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Physical Sciences Major

Physical sciences is a major that typically falls into the Physical Sciences category.

There are 605 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in physical sciences, 3,043 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 1,076 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 786 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Physical Sciences Degree?

In 2017, roughly physical sciences majors graduated with a bachelor’s degree, making it the most popular major in the country. This major tends to be male dominated. About 59.9% of recent graduates are men.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of physical sciences majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 9.1%
  • Black or African American: 4.9%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 10.8%
  • White: 61.7%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 6.4%
  • Other Races: 7.1%
Physical Sciences Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in physical sciences. About 6.4% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending physical sciences majors to the U.S. are.

What Will You Learn as a Physical Sciences Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to physical sciences to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Physical Sciences Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Physical Sciences Majors

Skills for Physical Sciences Majors

Physical sciences majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

Important Skills for Physical Sciences Majors

Abilities for Physical Sciences Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a physical sciences student include the following:

Important Abilities for physical sciences Majors

What Can You Do With a Physical Sciences Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with physical sciences:

Careers Related to Physical Sciences
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors



Remote Sensing Scientists and Technologists



Industrial Ecologists



Physics Postsecondary Professors



Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health






Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers



Atmospheric and Space Scientists






Natural Sciences Managers



Physical Sciences Major Salary

Physical sciences majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $83,000 to $111,000. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Physical Sciences Major  ( 83000 to 111000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Physical Sciences Major Jobs

Some careers associated with physical sciences require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to physical sciences have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Physical Sciences
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Physical Sciences Programs

There are 3,043 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences, with 14 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is a Physical Sciences Major Worth It?

The median salary for a physical sciences grad is $102,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 162% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,259,800 after 20 years!

physical sciences salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: NASA via License

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