In this post, we’ll discover if it is possible to switch from engineering to physics, and how to do that.
can you switch from engineering to physics?
Yes, it is possible to switch from engineering to physics regardless of the difficulties you will face. It’s still doable if you want to knock on a grad school door. But you have to complete Some Physics undergraduate courses or pass GRE Physics exams, so it depends on each school and its requirements.
Some schools don’t require to complete or retake some undergrad physics courses, they are just required to pass the GRE exam add link which would be talking and detailed later in our article.
while other schools require you to take some undergraduate physics courses like quantum mechanics, and relativity physics, in addition to other physics topics engineers, don’t study.
In general switching from engineering to physics is not as easy as switching from physics to engineering add link. you would have to deploy a lot of effort and take your time researching to find a suitable program school that aligns with your engineering background.
For instance, if you are a mechanical engineering graduate, the best choice to make is to take a master’s in computational physics because it has a lot of overlap with mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineers came with a background in some mathematics topics used in computational physics like computational methods, numerical analysis linear algebra.
On the other hand, you have to ensure that physics majors are more difficult than engineering, if you are looking to get a Ph.D. in engineering, you will be spending a lot of time between 5 to 10 years To get out of this position.
In addition, the opportunities for jobs for Ph.D. physics graduates are limited and very competitive. According to BLS, there are only 1600 Ph.D. physics jobs offered in the United States. While in engineering positions like mechanical or electrical engineering there are more than 20,000 jobs a year.
This is not to discourage you, but don’t take this road only if you are convinced and love physics. You have to be ready to take the sacrifice and double your efforts to get your Ph.D. degree because sometimes a physics Ph.D. might not be worth it add link.
How to switch from engineering to physics
If you want to switch from engineering to physics you have 3 options:
1 – drop engineering
If you are in your first year as a freshman or even sophomore engineering student, the best thing to do is to drop out as soon as possible, because you are still on the first road, it will matter to lose 1 year and take a major you care about.
You will not have to retake all the courses because engineering and physics have a lot of overlap. For instance, if you complete math courses in your engineering major like Calculus 1 and Calculus 2, you would not have to take them again in the physics program.
2 – take a master’s in physics
The second option you have is to take the master’s in physics after finishing your Bachelor’s in engineering. You would have the possibility to apply for master’s physics courses, but you still have to complete some undergrad physics courses like:
The undergrad physics courses that you have to complete as an engineering major will vary depending on two factors:
- For instance, if you came with a mechanical engineering background, you would not be required in most cases to retake a thermodynamics course Because mechanical engineers study it in their engineering program.
- The second is, that you have to choose the master branch of physics that matches your Mechanical background. For instance, if you choose computational physics, you will benefit from the math topics you took in the mechanical engineering program like linear algebra, numerical analysis, and computational methods.
In addition, most physics schools require engineering students to pass the GRE add link exam where you will have questions to respond to the following subjects:
You can find detailed information about the GRE Physics Subject Test.
3 – take an engineering physics course
The last option which is optimal for students who love to study Physics and Engineering together is taking engineering physics courses. you could major in an engineering physics course which is a combination between physics and engineering.
Physics engineering courses represent 80% of physics topics students have to complete in their first 2 years, and 20% of engineering classes they have to study in the last third and Senior year.
In addition, students get a double degree in the physics and engineering fields they choose. for instance, you could graduate with:
But you have to consider that this program is more challenging and in most cases, it will be taking you 5 years to complete, for more information you can read this complete article about engineering physics. add link
If you are in your first year of engineering major you have to ask your advisor to get an opportunity to switch from a traditional engineering course to physics engineering. It would be a good option if you want to take the safest route.
In physics engineering, you would have the opportunity to work as an engineer and physicist at the same time so if you didn’t arrive to find a job in physics you still have the chance to work in engineering which is a great and most secure option.