Physics at the College of Arts and Science is a multidimensional discipline. The department offers several tracks of study designed for preprofessional students as well as aspiring physicists. A detailed curriculum is worked out for each student, with individual attention to progress and career plans.
The physics major may participate in internationally recognized research activities carried out by the faculty. Some major areas of specialization include atomic physics, elementary particle physics, astrophysics, and condensed matter physics.
In addition to technical physics courses, the department offers a wide range of general interest courses intended to broaden the scientific background of nonscience majors.
The Department of Physics offers several programs for majors in physics, leading to either the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree. A minor in physics and a minor in astronomy are also offered. The B.A. major is particularly well suited for preprofessional and other students who, while not planning careers in physics, would like to have the benefits and background of an undergraduate major in physics. The B.A. intensive major is for students who plan to continue their study of physics in graduate school or who intend to work in physics or related fields. The BS major is for students who wish some breadth in the sciences.
Physics is the most highly developed of the natural sciences. For this reason, it is frequently taken as the exemplar of the scientific method, the model for other quantitative sciences. Those trained in physics are found in many occupations. A higher degree opens the possibility of creative research in industry, or teaching and research in colleges and universities. Men and women with degrees in physics often are employed in various fields of engineering. Undergraduate training in physics is valuable preparation for careers in medicine and dentistry, computer technology, environmental and earth sciences, communications, and science writing. It is fairly common for those planning research careers in molecular biology, chemical physics, or astronomy to major in physics while undergraduates. Because of their physical intuition, ability to develop abstract models, and expertise in quantitative reasoning, physicists are frequently members of interdisciplinary groups engaged in studying problems not directly related to physics.