Major in Physics

The Department of Physics offers two undergraduate degree programs: the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Physics, and the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physics.

Bachelor of Arts in Physics Degree (BA)
The BA degree provides a broad coverage of classical and modern physics while permitting a broader liberal arts education. It is normally selected by students who do not envision a professional career in physics, but plan to enter a professional school later in their academic career, e.g. medicine, dentistry, law, or who desire to pursue a teaching certificate.

Bachelor of Science in Physics Degree (BS)
The BS degree in Physics is designed to prepare students for a scientific careers immediately upon graduation or for further training in graduate school. Students pursuing either these degrees can receive a broad education in physics or choose to specialize in different areas: condensed matter physics, optics, computational physics, biological physics, astronomy, and others.

Bachelor of Science in Physics with an Emphasis in Astronomy
Students interested in astronomy may choose to pursue a BS in Physics with an Emphasis in Astronomy. For this option, students must take the same required courses as the students pursuing a regular BS degree and take four (4) of the physics electives in astronomy. One of the 4 required astronomy electives is Astronomy 3010, Introduction to Astrophysics. If successfully completed, the emphasis in astronomy will be recorded on the student’s diploma.

Bachelor of Science in Physics with an Emphasis in Materials Science
Students interested in materials science may choose to pursue a BS in Physics with an Emphasis in Materials Science. For this option, students must take the same required courses as the students pursuing a regular BS degree, take Physics 4620, Introduction to Materials Science, and three additional physics electives (3 courses) from the list below:

  • Physics 4190: Physics and Chemistry of Materials
  • Physics 4230: Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysis
  • Physics 4400: The Physics of Electronic Devices
  • Physics 4410: Analysis of Biological Macromolecules and Biomaterials
  • Physics 4600: Semiconductor Optics
  • Physics 4620: Introduction to Materials Science (this course is required)
  • Physics 4650: Modern Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics 4950: Undergraduate Research in Physics (with approval)
  • Physics 4960: Senior Thesis (with approval)

With approval, one materials science related course may be taken from outside the physics program. Only courses with a grade of C- or above will be counted toward the emphasis area.

Bachelor of Science in Physics with an Emphasis in Biological Physics
Students interested in biological physics may choose to pursue a BS in Physics with an Emphasis in Biological Physics. For this option, students must take the same required courses as the students pursuing a regular BS degree, take Physics 4520, Introduction to Biophysics, and three additional physics electives (3 courses) from the list below:

  • Physics 4190: Physics and Chemistry of Materials
  • Physics 4310: Physics in Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Physics 4410: Analysis of Biological Macromolecules and Biomaterials
  • Physics 4420: Introduction to Biomedical Imaging
  • Physics 4500: Computational Biological Physics
  • Physics 4510: Single Molecule Biophysics
  • Physics 4520: Introduction to Biophysics (this course is required)
  • Physics 4950: Undergraduate Research in Physics (with approval)
  • Physics 4960: Senior Thesis (with approval)

Only courses with a grade of C- or above will be counted toward the emphasis area.

Dual Degrees/Double Majors
Students may wish to pursue two baccalaureate degrees simultaneously (dual degree option) or a single baccalaureate degree with two areas of concentration (double majors). In order to receive two baccalaureate degrees a student must complete a minimum of 130 credit hours and complete all the specified requirements for both degrees.

Physics and Electrical Engineering dual degree
Physics and Science Education dual degree
Physics and Mathematics double major
Physics and Economics double major
Physics and Statistics double major

BS in Physics with a minor in another discipline
Students pursuing a major in Physics may also consider pursuing a minor in a different area, for example medical and health physics, nuclear engineering, radioenvironmental sciences, aerospace engineering, computer science, information technology, and many others. For minor requirements see the website of the department offering the minor.

Graduating with Honors in Physics
The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers an Honors  Program leading to the bachelor’s degree with the notation “BS in Physics with Honors” on both the diploma and transcript. The purpose of the departmental Honors Program in Physics and Astronomy is to provide exceptional students with an opportunity to develop skills beyond that of the normal course work and to acknowledge those students who have attained a level of achievement above and beyond what is normally expected of an undergraduate Physics major. Students are not required to be enrolled in the MU Honors College to participate.

Eligibility for Acceptance into the Honors Program

  1. Completion or current enrollment in at least 16 credit hours of coursework in Physics
  2. Cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher

Students must complete the “Honors Program Application” and submit it to the Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to be accepted in the Honors program. Once accepted and a mentor/adviser is selected, student should make sure to satisfy the following criteria for receiving the Honors in Physics distinction:

  1. satisfy the BA or BS degree requirements
  2. cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 and minimum GPA of 3.50 in Physics Department courses
  3. complete a six credit hours research sequence, by signing up for Physics/Astronomy 4950 Undergraduate Research in Physics/Astronomy in the first (second) semester junior year and for Physics/Astronomy 4960 Senior Thesis (or Physics/Astronomy 4950 again) in the first (second) semester senior year. In Physics/Astronomy 4950 students will work on a research project, either by doing research in a lab or by doing reading research and completing specific readings under the supervision of a faculty adviser.
  4. present the results of the research project in a poster or in a paper prepared in the form of a scientific journal article at a regional or national meeting, to a faculty panel that will consist of no fewer than three Physics Department faculty members, or in a physics seminar.

The Honors Program emphasizes close interaction between motivated students and talented professors. Participants explore course content in depth, develop their abilities to learn and think independently, sharpen their analytical, research and discussion skills and empower their writing.

In order for the student to receive departmental honors recognition, the student must be recommended by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Upon recommendation, the Registrar will be notified that the candidate has earned departmental honors recognition. This acknowledgement will appear on the student’s diploma as well as on his/her transcript. In your last semester of studies before graduation, please let the Director of Undergraduate Studies know if you satisfy the honors requirements so you can be recommended for the honors recognition.

Department of Physics

The Department of Physics offers physics majors the opportunity to conduct research under the supervision of a faculty as part of their undergraduate experience.