Does Physics Help with Electrical Engineering?


An illustration of an atom with three students inside it represents the bond between studying physics and electrical engineering.

Yes. Studying physics can certainly help with looking to learn more about electrical engineering.  Two questions that are probably more important to ask: How does physics help with electrical engineering? And would it be beneficial to study both?

First, how does it help?

Physics is a fundamental scientific discipline, maybe the most fundamental scientific discipline, depending on whom you ask! The study of physics builds a broad base of knowledge in mathematics and science as a way to understand how the universe works. Studying physics provides students with the kind of problem-solving and logic that, in turn, can be applied to technological advances.

If physics is the general, then electrical engineering is the specific. While earning a physics degree definitely opens doors to an array of job opportunities, adding electrical engineering to the mix will exponentially expand your options.

Electrical engineering provides practical skills. It takes the scientific knowledge and the mathematical complexities and transforms them into innovative ideas and new ways to design and build. But it’s that knowledge of physics that helps the electrical engineer grasp the constraints inherent to a particular problem and allows him or her to develop a practical approach to achieving a solution.

  • Students of physics study everything from classical mechanics and thermodynamics to electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. They master atoms, molecules and statistics.
  • Students of electrical engineering learn about the design of electrical circuitry, including motors, electronic appliances, optical fiber networks, computers and communication links. They investigate how to convert electrical energy to other forms of energy, and dabble in mechanics and thermodynamics.

So it’s two-sided: Concepts of physics help engineers solve complex problems. And engineering applies concepts of physics in an effort to create practical solutions and innovations.

If you’re considering a degree in electrical engineering, you’re bound to beef up your understanding and mastery of the subject with a strong framework in physics.

And electrical engineers already hit the ground running: Median salaries top $100,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and even brand-new grads can expect to pull in more than $65,000 annually. The field is expected to grow by 7% over the next decade as demand for solar arrays, semiconductors and communications technology increases.

Physics and Electrical Engineering Educational Options

Elmhurst University offers two dual-degree engineering options. The first is Elmhurst University’s engineering partnership with the Illinois Institute of Technology. In this program,

you will spend the first two years taking classes at Elmhurst. At the end of your second year, you enroll at IIT where you can choose from the following five engineering disciplines.

  1. Electrical Engineering
  2. Mechanical Engineering
  3. Civil Engineering
  4. Aerospace Engineering
  5. Computer Engineering

For the next three years, you will then take physics and general education (Integrated Curriculum) classes at the Elmhurst campus and engineering classes at the IIT campus near downtown Chicago. At the end of five years, you will graduate with two degrees: a BS in physics from Elmhurst, and a BS in engineering from IIT.

The second dual-degree option is a joint physics-electrical engineering option offered in collaboration with the University of North Dakota. This option is a mix of in-person and online education. While the physics degree is completed, in-person, on the Elmhurst campus, the electrical engineering degree is entirely online. Again, at the end of five years, you graduate with two degrees: a BS in physics from Elmhurst, and a BS in electrical engineering from the University of North Dakota.

Some students prefer a sequential program, first earning an undergraduate physics degree and then earning a master’s degree in an engineering specialty. The physics degree makes you a strong candidate for selection to a master’s program.

Learn more about Elmhurst’s programs by filling in the form below!

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