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Why Study Physics?

Consider just one statistic: 94±4% of recently surveyed York physics alumni are satisfied or very satisfied with their employment.

A physicist's job consists of solving challenging problems, and the real world is full of problems to solve.

A physicist's ability to break a problem down into basic principles and deploy appropriate tools to analyze it can be applied to a wide range of fields and industries.

A physics background provides skills in quantitative reasoning, computing, critical thinking, and problem solving.  These skills are in great demand in industry and academia.  According to a recent survey, York physics alumni now have careers as teachers, professors, managers, researchers, software engineers, business owners and medical physicists. 

Physics students find that their studies are excellent preparation for many different fields:

* Physics and Astronomy majors going on to graduate school have the highest combined Verbal and Quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

* Physics majors and Math majors have the highest average scores of any major on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for business school. [Based on data from 2006-2011]

* Physics majors and Math majors have the highest average scores on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). [Based on data from 1991-1992 and 1994-1995 combined and from 1991-1992 alone.]

* Physics majors and Biomedical Engineering majors have the highest average scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). [Based on data from 2009.]

While a physics career yields the intangible reward of gaining a deeper appreciation of the way the universe works, there are tangible rewards as well --- physicists have in-demand skills and are paid accordingly.  40±7% of York physics graduates who shared their income with us in a recent survey have an annual income of $75,000 or more.

For more information, visit the Physics Is For You website of the American Institute of Physics.


Why study physics and astronomy at York?

Only 11±5% of recently surveyed York physics alumni would NOT choose Physics as an undergraduate degree if they could do it all over again.

The Physics and Astronomy Department faculty at York University includes excellent researchers in astronomy and in experimental as well as theoretical physics. These researchers have built their careers while training undergraduate and graduate students through a sound curriculum with a strong experimental component. We ensure that our students learn the subject matter and learn how to write scientific reports and how to deliver oral presentations (for exammple, reporting on an article from a journal such as Scientific American).

The class sizes to be expected are: 150 in first year (PHYS 1010), 50 in second year, 40 in third year, and 20 in fourth year (Honours Program).

A basic Physics curriculum consists of three years, and is called an Ordinary Physics Degree Program.

The Specialized Honours Degree Program in Physics or Astronomy represents the most direct path to a physics career. In the first three years it is composed of the ordinary degree requirements with some added courses (less free choice), and a good grade-point average is required to proceed to the fourth year. This year prepares equally for graduate school (in some courses it offers material at a level found in first-year graduate studies in the U.S.) as for a physics-based career in industry. It offers the possibility of doing projects that give some insight into physics research, and to obtain work experience. Well-qualified third- and fourth-year students can find summer employment in research groups. Within the SH Program one can choose a computational physics stream, which is particularly suitable for students who wish to pursue a career in practical computing.

Combined Honours Programs exist with most disciplines in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. From the physics point of view they contain the ordinary degree program requirements plus elements from the honours degree. The most popular combination is physics with applied mathematics, which permits the student to concentrate on numerical analysis and computing.

York physics alumni have put their degrees to work in many fields including education, science, business, medicine, manufacturing, engineering and the software industry.
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