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engineering physics vs aerospace engineering

in this post, we’ll be discovering which is the best major, engineering physics or aerospace engineering. and which major will fit your abilities, or which don’t.

Which Is Better aerospace engineering or engineering physics?

If you are passionate about physics and want to have a solid background in physics, engineering physics will be a good option, if you are fascinated about flying engines like helicopters, rockets, or spaceships you will likely have to choose aerospace engineering.

In engineering physics, you will be studying 80% of physics topics in addition to other math subjects and concentration subjects you choose. While in aerospace engineering you will be focusing deeply on aerodynamics and fluid dynamics subjects in addition to design courses.

If you find yourself comfortable in design and like to work by handcrafting things or building projects from scratch, you are likely made for aerospace engineering. 

On the other hand, if you like theory and do research about different physics topics, from different angles like helping to design optics sensors, working in automated systems or you feel attracted to the universe and like to watch documentaries about some weird physics topics like black holes, einstein relativity. So engineering physics will be suited for you.

But you have to understand that engineering physics is a little different from a traditional physics course. In engineering physics, you will be required to apply your physics topics and put them under experience. 

Engineering physics is an applied physics course where students are required to do a lot of experience and practice. We will explain that in detail in the next paragraph.

Engineering physics vs aerospace engineering job opportunities

In terms of salaries engineering, physics, and aerospace engineering have almost the same salaries. Engineers in physics can earn $140,000 while aerospace engineers earn a little bit lower around $120,000 a year.

but both of these careers are not as popular as you might be expecting like electrical or mechanical engineering. You will take a little bit before getting a job, but in some cases, you could be hired immediately after getting a bachelor’s degree, especially in engineering physics.

The great thing that engineering physics offers is you can take concentrations, in other words, you can dual degree a degree, the first one in physics and the second one, from these engineering branches:

We will explain that in detail in the next paragraph.

The difference between aerospace engineering and engineering physics.

Aerospace engineering is a program that focuses on a design using math and physics knowledge, while engineering physics is an applied physics course where students put physics theories and rules under a test and experimentation.

Physics majors can work and solve many problems in multiple areas, while aerospace engineers focus on two sides, aeronautics, and aerospace.

what student study in the aerospace engineering program

1 – In the first year

In the first year as an aerospace engineer, you will be studying principal and elementary math and physics courses like calculus 1, calculus 2, general physics and chemistry courses, and some introductory topics about engineering.

Typically these courses are not tough, you just have to be well prepared by taking precalculus and high school courses like calculus-based physics courses.

2 – In the second year

in the second year, you will be required to complete some difficult math and physics courses like calculus 3, differential equations, linear algebra, and physics topics like thermodynamics, mechanics of materials

In this course things become a little bit difficult, you will experience some hardships with math topics like calculus 3 and differential equations. In physics, you will be tired of thermodynamics. 

all the calculus courses you have taken will apply to thermodynamics, so you have to focus on calculus a lot in this major.

3 – third and last year

In the third and fourth years, you will be studying advanced math topics like:

what students study in the engineering physics program

The program of engineering physics is different from aerospace engineering. This program is full of physics topics.

1 – first year

The first subjects you will be discovering are calculus 1, calculus 2, mechanics, electricity, and magnetism. 

To study these topics you must at least have a solid background in physics calculus-based courses.

2 – Second year 

In the second year, you will be studying calculus 3 and differential equations, they are the same subjects you should take in aerospace engineering, in addition to general physics courses like classical mechanics. But you will discover new physics topics like:

These 3 subjects are the most difficult subjects you have to complete in this major. They require a lot of calculus, especially multivariable calculus. Struggling in calculus means the end, especially in thermodynamics. 

3 – third and last year

In your third and senior year, you will also discover quantum mechanics which is the toughest topic in physics. It is more difficult than thermodynamics. In addition, you will take engineering courses and lab classes to teach you about engineering and building projects.

The special thing in the third year is you will have a concentration of topics you have to choose among. You will be asked to decide to specialize or combine your physics classes with one of these engineering branches:

For instance, if you decide to take aerospace engineering, you will graduate with a double degree in aerospace engineering and physics degree which is a great option. 

So students who chooses aerospace engineering as a specialization must complete theses following subjects:

If you choose mechanical engineering you will be studying other concentration topics, like 

You have to understand that engineering physics programs are challenging and sometimes require 5 years to fully complete. For more information, you could check out this link.


If you are interested in studying physics and aerospace engineering, it will be a great idea to choose an engineering physics program, but you have to be ready to sacrifice and put in the work. This program requires a lot of hard work and dedication than traditional programs, it is like a double major program.

If you don’t like physics, you are not required to push yourself to study unrelated physics topics like quantum mechanics, you might not be using it. So it is better to opt for Aerospace engineering is less stressful and has fewer physics courses to complete.