Department of Physics and Astronomy

Undergraduate Program

Why study Physics and Astronomy?

Orion nebula as seen by Hubble Space TelescopePhysics is the study of the fundamental patterns of nature and the structure of matter, and astronomy applies physics to study the universe and its origins. In short, the study of physics & astronomy allows us to address the age-old questions, “how do things work?” and “where do we come from?” Physics forms the basis for other sciences and much of our technology. Additionally, an understanding of physics plays a crucial role in addressing many important challenges such as energy production, semiconductor technology, and climate change.

Our Physics and Astronomy Programs

Due to the diversity of its faculty and strong emphasis on undergraduate research the Department of Physics & Astronomy provides an excellent opportunity for pursuing an undergraduate education. Our programs for majors combine the equipment and research opportunities of a large department with the small classes and strong student-faculty interactions of a smaller department. The department offers a variety of degrees with concentrations in physics, applied physics, biomedical physics, and astrophysics. 

  • B.A. - The Bachelor's of Arts (B.A.) degree provides a strong background in basic physics and astronomy while also allowing flexibility for students to customize their undergraduate education. This is a good choice for those who are interested in pursuing technical careers in a variety of fields such as engineering, computers, manufacturing, military, and teaching. The department offers a BA in physics and in astronomy. Degree requirements for: (a) Fall 2015 catalog entry or earlier (b) Fall 2016 catalog entry or later

  • B.S. - The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) includes more research and technical experience and is the best choice for those who want to continue to graduate school and focus on a research career. The department has four different concentrations for the BS: physics, applied physics, biomedical physics, and astronomy. Degree requirements for: (a) Fall 2015 catalog entry or earlier (b) Fall 2016 catalog entry or later

  • Honors in Physics & Astronomy - Qualified juniors and seniors may be invited to work for the citation "Honors in Physics and Astronomy."

  • Summary of all degree requirements for: (a)  Fall 2015 catalog entry or earlier (b) Fall 2016 catalog entry or later

  • Minor - The department also offers a minor which gives students a basic background and allows them to explore a particular topic of interest. The department offers three different minors: physics, astronomy, and renewable energy.
For descriptions of each class please see our list of physics classes and astronomy classes.


Graduate student working the labIn addition to providing a strong education in physics and astronomy, our programs educate students in the areas of critical thinking, modeling, design and development. This training is valuable for an increasing variety of careers as our technology changes at an increasing rate. Our majors are employed in a wide range of professional settings, including many industry positions which do not have “physics” or “astronomy” in the title. Department graduates are employed by the government, universities and colleges, hospitals, observatories, planetariums, and museums. Majors have also gone into financial analysis, patent law, ecology, crime scene investigation, and scientific journalism. For more information see the P&A Career Opportunities page.

Last Updated: 1/8/17