Last Updated: May 02, 2021

Natural science as a major

In today's world where people are exploring and trying to find the meeting ground between science and religion, all-natural processes and science - a study in natural science is an excellent option. Students of natural science studies are taught to find quantitative data of this meeting ground through the study of formal sciences and applying them to natural processes.

What does the study include?

The study of the natural sciences has five branches of study, viz. Astronomy, Earth Science, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. These branches have a very minor distinction between them, with various branch studies often overlapping. Here is a brief outline of what a natural science student often studies:

Biology

The study of biology as a natural science helps examine the phenomena of life through living organisms. This includes the study of complex ecologies and the relationship of organisms with their environment.

Chemistry

The study of matter in all its forms is an integral part of natural sciences study. From cells to crystals and metals, their formation and reaction to various elements - all of this comes under the interesting gamut of natural sciences. This also includes a study of metallurgy, including the study of ceramics, metals, artificial polymers, and more.

Physics & Mathematics

As a student of natural science, you can learn the fundamentals forces constituting the universe and their relation with each other. Understanding various physical forces require quantifying principles and logical thinking that is rendered through the study of mathematics.

Astronomy

Combining chemistry, meteorology, mathematics, and physics, students of natural science can study the formation of the universe and its development over the ages. They study the science and life of various natural phenomena outside the Earth's atmosphere, including that of stars, galaxies, planets, comets, etc.

Earth & Atmospheric science

This branch of natural science includes the study of soil, oceans, physical geography of the earth, geology, minerals, meteorology, and everything related to geosciences. Apart from these studies, some colleges also include a study in atmospheric science, sometimes in conjunction with earth science studies, and sometimes as a separate branch of education.

Who should study natural science as a major?

A major in natural science studies is a perfect option for pre-medical, pre-dental, and health professionals who are looking to pursue graduate studies in life sciences, public health, science journalism, and science education.

B.Sc. or B.A. degree

There are at least 80 courses offered in the study of natural science as a major across the United States. While some are offered as a B.Sc. or B.A. course, there are others (like the University of Texas) that offer natural science as an interdisciplinary major course in Arts and Science.

Such a course is especially effective for students looking for a 120-hour degree program and with a wide range of electives to choose from. The B.Sc. or B.A. course is mostly divided in the following manner:

M.Sc. degrees

Students who pursue a master's degree in Natural Science examine the ideas that enable them to describe and clarify the natural world. Graduate studies are one step forward than undergraduate studies, which means that students who enter a graduate program have to be extensively occupied in research of the field they are in.

A graduate degree is comparatively less time-consuming than an undergraduate degree. As mentioned above, undergraduate students must complete 120 credit hours for their degree program, however, graduate students have to complete anywhere between 30 to 60 hours. The number of hours is entirely dependent on the electives and course undertook by the student.

Eligibility

Undergraduate studies

The following is the basic eligibility criterion for students opting to study natural science as a major in undergraduate studies:

Graduate studies

A graduate program in natural sciences includes either an M.Sc. or a Ph.D. Higher studies in natural sciences are especially beneficial for students looking to do a Ph.D. in any branch of natural science, for those looking at research, and for those looking at careers in education.

The following is the basic eligibility criterion for students opting to study natural science as a major in undergraduate studies:

Top Universities for Natural Sciences

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago offers several courses on Natural Sciences, however, the most popular natural sciences courses are B.Sc. in Biological chemistry and B.A. in Physics.

Both the courses are different in nature but come under the category of Natural Science study. Additionally, the courses offer and focus on a practical approach, combining it with theory.

As for a Master's degree in natural sciences, the University of California does not offer one. Instead, the university offers a Ph.D. in astronomy & astrophysics as a part of higher studies in natural sciences.

California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology is another popular destination for pursuing an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences. However, the focus is on two subjects under Natural Sciences - Astronomy and Geochemistry. The California Institute of Technology offers a Bachelor's in each of the above-mentioned subjects.

For both the courses, students get to select one specialization (related to the focus of the subject) and can choose other subjects from a range of electives. However, it is important for students to be mindful of the credit mark, and be careful as to not overload themselves with the electives they choose.

California Institute of Technology offers master's courses in natural sciences, and the courses they offer are an M.Sc. in Biochemistry and an M.Sc. in Chemistry.

Northwestern University

The Northwestern University is situated in Illinois and is arguably one of the most affordable universities for higher studies. Additionally, the courses offered in the field of Natural Sciences by the Northwestern University are unique from what other universities provide.

At the Northwestern University, students can choose between a B.Sc. in Physics & Astronomy or a B.Sc. in Chemistry (this program is also available in B.A.); both the courses are on a full-time basis and are geared towards providing students with a well-rounded experience of being able to practice application of theory. Hence, the university focuses on lab activities and other ways of application during the term of the program.

As for a master's degree, the Northwestern University offers an M.Sc. in Physics. The other subjects are available as Ph.D. degrees.

Duke University

Duke University is well-known for its affordable tuition fee, along with great education and student employment rate. It is of no surprise that Duke University also offers a great course in Natural science - the most popular of them being B.Sc. in Biology Chemistry and B.A. in Physics. It is quite rare to see a degree in Biology Chemistry in the vast field of Natural Science, however, it is by no means a bad choice.

Instead, the courses that Duke university offers open a gate full of opportunities and possibilities for students to be able to mix and match subjects and make their subjective path towards their career. Additionally, students can choose two majors within the courses, and other electives as a part of their degree to enhance their career paths more.

When it comes to a master's degree in natural science, the university offers a unique degree known as an M.Sc. in Electrical & Computer engineering, coupled with Engineering Physics.

Brown University

Brown University is quite popular for its courses on architecture and engineering. Reason being that the university introduces various ways to mix and match subjects to their students, helping them to create a degree that best suits them. When it comes to Natural science, Brown University has the same approach as mentioned above. At Brown, students can choose between either a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or a B.Sc. in Geology Chemistry.

The mix and match of subjects allow students to take up new challenging subjects that would benefit them in the long term or choose subjects that they are most confident in. Usually, biochemistry is popular in biotechnology, however, it may not be every student's cup of tea. Furthermore, Brown university gives the opportunity to students to build a research background while they are studying, giving an edge to students.

Just as the University of Chicago, Brown University does not offer a master's degree in the field of natural studies. However, the university offers a range of Ph.D. programs in the field, ranging from biochemistry to mathematics.

Career prospects

Students majoring in Natural Sciences today have a bright future with a gamut of opportunities opening up. Especially with CERN, the European organization involved in recreating the God particle, making vast progress, career opportunities in natural sciences have begun taking newer dimensions with several specializations coming to the fore.

There are several career options available to students of natural science. However, some of the most popular jobs include:

Environmental scientist

As an environmental scientist, you can be involved in research where you help identify environmental hazards and create solutions. Natural science students working as environmental scientists earn a median salary of about $73,000, annually.

Atmospheric scientist

Earning a median salary of about $99,000 annually. Natural science graduates working as atmospheric scientists are actively involved in gathering information on atmospheric characteristics and their interaction with the environment. This career is especially beneficial to those who have studied meteorology as well.

Food & Agricultural scientist

In the present scenario where there is a scare of food shortage, the food and agricultural scientist helps check agricultural productivity and safety. This important job can earn a scientist an average annual salary of $69,000.

Forester & conservationist scientist

Aiding the protection and development of natural forest resources, this lucrative job of a natural scientist can earn an average annual salary of $65,000.


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