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Engineering Physics vs. Applied Physics

In this post, we’ll be discovering the difference between engineering physics and applied physics.

What is the difference between engineering physics and applied physics?

Engineering physics and applied physics are almost the same, in engineering physics students take math and physics courses combined to solve engineering problems, which is the same as applied physics, but applied physics is broader and allows students to prepare for any related branches to physics and math, even business and economics that seems far away from this major.

In engineering physics students focus only on physics rules and principles that can be used in engineering branches depending on each specialization, not business and economics like applied physics. You can combine any engineering branch with physics. In engineering physics, there are many specializations you have to choose between.

For instance, you can choose an electrical engineering major and study it with physics, then you will be considered an electrical engineer physicist. You will have deeper knowledge and know more than a traditional electrical engineer by focusing more on electromagnetism, dielectrics, and even material science. 

So the goal of engineering physics is to prepare engineers who know the details about their domain by giving them more practical skills like design, programming, management, etc.

In engineering physics there are many specializations you could take including:

in this link you will find all the branches of engineering physics.

In applied physics, you study all physics subjects that can be included in many industries, not only engineering but medicine, research, economics, computer science, etc.

So applied physics is broader and good preparation for many schools, some students take applied physics courses to prepare for med schools, while others prepare for advanced grad schools to get a Ph.D. in physics, especially talking about practical or experimental physics.

In engineering physics, you study physics engineering for the sake of being a knowledgeable and open eye in your specialty of engineering. For instance, a mechanical engineer can become a Physicist mechanical engineer.

 In this case, it still a mechanical engineer but has a deep background allowing him more details like material science and how objects are made from his physics perspective.

It is very hard to give a clear difference between engineering physics and applied physics,  but the main point between engineering physics and applied physics are the ones we noticed. You don’t have to worry if you choose one of them because both are good.

Is engineering physics worth it?

According to glassdoor, The national average salary for an Engineering Physicist is $115,456 per year in the United States. As a beginner you will be starting from 70 to 80k a year, so financially engineering physics is worth it and a satisfying job.

Engineer physics has the advantage of being better and more knowledgeable than traditional engineers, based on the huge math and physics programs they have gone through.

 The engineering physics program is not made for anyone, some schools give a double degree, one in physics and a second in the engineering branch you choose.

Engineering physics is hard, even in general electives students have math courses, so there is no history or kind of easy topics to compensate with. All you have in front of you is math and physics.

So Engineering physics will be worth it if you enjoy solving problems and love to implement physics and math. It requires a lot of hard work and pushing more effort than traditional engineering classes, but in the end, makes you differentiated from other engineers in your sectors.

Engineers can solve difficult issues more than traditional engineers because they are taught the details and have gone deeper into physics topics. 

So when you graduate as an engineering physicist, you will be playing both roles, the :

what physics engineers study

Engineering physicists are studying the principal physics topics like traditional physics major physics courses like quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, kinematics, and so on. But they focus more on the applied part of these topics.

In other words, instead of focusing on proofs and solving physical math equations alone, they focus on design and experiments, for instance, implementing math and physics to improve an engine’s efficiency that consumes less fuel and produces the same amount of power. This is what makes engineering physics and applied physics similar.

Is engineering physics hard

Engineering physics is very tough, you have to balance between engineering courses and at the same time take physics and other relevant topics like chemistry. So it is challenging and requires to be a fast learner absorbing all these topics in the right amount of time.

It is like you are doubling in physics and engineering where you have to look at both sides, physics, and engineering.

you must have good foundations in math, especially calculus and differential equations, in addition to doing well in physics topics. It is like taking honors physics in math and physics at the same time.

If you struggle in math, engineering physics can be hell, or if you get stressed easily we do not recommend taking this course. Engineering programs are already enough to get you an honorable job.

You must like to challenge yourself and have a passion to learn physics and math to resist the long hours you should put into studying this curriculum.

 It will be a good idea if you are looking to work in engineering and at the same time prepare for getting a Ph.D. in physics. It is doable.

We wrote a complete article about engineering physics if you want to know more information about it.