By earning an online associate degree in physics, you gain the core math and science knowledge needed to transfer into bachelor's programs in engineering, computer science, and other related fields. This guide helps you pick the two-year program that best suits your schedule, academic interests, and career goals.

This guide covers admission requirements, program structure, and courses in online associate degrees in physics. It also provides information about career opportunities and frequently asked questions.

What are the best physics programs of 2020? Here are our top four:

Rank School Location
1 Allen County Community College Iola, KS
2 East Mississippi Community College Scooba, MS
3 Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville, MS
4 San Bernardino Valley College San Bernardino, CA

Although you may be able to get entry-level laboratory assistant jobs with an online associate degree in physics, this degree is more commonly used to transfer into four-year programs. Many two-year colleges partner with state universities to deliver guaranteed pathways toward bachelor's degrees.

Physics students typically specialize in either an engineering or computer science/information technology field. Possible careers include applicants engineer, research associate, and web developer.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read more about our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Physics Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Allen County Community College

Iola, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 38%

Founded in 1923 in Iola, Kansas, Allen County Community College offers a variety of practical online programs, including an online associate degree in physics.

The 67-credit online associate of science with a concentration in physics takes two years to complete. Pre-engineering students satisfy most of their general education requirements. Course topics include engineering physics, calculus with analytic geometry, and college chemistry. Learners are prepared to transfer to an engineering or physics bachelor’s program at any of several four-year universities in the Kansas Boards of Regents, such as Emporia State University.

The school gives all online students free access to online tutoring services through NetTutor. Allen holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


East Mississippi Community College

Scooba, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

Established as an agricultural high school in 1927, East Mississippi Community College offers a variety of online associate programs for students preparing to transfer to a regional four-year institution.

The 60-credit online associate degree in physics is offered as a concentration in its math and science division. Course topics for the concentration include differential equations, calculus, and general chemistry. Students must also complete an introductory computer programming course that can help them transfer to computer science-related majors.

The school requires a 2.0 minimum GPA to graduate. EMCC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Northeast Mississippi Community College

Booneville, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 31%

Booneville’s Northeast Mississippi Community College serves a student body of over 7,000 through on-campus and online transfer and vocational programs, including an online associate degree in physics.

The 62-credit online associate of arts in physics takes two years to complete. The program articulates with bachelor’s programs at many nearby four-year universities, including Mississippi State University. Course topics include general physics, general chemistry, and calculus. Many pre-engineering students at Northeast also take advantage of the school’s technology-related professional certifications, which include a certificate in robotics programming.

Online learners access coursework through Canvas. The school offers all learners free access to online tutoring through NetTutor. Northeast holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


San Bernardino Valley College

San Bernardino, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 18%

San Bernardino Valley College’s online programs maintain a high reputation among two-year institutions in California, as distance education courses boast retention and success rates exceeding the state average. This academic rigor attracts future STEM transfer students to SBVC’s online associate degree in physics.

The 60-credit online associate of arts in physics takes two years to complete, and is delivered as a concentration available from the mathematics and science division. Required course topics include modern physics, single variable calculus, and multivariable calculus. The program also features an advanced chemistry course sequence for honors students separate from the regular chemistry sequence.

Online learners access asynchronously-formatted coursework through Canvas online. SBVC holds regional accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

Online Associate in Physics Program Overview

To earn an online associate degree in physics, you need to complete at least 60 credits of coursework. This process generally takes two years, but you can graduate faster by enrolling in accelerated programs that offer shorter courses year-round. If you have previous college credits or professional experience, transfer programs also let you graduate more quickly.

Read on to learn more about five common courses in a typical online physics curriculum.

Common Associate in Physics Degree Courses

General Chemistry

This foundational course covers the structure and composition of matter and the changes that matter undergoes. Topics include elements, physical states, compounds, and chemical reactions. This course may also introduce organic chemistry and biochemistry and usually includes a lab component.


Physics majors often complete a two-course sequence in calculus. The first course generally examines calculus functions of one independent variable, covering limits, continuity, derivatives, and basic integration. In the second course, students explore multivariable calculus and its applications to real-world problems.

English Composition

In this core course, students learn essentials of the writing process, including prewriting, planning, and drafting. They examine the importance of word and style awareness as well as clear sentence structure and organization.

Introduction to Physics

This algebra-based course helps students understand fundamental concepts like forces, momentum, energy, electricity, and magnetism. Learners also examine Newton's Laws in relation to kinematics, gravitation, and thermodynamics. This course usually includes a lab component.

Engineering Physics

This course covers mechanics and heat. Learners also explore motion in one, two, and three dimensions as well as energy and conservation laws. This course usually includes a lab component.

Online Associate in Physics Admission Requirements

  • High School Diploma

    To enroll in an associate program, you need a high school diploma or GED. Depending on the school, you may need to submit official paper copies of your transcripts.

  • GPA Minimum

    Most community colleges do not require applicants to meet a GPA threshold if they are pursuing a certificate or associate degree. However, some two-year schools and many four-year universities do maintain a minimum requirement.

  • Placement Test

    Community and technical colleges typically require you to sit for an entrance exam to determine what English and math courses you should take. ACCUPLACER is one of the most common placement tests. Many schools waive this entrance requirement if you submit ACT or SAT scores.

  • Personal Statement

    A personal statement allows you to stand out from other prospective students. Colleges often ask you to respond to a general prompt related to your academic history, personal qualities, and professional objectives.

  • Residency Requirement

    Most colleges ask you to confirm residency to pursue an online associate degree in physics. Residency also factors into how much you pay for tuition and your eligibility for financial aid.

Online Associate in Physics Career Paths

Most students who earn an online associate degree in physics go on to bachelor's and master's programs. With additional training, you can work as a mechanical engineer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mechanical engineers earn a median annual salary higher than $88,000.

A physics background also allows you to gain entry into the IT field as a systems or data analyst. You can also use your specialized skills to begin a software development career. The BLS projects that software developers should benefit from a 21% job growth rate between 2018 and 2028.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a physics degree hard?

Difficulty is relative and based on your academic strengths and work ethic. Physics curricula center on mathematics, meaning you need to grasp core concepts in algebra and calculus to successfully complete major coursework. You can receive free tutoring at most colleges.

Is physics a good degree?

The quality of a degree depends on your academic interests and career goals. As one of the major fields of scientific inquiry, physics allows you to pursue careers in the government, nonprofit, and private sectors. Physics graduates can also work in research and academia.

What kind of jobs do physics majors get?

You can work as a dedicated researcher or postsecondary teacher by earning a graduate physics degree. Bachelor's in physics graduates can find entry-level jobs developing in fields like manufacturing, healthcare, and sustainable engineering.

How much do physics majors make?

Salary potential depends on your location and specific occupation. According to the BLS, engineers make a median annual salary of $91,010, while computer and information technology professionals earn a median annual salary of around $88,000.

Are physicists in demand?

BLS projects that the number of physicist positions should grow by 9% between 2018 through 2028. However, this career requires a doctorate in physics.

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Additional Reading and Resources

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