How much does it cost to become a physicist?

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Jun 08 2023

If you’re interested in physics, qualifying as a physicist is a chance for you to explore that interest further, but how much does it cost to qualify?


What is a physicist?

A physicist studies the Earth and the universe. They observe natural phenomena like photosynthesis and disease progression, in order to understand how the universe works. From the data collected, they can understand how said phenomena might work in different situations. These theories are used as the basis for new technologies, such as the development of solar panels and robotics.

As a physicist, you’ll typically specialise in an area that interests you. For example, medical physicists design and develop medical apparatus to improve patient outcomes, while biophysicists study how biological systems are affected by the laws of physics. 

How do I become a physicist?

To become a physicist, you’ll often need an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification in a STEM subject. Although postgraduate study isn’t necessary, doing a master’s or equivalent apprenticeship opens up a range of opportunities, and can lead to a higher salary. If you’d like to delve even further into your chosen specialism, or would like to become a lecturer, you’ll need a PhD. 

How much does it cost to qualify as a physicist?

Completing an undergraduate degree normally costs £9,250 a year for home students, totalling £27,750 for a three-year degree. If you’d like to complete a master’s, the majority of physics masters cost between £10,000-£15,000. PhD students can expect to pay between £3,000-£6,000 annually, meaning a three-year PhD costs between £9,000-£18,000. Note that many PhDs can take longer to complete, depending on how long your research takes and how long it takes to write your thesis. Furthermore, none of these figures take into account research costs and general living expenses.

How can I afford to qualify as a physicist?


Completing an apprenticeship is a great way to gain practical work experience, and avoid having to pay any tuition fees. As an apprentice, you’ll spend a minimum of 20% of your time at training, and the rest of your time gaining paid work experience. 

Thanks to the apprenticeship levy, all of your tuition fees and exam costs are paid for. The Level 6 Healthcare Science Practitioner apprenticeship is equivalent to an undergraduate degree, and is an excellent option for medical physicists. Alternatively, the Level 7 Research Scientist apprenticeship is equivalent to a master’s degree, and allows aspiring physicists to gain practical research skills. 


A number of different organisations offer financial support for those interested in further study. The UK government offers loans for undergraduate, master’s and PhD students, which don’t have to be repaid until you’re earning above a certain amount. Many universities and independent organisations offer grants for both international and home students. Many of these cover the cost of tuition fees, as well as a stipend for living expenses, and you don’t need to repay anything.