Physics is the study of the most fundamental properties of matter and energy.

The physics program has been designed with the recognition that a student might choose to concentrate in physics for a variety of reasons. In addition to meeting the needs of those planning to continue their physics education in graduate school, the program serves students planning to pursue technical careers immediately after graduation, those seeking to enter medical, dental or other professional schools, and those planning to earn certification as teachers.

After completing a core curriculum in physics and mathematics and an introduction to the life and other physical sciences, students have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in basic and applied physics research. Most advanced students are able to participate in the research projects of faculty members during any of three University terms. Similar experiences may be arranged in hospital, industrial or government research facilities in the area.

The physics faculty have concentrated their efforts in atomic physics, condensed matter physics, biophysics and astrophysics. Physics concentrators have worked in these areas and also on projects in the interdisciplinary application of physics in medicine and the environment.

Physics Discipline Chair: Dr. Jim Hetrick
Concentration Advisor: Dr. Jin Wang

Degree Requirements

Learn more about CASL Degree Requirements.

    1. Demand a minimum of 120 credit hours of courses with a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or better.
    2. Demand a minimum, cumulative grade point average of 2.00 in all upper division courses in physics.
    3. Demand a minimum of 48 credit hours of upper division courses (numbered 300 or above).  Note that 38 credit hours of this 48 are satisfied by the physics concentration and cognate requirements.
    4. Permit a maximum of 44 credit hours total of courses in physics.

    CASL and campus distribution for science students

    (excluding math and science)

    32 Cr. Hrs.

    Physics prerequisites


    Physics concentration requirements


    Physics cognates


    Electives (including 10 upper level credit hours)



    120 Cr. Hrs.

  • Freshman

    Fall Cr Hrs Winter Cr Hrs
    TOTAL 17 TOTAL 15
    Chemistry 134 or 136 4 Chemistry 144 or 146 4
    Mathematics 115 4 Mathematics 116 4
    Composition 105 3 Composition 106 3
    Distribution 6 Physics 150 4


    Fall Cr Hrs Winter Cr Hrs
    TOTAL 15 TOTAL 16
    Physics 151 4 Physics 305 3
    Mathematics 215 4 Mathematics 216 3
    Foreign Language 4 Math 227 3
    Distribution 3 Foreign Language 4
    Biol. 130 or 140 4 Distribution 3


    Fall Cr Hrs Winter Cr Hrs
    TOTAL 16-17 TOTAL 13
    Physics 360 4 Physics 403 3
    Physics 401 3 Physics 460 3
    Physics Elective 3-4 Physics Elective 3
    Distribution 6 Cognate 4


    Fall Cr Hrs Winter Cr Hrs
    TOTAL 16-17 TOTAL 15
    Physics 406 4 Physics 460, 495 or 499 3
    Physics 453 3 Physics Elective 3
    Physics Elective 3-4 Electives 9
    Cognate 3    
    Electives 3    
    1. Overview: Acquire a global view of the nature and scope of physics.
      • Understand physics as a way of thinking, including its physical, conceptual, analytical, philosophical, and numerical modes of thought.
      • Understand how the different fields of physics are organized into a single whole. Understand the connection between the parts and the relation between theory and experiment.
      • Know and appreciate the historical evolution of physics and natural philosophy.
      • Understand the role of physics in science, society, and technology.
    2. Principles: Understand the fundamental principles (laws, postulates, axioms) of physics.
      • Dynamical Laws: Classical mechanics (Newton) and quantum mechanics (Schrödinger).
      • Statistical Laws: Thermodynamics, energy, entropy, and probability (Boltzmann).
      • Fields and Quanta: Electromagnetic field (Maxwell) and photons (Einstein).
      • Conservation Laws: Mass-energy and momentum.
      • Space-time Laws: Relativity (Einstein).
    3. Applications: Apply the fundamental principles (classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical and thermal physics, quantum mechanics) to a variety of natural phenomena.
      • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
      • Statistical and Condensed Matter Physics
      • Astronomy and Astrophysics
      • Mathematical and Computational Physics
      • Nuclear and Particle Physics
      • Biological, Chemical, and Environmental Physics
      • Physics Education
    4. Theory: Analyze and solve theoretical problems.
      • Understand and utilize the mathematical tools commonly used by physicists, including calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, Fourier analysis, and numerical methods.
      • Understand and appreciate the guiding principles used in formulating theories of the physical world, including linearity, symmetry, simplicity, and universality.
      • Develop the skills, or modes of thinking, that characterize the “art” of theoretical physics, including modeling, estimation, approximation, dimensional analysis, and limiting cases.
    5. Experiment: Conduct and design laboratory experiments.
      • Demonstrate the ability to perform standard experiments and reach valid conclusions.
      • Demonstrate the ability to design the experimental procedure and the method of analysis for a new experiment and to carry it to a successful conclusion.
      • Understand, utilize, design, and construct scientific instruments and data-collection systems for the experimental study of physics.
      • Know how to use a variety of techniques to organize, display, and analyze experimental data.
    6. Communication: Collaborate on projects. Write and present scientific papers.
      • Work effectively in groups to solve problems, perform experiments, and conduct research.
      • Write acceptable laboratory reports, scientific essays, and journal articles.
      • Make effective poster and oral presentations on technical subjects.