Physics Department

The Department of Physics offers the Bachelor of Science degree and Bachelor of Arts degrees in physics. Students are expected to declare their major in this area in their freshman year; students in their sophomore year and students in the Florence program, however, can be accommodated by special arrangement with the department.

The Bachelor of Science is designed as a terminal degree.  Students who are considering graduate school studies should plan on taking additional course work.  Students should be able to work out a four-year course of study with their advisor that will satisfy graduate school requirements. Physics majors interested in careers in health sciences should discuss course requirements and potential accommodations with a physics faculty member.

Majors in physics are expected to achieve a familiarity with computer programming.

Students planning on majoring in physics and attending medical school should meet with a Physics faculty member as early as possible to discuss course scheduling and potential course substitutions for particular degree requirements. Students may rather elect to earn a B.A. Physics degree. The basic degree requirements for the B.A. Physics degree are essentially the same as the B.S. Physics degree except that rather than choosing two additional upper division PHYS courses, as the B.S. degree requires, the B.A. degree requires two courses from any area that are agreed to by the department chair. The B.A. physics degree is intended to better allow College of Arts and Sciences students to complete double majors, therefore, students who earn a B.A. Physics degree must also be earning a B.A. degree in another College of Arts and Sciences department.


For students in any physics class:

  • The student will demonstrate the ability to think critically and to use appropriate concepts to analyze qualitatively problems and/or situations involving physics.
  • The student will demonstrate the ability to use appropriate mathematical techniques and concepts to obtain quantitative solutions to problems in physics.
  • Convert a physical situation articulated in English to a mathematical formulation, and then analyze it quantitatively.
  • In courses involving laboratory, the student will demonstrate the ability to collect and analyze data and to prepare coherent reports of his or her findings.

For physics majors in particular:


  • The student will demonstrate the ability to use appropriate calculator and/or computing tools to solve problems encountered in course work or in supervised study.
  • The student will demonstrate the ability to synthesize appropriate concepts and methods from different courses in the solution of problems.  majors will demonstrate deeper understanding, and more complex problem solving skills with particular emphasis in the fundamental areas of classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and electromagnetism.
  • If working on a research project, the student will demonstrate the ability to perform a literature search, to make use of appropriate computational and/or laboratory skills, and to make an effective written and/or oral presentation of the results of the project.
  • The student will be able to design and carry out experimental investigations, analyze data with appropriate treatment of errors and uncertainties, and form conclusions based on the data and analysis.
  • Students will communicate physics concepts, processes, results, and issues effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Students will be successful in pursuing graduate studies in physics, pursuing professional studies, or obtaining employment in a scientific environment.

More information is available on the department's website at: Physics Department Home Page