If you are deciding between majoring in physics or computer science, you might want to know more about what each major has to offer. This post will show you the key facts about each major and help you to decide which would be a better degree for you.

Quick overview:

Computer sciencePhysics
Payscale reported
Average pay
Ease of finding a jobGoodModerate
Types of jobs
you can qualify for
Software Engineer
Software developer
Web developer
App developer
Data scientist
Data analyst
Software engineer
Data scientist
Data analyst
Mechanical engineer
Difficulty of the
Key things to noteA very employable
degree with just a
bachelor’s degree.

A well paying degree.

Can give you access to
data science and
machine learning roles
if you choose the right
Not very employable
with just physics degree
by itself unless you take
applied electives.

Many of the more
physics oriented jobs
will require at least
a master’s degree.

Combining the degree
with an applied minor
such as computer science
will improve your job
Source for physics pay and jobs
Source for CS salary and jobs

As you can see from the table, there are many similarities between the two degrees. However, there are many things to consider when choosing between them.

Details about a degree in computer science

Below are some of the key details of the computer science major.

Current pay

According to Payscale, the average salary of someone with a bachelor’s in computer science is $85,235. This makes computer science one of the best paying degrees that are available.

With that being said, a lot of these jobs will be in high cost of living areas so the wages might be slightly inflated by that.

Many of the alternative degrees to computer science will also have high average salaries. However, not only is computer science one of the best paying degrees but it also puts you in a good position with just a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, many of the alternatives require a master’s degree to be competitive when seeking a job.

Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for

There are many different types of jobs that a computer science degree will open you up to. These can include:

  • Software engineer
  • Database administrator
  • Data scientist
  • Machine learning engineer
  • Application developer
  • Web developer
  • Computer systems administrator

Most CS majors will end up taking jobs as a software engineer which is one of the highest rated jobs available. When interviewing for these roles, you will be tested mainly on algorithms and data structures which you’ll learn about during your time in the degree. Make sure to be very comfortable with algorithms and data structures when interviewing.

Data science is another career that is becoming popular among CS majors. If you want to get a job in data science, it would help to take classes in data analysis and machine learning, to learn Python programming, and to complete data science projects. A CS degree combined with classes relevant to data science should put you in a good position to get data science and software engineering jobs.

How difficult it is as a major

Generally, computer science is considered as one of the easier STEM majors and most people would agree that it is easier than a physics major. With that being said, the major will require a lot of work, at times, especially in your junior and senior years.

Types of classes you will study

Classes that you can expect to take include:

Data structures
Assembly language
Computer architecture
Computer networks

You can also expect to take some mathematics classes including:

Linear algebra
Discrete math

In addition, you will have the choice to take other computer science classes as electives as a part of your degree requirements.

Some classes that you might have the choice of taking could also include

Machine learning
Artificial intelligence
Computer graphics
Computer networks

Important things to be aware of when taking the degree

Before you start taking the degree, it would be very important to consider what you think you would like to do with the degree. This is so that you will be able to optimize your classes according to what you hope to achieve with the degree.

If your goal is to get into data science or machine learning type roles, it would be important to make sure to take machine learning classes, to do machine learning projects, to take classes in data analysis and to take some statistics classes.

Whereas, if your goal is to get a job as a software engineer, it would be more important to take classes that focus on algorithms and systems architecture type classes.

If you think that you want to go to graduate school, it would be important to take up research opportunities and to take classes related to what you think you would like to research as a grad student.

More details about the computer science major

I have written more about the computer science major here and I have written more about how hard you can expect the major to be here.

Details about a physics degree

Below are some details about a degree in physics.

Current pay

According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a bachelor’s degree in physics is $86,600. This is very close to the reported pay of people with computer science degrees.

However, something to be aware of is that the average pay of someone fresh out of college with no work experience will likely be a lot lower than that.

On average, the job opportunities for someone graduating with a CS degree will likely be higher than the job opportunities with a BSc in physics.

Job opportunities

A physics degree can give access to a wide range of job opportunities. However, a physics degree can be quite general in nature and it can be difficult to find a job with just a bachelor’s degree in physics. However, this will depend a lot on the classes that you choose to take. You can also greatly improve your job prospects by minoring in something more applied such as computer science, completing programming projects and getting summer internships.

Jobs that you could get with a bachelor’s degree in physics could include:

Software engineer
Data scientist
Data analyst
Mechanical engineer

Physics can give good job opportunities if you combine it with more practical skills. Currently, data science is a popular career path for physics majors. If you are interested in data science, it would help to learn programming, data analysis, machine learning to complete data science projects and to take a number of computer science classes including data structures and algorithms.

Another popular career path is a software engineer. To get these jobs, it would help to take a number of computer science classes, to learn programming in languages such as javascript and Python and to complete software engineering projects such as to create a web app.


A physics degree can also be a very difficult degree and you will have to put a lot of time into the degree. Overall, you should expect the degree to require more time than a CS degree.


You can expect to take math classes such as:

Differential calculus
Integral calculus
Multivariate calculus
Differential equations
Linear algebra
Partial differential equations

In addition you can expect to have the option to take more math classes if you would like. You might also have the option to take some classes from related disciplines such as statistics, engineering and computer science.

You can also expect to take multiple physics classes including:

Introduction to physics
Mechanics and waves
Electricity and magnetism
Quantum physics
Statistical mechanics

You can look here to see an example of required classes in a physics degree.

Reasons to choose a computer science degree

As mentioned above, generally, you can expect to have better job prospects with a BSc in computer science when compared with just a BSc in physics. If you also take classes related to specific job roles, complete projects and do internships, your job prospects will be even better.

Also, CS degrees are usually easier than physics. This should mean that you will have the ability to spend more time working on projects, applying to jobs and internships and completing research projects.

Reasons to choose a physics degree

Physics can also be a very interesting subject and many students really enjoy their time in the major. Also, the mathematics used in undergraduate physics tends to be more applied and not proof-heavy which most students prefer. If you enjoy computational/applied mathematics, it is likely that you will enjoy your time in the major.

If you are planning on going to graduate school, in physics, then physics would also be a good option for undergrad. However, in this case, it would likely help to take more math classes since graduate-level physics will make use of more advanced math.

While a physics degree will not usually give as many job opportunities as a CS degree, it can still give you a lot of opportunities depending on the classes you take. It would help to consider what you would like to do after graduating and to make sure to take classes related to that.

Combining physics with a computer science minor could be a good option since many physics students get programming roles after graduating. This should help to give you good job prospects upon graduating while still allowing you to study physics if that is what you are most interested in.


I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.