Major in physics
Physicists and astronomers conduct theoretical, experimental, and computational studies to explore the fundamental properties and laws that govern space, time, energy, and matter on scales ranging from atoms to the universe.
As a physicist, you can investigate the structure of the atom, design and program computers, solve environmental problems, and develop new manufacturing materials. Physicists lead some of the world's major technology companies and research institutes, paving the way for technological innovations such as lasers, solar cells, electric cars, medical diagnostics, and computers.
The powerful array of technical skills you'll acquire as a physics major will prepare you for a career in many areas of theoretical and applied science. You'll be ready to assume leadership roles in industry, business, and government or explore the fields of materials science, biophysics, geophysics, oceanography, and medical physics. Within a year of graduation, 95% of physics majors are either in graduate school or employed.
The Physics Department also offers a bachelor's of science degree in physics with a concentration in astronomy and astrophysics.
We also offer teacher preparation for students who are interested in teaching physics at the high school level. Learn more about teacher preparation
Our curriculum covers all of the core fields of physics: classical and quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, modern physics and relativity, optics, thermodynamics, and solid state physics.
As a physics major, you will:
- apply critical thinking, computer, and electronic skills to solve problems
- develop the mathematical analysis and technical writing skills potential sought by employers
- train in advanced laboratory techniques, computer simulation, and numerical modeling
The bachelor of science degree requires a minimum of 45 credits in physics courses with 120 credits overall.
During your senior year, you will complete a capstone project, engaging in research with a faculty member on a topic in frontier research.
Astronomy/Astrophysics concentration: explore your interest in the universe by choosing the astronomy/astrophysics concentration. You'll learn the observational and analytical methods astronomers use to study the cosmos, as well as the physics behind celestial phenomena.
Additional focus areas are available to suit a range of student interest, including computational physics, climate physics, and applied physics.
William talks about the benefits of faculty mentorship, leadership roles, and collaborative research.
- Fermi National Accelerator Lab
- Harvard Center for Astrophysics
- Southern Light Solar
- University of Washington at Seattle
Graduate school placements
- Duke University
- The George Washington University
- University of California, Davis
- University of Colorado Boulder
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Notre Dame
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- MIT Lincoln Laboratory
- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
- Textron Systems
Entry-level salary range:$50,000
Private sector STEM: aip.org/statistics - Spring 2021
- Experience: participate in internship programs to gain valuable experience with regional industries, often while also earning money for college
- Community: join organizations such as the Physics Club, the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and Engineers Without Borders
- New initiatives: collaborate, create, and explore at our IDEAStudio and the Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research
- Capstone projects: students work on capstone projects, engaging with faculty members on research topics
- Teacher preparation: Graduate with a bachelor's degree in Physics, a master's degree in teaching (MAT), and a Sheltered English Immersion endorsement that is required to instruct English Language Learners.
- Honors College: take advanced courses, pursue research, and be part of a community of scholars
- Study Abroad: earn academic credits and gain a global perspective on your field
- Undergraduate Research: faculty work with students on cutting-edge research projects
- University Studies: gain the benefit of a broad university education to enhance your knowledge and skills
- MS in Physics: expand your career options with a master's degree in physics.
- PhD in Engineering and Applied Science: emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of modern research at the interfaces of engineering, the applied sciences, and technology.
- Teacher preparation: Your path to become a middle or high school teacher in Physics.