14, 2009

The question wasn't "Why shouldn't I get a Physics degree online?" It was how! I've looked hard at many online universities and colleges offering online programs, and can't find a single program related to physics or engineering. So how do I get an online physics degree. I already know why I want one.

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