Departments & Programs


Major in Physics—B.S.

The B.S. in Physics provides focused training for students interested in graduate study and include a formalized thesis and internship. Students develop a sound foundation in the study of matter and energy, including their nature and properties. Students learn theoretical and experimental approaches including Newtonian mechanics, oscillations, and waves, bulk properties of matter and thermodynamics. Upper-level courses focus on modern, environmental and theoretical physics, materials science, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, radiation science, analog and digital electronics. At all levels, physics courses combine lectures and labs, and Physics majors gain hands-on experience using advanced instruments and computing systems. Those students wishing to continue their physics studies in graduate school are encouraged to take the traditional Physics program.

Students interested in pursuing high-tech jobs immediately after graduation are excellent candidates for the Applied Physics program. The Applied Physics program substitutes a more rigorous laboratory program and coursework in the applied aspects of physics for some of the traditional upper-level, theoretical courses. The centerpiece of the Applied Physics program is two three-month internships in a corporate or national laboratory setting.

Required Courses

Students must complete the following requirements:

  1. Writing, same as B.A. degree (English Composition and Intensive Writing).
  2. Mathematics, major fulfills requirement.
  3. Foreign language, 3 credit hours at or above the second-year level (or equivalent proficiency) in one language. French, German, or Russian is recommended for students who wish to pursue a graduate degree.
  4. Arts and humanities, two courses for 6 credit hours minimum.
  5. Social and historical studies, two courses for 6 credit hours minimum.
  6. Natural and mathematical sciences: must include one Natural Science course in fulfillment of the General Education curriculum, which can be combined with the math foundation courses required by the major.
  7. One Critical Approaches course.
  8. One Public Oral Communication course.

Culture courses are not required, but two courses are recommended as electives or to satisfy the Breadth of Inquiry requirement.

Students must also complete the major requirements for Program I or Program II .