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Nuclear Physics Major

condor30condor30 Posts: 1,083Registered User Senior Member
edited April 2008 in Other College Majors
ds has asked me to help him find colleges that have a nuclear physics major. any suggestions? is there a listing on the web?

i am wondering if this is an undergraduate major or if is one of those situations where he would have to get the undergrad major in physics and then go on to graduate school for the nuclear physics. is the the usual path?

what about double majors? do students with this interest, normally double major in physics and math?
Post edited by condor30 on

Replies to: Nuclear Physics Major

  • GrumFrumGrumFrum Posts: 195Registered User Junior Member
    Nuclear Physics is something you would study in graduate school. There might be 1 class on Nuclear Physics at the undergrad level. So, look for schools that offer physics as a major. Lots of physics majors double major in math, especially if they are interested primarily in theoretical physics.
  • condor30condor30 Posts: 1,083Registered User Senior Member
    grumfrum,thanks for the reply. do you know how does this field then differ from nuclear physics engineering? it is that it is more theoretical in nature? what kinds of careers do these students go on to once they receive their graduate degree (nuclear physics)? do they teach? govt. work? consulting? thanks for your help :)
  • GrumFrumGrumFrum Posts: 195Registered User Junior Member
    Nuclear engineering actually doesn't have much to do with nuclear physics (I only know this because I was a nuclear engineering major, but switched to physics, thinking that it did have to do with nuclear physics). Nuclear engineering is more about applications of nuclear power, so classes are about reactor design, thermodynamics, radiation and related health issues, etc. Most Nuclear engineering programs stop learning physics right before the atomic level (i.e. quantum mechanics, and if they do learn quantum mechanics its usually in a modern physics class which is just a very basic introduction), and instead learn atomic-level interactions from a chemistry standpoint. Graduate level nuclear engineering programs might learn some nuclear physics, but the point is that nuclear engineering does not have much to do with nuclear physics.

    I'm not very certain what one can do with a graduate degree in nuclear physics. My only reassuring statistic is that over 90% of PhDs work in a field related to Physics, and the unemployment rate is very small. I wish I could find the exact reference for this statistic, but I'm running in circles looking for it. Its somewhere on this website, anyways: Education and Employment Data - American Institute of Physics I've also read that people with a degree in experimental physics as opposed to theoretical have a much easier time finding a job outside of academia (so in this case it would be experimental nuclear physics as opposed to theoretical nuclear physics).

    I should also note something that most people not actually studying physics know, which is that there is a difference between nuclear physics and particle physics. When most people think of nuclear physics they are actually thinking of particle physics (which, to be technical, is usually called high energy physics in the physics world). You can find what the difference is on Wikipedia.
  • condor30condor30 Posts: 1,083Registered User Senior Member
    grumfrum, thanks so much for your help. i'll be sure to pass this info. on to my son. thanks again :)
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