Rochester Institute of Technology

Academic Program Overviews

Student Skills & Capabilities, Salary Data, Career Information 

Physics BS

Program Overview

The BS program in Physics offers a broad curriculum that prepares students for employment in research and industry after graduation, as well as for graduate study in physics and related areas.  The structured core curriculum provides a broad and solid foundation in experimental, computational, and theoretical concepts, with emphasis on laboratory training and experience relevant to the requirements of the professional world of work and of advanced study in graduate or professional programs.  It also is sufficiently flexible so that the student can plan a minor or a course sequence in such areas as optics, engineering, astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, or mathematics.  Students also may prepare for entry into medical, law, or business school

Degrees Awarded

  • Bachelor of Science


  • Approximately 170 students

Cooperative Education & Experiential Education Component

  • Optional; 2 terms recommended. All students eligible upon completion of second year courses

Salary Information

               Avg.                                      Range
Co-op:        $12.67/hr                             $11.00 - $20.00/hr (2014 – 2016)
BS:             $55,710                                 $48,445 - $62,500
* From the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) Spring 2015

Equipment & Facilities

  • X-Ray and Surface Science Laboratory:   Physical Electronics ultra-high-vacuum system with x-ray photoelectron and Auger/Meitner electron spectrometer; x-ray diffraction hutch housing Huber four-circle diffractometer with  sealed-tube x-ray sourceAtomic-Scale Microscopy Laboratory:  Bruker Innova atomic-force/scanning-tunneling microscope
  • Laser Light Scattering Laboratory:  complex and biological fluid studies
  • Optics Laboratory: various standard optical equipment; low-power lasers; one high-power laser; wavelength/frequency analysis; laser light communications and imaging applications. Magnetic Materials Laboratory: vibrating sample magnetometer; magnetic and electric field measurements for bulk and thin film materials.
  • Quantum Optics Teaching Laboratory
  • Modern Physics Teaching Laboratory
  • Electronics Teaching Laboratory
  • Observatory: 14-inch and 12-inch telescopes with CCD cameras, video cameras and GPS time-stamping capability.
  • Granular Materials Laboratory: dynamics and jamming of granular materials in a variety of geometries, including materials in a variety of geometries, including avalanches in rotating drums and jamming in hopper flow; video and mass flow data acquisition and analysis.
  • Supercomputer Clusters:  computational support for gravitational physics and astrophysics
  • Nanopower Research Laboratories (NPRL) – dedicated to the basic and applied nanotechnology research associated with the development of materials and devices for energy conversion and storage.  The NPRL encompasses six separate laboratories with a combined total of over 6000 square feet of research space   These laboratories include: a photovoltaic characterization laboratory; a wet chemistry synthesis facility; a thermal, spectroscopic, and microscopic characterization facility; an electrochemistry/chromatography laboratory; a battery testing laboratory with extensive hood space; and a laser laboratory.

Nature of Work

Physicists explore and identify basic principles governing the structure and behavior of matter, the generation and transfer of energy, and the interaction of matter and energy. Some physicists use these principles in theoretical areas, such as the nature of time and the origin of the universe; others apply their physics knowledge to practical areas such as the development of advanced materials, electronic and optical devices, and medical equipment. They often design and perform science-based experiments, using sophisticated equipment, and then attempt to draw useful conclusions from their observations/analysis. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook)

Training / Qualifications

For jobs in basic research and development, a doctoral degree is the usual educational requirement for physicists and astronomers. Holders of bachelor’s degrees work as engineers, analysts, technicians, programmers, or research assistants in a wide variety of industrial environments and STEM fields including scientific and government laboratories, engineering, scientific software development, and non-technical fields. Most physics Ph.D. holders are employed in STEM fields in the private sector and utilize their training for solving complex problems, managing technical projects, or communicating science.  Many physics Ph.D. physicists also become faculty at institutions of higher education. (Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H and American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center)

Job Outlook

Employment of physicists and astronomers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Expected growth in federal government spending for physics and astronomy research should increase the need for physicists and astronomers, especially at colleges and universities and national laboratories. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)

Job Titles

Physicist, Engineer, Scientific Software Developer, Teacher (secondary school), Technician, Research Analyst, Astronomer


Physicists and astronomers (Astronomy is sometimes considered a subfield of physics) held about 26,000 jobs in 2010. Nearly one-third of physicists and astronomers worked for scientific research and development services firms. The Federal Government employed 25 percent, mostly in the U.S. Department of Defense, but also in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and in the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Energy. Other physicists and astronomers worked in colleges and universities in non-faculty, usually research, positions, or for state governments, information technology companies, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing companies, or electronic equipment manufacturers. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)

Significant Points

  • • Scientific research & development services firms and the Federal Government employ 3 out of 5 physicists and astronomers.
  • • Jobs in basic research and development often require a doctoral degree; master’s degree holders qualify for many jobs in applied research and development, while bachelor’s degree holders may qualify as technicians or research assistants.
  • • Employment is expected to grow more slowly than average (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)

Selected Employer Hiring Partners

Argonne National Laboratory, Ball Aerospace, CFD Research Corporation, Corning Tropel, Creative Microsystems, Cypress Semiconductor, Epic Systems, GE Inspection Technologies, ITT Geospatial Systems, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Micron Technologies, Motorola, NASA Glenn Research Center, National Instruments, Naval Research Laboratory,  Optimax, University of Maryland, University of Chicago Center for Data Intensive Science, University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics, US Air Force, US Navy, Welch Allyn.

Contact Us

We appreciate your interest in your career. We will make every effort to help you succeed. Call our office and ask to speak with Mindy Blake, the Career Cervices Coordinator who works with the Physics program. For your convenience, you can access information and services through our web site at

Mindy Blake, Career Services Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 585.475.5467
Rochester Institute of Technology . Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education
Bausch & Lomb Center
57 Lomb Memorial Drive . Rochester NY  14623-5603

Unless otherwise noted, information is based upon data collected by RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education.