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College of Arts & Sciences

Physics

120

Semester Hours

Top 20

Lowest unemployment rate

1:3

Faculty to Student ratio

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Physics is the study of matter, energy, motion, and force. Many students study physics because they enjoy it, and they find that physics is exciting and intellectual stimulating.  Physics majors develop the problem-solving and analytic skills that many employers value, allowing many of our graduates to enter the workforce directly, while some of our graduates continue their studies with graduate work in physics or related areas.

Careers

Grow Your Future

Physics majors have a remarkably wide range of career options which include academics, industry and even finance. A physics education provides a unique way of looking at problems that many employers value, a marketable set of skills, and foundational knowledge on which it is easy to build new knowledge as one’s career evolves over time.  Physics majors who get hired into positions with engineering or computer science job titles get the same salary as those who earned a bachelor’s degree in those fields.  If you have a physics degree, prospective employers know that you are a person who has the background, knowledge and drive to succeed in broad range of scientific and technical fields.

Here are some of Kentucky employers who recently hired new physics bachelor recipients: CFW Associated Engineers Inc., Dow Chemical Company, Genscape Inc., Halton, Hitachi Automotive, Hydormax USA, Johnson Control, nGimat Company, S&ME Inc., ToolWorks.

Career opportunities in Physics

  • astronomer
  • scientist
  • technician
  • acoustical engineer
  • meteorologist
  • aerospace engineer
  • navigation equipment specialist
  • optical design specialist
  • astrophysicist
  • particle physicist
  • medical physicist
  • nuclear physicist
  • development
  • professor
  • planetarium exhibit planner/guide
  • computer programmer
  • science writer
  • national observatories
  • government laboratories
  • applied research
  • department of defense and commerce
  • equipment manufacturers
  • scientific instrument companies

Current Curriculum Information

Access Major Template

source: myUK: GPS

  • Physics (BA) 120 hours

Click to toggle each Academic Year. Click each course for more information.

Freshman Year

Fall Semester
  • UK 101 - ACADEMIC ORIENTATION1

    This course is designed to assist undergraduates in adjusting to the academic life of the University. Through lectures, discussions, exercises, and out-of-class assignments, UK 101 helps first-year students: articulate the purpose and nature of a college education at a research university; articulate UK’s expectations of its students; gain an appreciation of the University’s mission, history, and traditions; develop skills for achieving academic success such as study strategies and library research skills; increase awareness and use of campus resources; reflect on personal and social issues that first-year students often face in a college environment; become involved in the total life of the University; and form beneficial relationships with students, faculty, and staff.

  • Composition and Communication I3
  • Pre-Major Math Selection5
  • Intellectual Inquiry in Arts and Creativity3
  • Intellectual Inquiry in the Social Sciences3
    • Total15
Spring Semester
  • PHY 231 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS4

    First part of a two-semester survey of classical physics. Consequences of the principles of mechanics are developed conceptually, analytically and quantitatively. Lecture, three hours; recitation, one hour per week.

  • PHY 241 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS LABORATORY1

    A laboratory course offering experiments in mechanics and heat, framed in a small group environment that requires coordination and team work in the development of a well-written lab report.

  • UK Core - Comp. & Comm. II3

    Composition and Communication II

  • Pre-Major Math Selection5
  • Statistical Inferential Reasoning3
    • Total16
    • Total Freshman Hours31

Sophomore Year

Fall Semester
  • PHY 232 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS4

    A general course covering electricity, magnetism, electromagnetic waves and physical optics. Lecture, three hours; recitation, one hour per week.

  • PHY 242 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS LABORATORY1

    A laboratory course offering experiments in electricity, magnetism, and light, framed in a small group environment that requires coordination and team work in the development of a well written lab report.

  • MA 213 - CALCULUS III4

    A course in multi-variable calculus. Topics include vectors and geometry of space, three-dimensional vector calculus, partial derivatives, double and triple integrals, integration on surfaces, Green’s theorem. Optional topics include Stokes’ theorem and the Gauss’ divergence theorem. Lecture, three hours; recitation, two hours per week. Prereq: MA 114 or MA 138 or equivalent.

  • Foreign Language 1014
  • Courses Outside Physics (200+ level)3
    • Total16
Spring Semester
  • PHY 228 - OPTICS, RELATIVITY AND THERMAL PHYSICS3

    A lecture and problems course covering the principles of geometrical optics, special relativity, and thermal physics.

  • PHY 306 - THEORETICAL METHODS OF PHYSICS3

    A lecture and problems course on the applications in physics of vector calculus, Fourier series and transforms, special functions and asymptotic forms.

  • Foreign Language 1024
  • Courses Outside Physics (200+ level)3
  • Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities3
    • Total16
    • Total Sophomore Hours32

Junior Year

Fall Semester
  • CHE 105 - GENERAL COLLEGE CHEMISTRY I4

    A study of the principles of chemistry and their application to the more important elements and their compounds. Not open to students who have already completed both CHE 104 and 106 or CHE 104 and CHE 108, but open to students who have completed just CHE 104.

  • PHY 335 - DATA ANALYSIS FOR PHYSICISTS2

    A computational methods course in the theory and techniques of data analysis and error propagation, with emphasis on applications common to the physical sciences: the treatment of statistical errors, the maximum- likelihood method, the chi-square distribution, and curve fitting. Students will learn computer programming, and they will prepare a set of analysis programs for use in subsequent lab courses.

  • Foreign Language 2013
  • Courses Outside Physics (200+ level)3
  • A&S Humanities (100+ level)3
  • Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA3
    • Total18
Spring Semester
  • CHE 107 - GENERAL COLLEGE CHEMISTRY II3

    A continuation of CHE 105. A study of the principles of chemistry and their application to the more important elements and compounds.

  • PHY 361 - PRINCIPLES OF MODERN PHYSICS3

    An introduction to the foundations of quantum mechanics and selected topics in atomic, nuclear, particle, solid state, and statistical physics.

  • Foreign Language 2023
  • Courses Outside Physics (300+ level)3
  • Global Dynamics3
    • Total15
    • Total Junior Hours33

Senior Year

Fall Semester
  • Physics Course (300+ level)3
  • Physics Course (400+ level)3
  • A&S Social Sciences (300+level)3
  • A&S Humanities (100+ level)3
  • A&S Approved Elective (300+ level)3
    • Total15
Spring Semester
  • PHY 435 - INTERMEDIATE PHYSICS LABORATORY3

    An intermediate-level laboratory course emphasizing quantum phenomena in atomic, solid state and nuclear systems. Laboratory techniques include optical spectroscopy, gamma-ray and particle detection, atomic and nuclear collisions, and interferometry. This course satisfies the Graduation Writing Requirement. This course is a Graduation Composition and Communication Requirement (GCCR) course in certain programs, and hence is not likely to be eligible for automatic transfer credit to UK.

  • Courses Outside Physics (300+ level)3
  • A&S Social Sciences (100+ level)3
  • A&S Approved Elective (300+ level)3
  • A&S Approved Elective (300+ level)3
    • Total18
    • Total Senior Hours33
  • Physics (BS) 120 hours

Click to toggle each Academic Year. Click each course for more information.

Freshman Year

Fall Semester
  • CHE 105 - GENERAL COLLEGE CHEMISTRY I4

    A study of the principles of chemistry and their application to the more important elements and their compounds. Not open to students who have already completed both CHE 104 and 106 or CHE 104 and CHE 108, but open to students who have completed just CHE 104.

  • PHY 231 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS4

    First part of a two-semester survey of classical physics. Consequences of the principles of mechanics are developed conceptually, analytically and quantitatively. Lecture, three hours; recitation, one hour per week.

  • PHY 241 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS LABORATORY1

    A laboratory course offering experiments in mechanics and heat, framed in a small group environment that requires coordination and team work in the development of a well-written lab report.

  • Composition and Communication I3
  • Pre-Major Math Selection5
    • Total17
Spring Semester
  • CHE 107 - GENERAL COLLEGE CHEMISTRY II3

    A continuation of CHE 105. A study of the principles of chemistry and their application to the more important elements and compounds.

  • PHY 228 - OPTICS, RELATIVITY AND THERMAL PHYSICS3

    A lecture and problems course covering the principles of geometrical optics, special relativity, and thermal physics.

  • UK Core - Comp. & Comm. II3

    Composition and Communication II

  • Pre-Major Math Selection5
  • Courses Outside Physics (200+ level)3
    • Total17
    • Total Freshman Hours34

Sophomore Year

Fall Semester
  • PHY 232 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS4

    A general course covering electricity, magnetism, electromagnetic waves and physical optics. Lecture, three hours; recitation, one hour per week.

  • PHY 242 - GENERAL UNIVERSITY PHYSICS LABORATORY1

    A laboratory course offering experiments in electricity, magnetism, and light, framed in a small group environment that requires coordination and team work in the development of a well written lab report.

  • PHY 335 - DATA ANALYSIS FOR PHYSICISTS2

    A computational methods course in the theory and techniques of data analysis and error propagation, with emphasis on applications common to the physical sciences: the treatment of statistical errors, the maximum- likelihood method, the chi-square distribution, and curve fitting. Students will learn computer programming, and they will prepare a set of analysis programs for use in subsequent lab courses.

  • MA 213 - CALCULUS III4

    A course in multi-variable calculus. Topics include vectors and geometry of space, three-dimensional vector calculus, partial derivatives, double and triple integrals, integration on surfaces, Green’s theorem. Optional topics include Stokes’ theorem and the Gauss’ divergence theorem. Lecture, three hours; recitation, two hours per week. Prereq: MA 114 or MA 138 or equivalent.

  • Foreign Language 1014
    • Total15
Spring Semester
  • MA 214 - CALCULUS IV3

    MA 214 is a course in ordinary differential equations. Emphasis is on first and second order equations and applications. The course includes series solutions of second order equations and Laplace transform methods.

  • PHY 306 - THEORETICAL METHODS OF PHYSICS3

    A lecture and problems course on the applications in physics of vector calculus, Fourier series and transforms, special functions and asymptotic forms.

  • PHY 361 - PRINCIPLES OF MODERN PHYSICS3

    An introduction to the foundations of quantum mechanics and selected topics in atomic, nuclear, particle, solid state, and statistical physics.

  • Foreign Language 1024
  • Statistical Inferential Reasoning3
    • Total16
    • Total Sophomore Hours31

Junior Year

Fall Semester
  • PHY 404G - MECHANICS3

    A lecture and problem course covering the fundamental laws of mechanics. Topics include Newton's Laws, Kepler's Laws, oscillatory motion and an introduction to Lagrangian methods.

  • PHY 416G - ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM3

    First of two lecture and problem courses covering: the theory of electrostatic fields in the presence of conductors and dielectric materials, magnetic fields due to steady currents in the presence of magnetic materials, electromagnetic induction, and electromagnetic fields due to time-varying currents.

  • Foreign Language 2013
  • Courses Outside Physics (200+ level)3
  • Intellectual Inquiry in Arts and Creativity3
    • Total15
Spring Semester
  • PHY 417G - ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM3

    Second of two lecture and problem courses covering: the theory of electrostatic fields in the presence of conductors and dielectric materials, magnetic fields due to steady currents in the presence of magnetic materials, electromagnetic induction, and electromagnetic fields due to time-varying currents.

  • Foreign Language 2023
  • Additional Major Course3
  • Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities3
  • Intellectual Inquiry in the Social Sciences3
    • Total15
    • Total Junior Hours30

Senior Year

Fall Semester
  • PHY 520 - INTRODUCTION TO QUANTUM MECHANICS3

    A lecture and problem course providing an introduction to the concepts and formalism of quantum mechanics. Primary emphasis is on the time- independent Schrodinger equation and its applications to simple systems such as the harmonic oscillator, the square-well potential, and the hydrogen atom without spin. Prereq: PHY 361, MA 214.

  • Additional Major Course3
  • A&S Social Sciences (100+ level)3
  • Global Dynamics3
  • A&S Approved Elective (100+ level)3
    • Total15
Spring Semester
  • PHY 521 - INTRO TO QUANTUM MECHANICS II3

    A continuation of PHY 520, introducing the quantum description of systems with spin, and approximation methods. Principles of quantum mechanics will be illustrated by their application to model systems selected from the fields of atomic, solid state, nuclear, and particle physics. Prereq: PHY 520.

  • PHY 535 - EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS: ADVANCED PHYSICS LABORATORY3

    An advanced laboratory course emphasizing quantum phenomena in atomic, solid state, and nuclear systems. Laboratory techniques include optical spectroscopy, gamma-ray and particle detection, optical pumping, atomic and nuclear collisions, and interferometr. This course has been approved for the Graduate Writing Requirement. This course is a Graduation Composition and Communication Requirement (GCCR) course in certain programs, and hence is not likely to be eligible for automatic transfer credit to UK.

  • A&S Humanities (200+ level)3
  • Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA3
  • A&S Approved Elective (100+ level)3
    • Total15
    • Total Senior Hours30

Classes & Requirements

What You'll Study

In a curriculum flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of career and educational interests, physics majors acquire a general understanding and appreciation of physics and astronomy. Majors develop valuable problem-solving and analytic skills allowing graduates to pursue a variety of options, including preparation for medical school, engineering graduate school, work in computer science or information technology, and further study of physics or astronomy.

 
Physics B.A. Four Year Plan Physics B.S. Four Year Plan

Graduation Requirements

Any student earning a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree must complete a minimum of 39 hours at the 300+ level. These hours are generally completed by the major requirements. However, keep this hour requirement in mind as you choose your course work for the requirements in the major. Students interested in earning a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree must complete a minimum of 60 hours in biological, physical, mathematical and/or computer sciences. See the complete description of College requirements for a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences degrees in the Arts and Sciences section of the 2015-2016 Undergraduate Bulletin.

UK Core Requirements

  • The Nature of Inquiry in Arts and Creativity (3 hours)
  • The Nature of Inquiry in the Humanities (3 hours)
  • The Nature of Inquiry in the Social Sciences (3 hours)
  • The nature of Inquiry in the Natural, Physical and Mathematical Sciences (3 hours)
  • Composition and Communication I (3 hours)
  • Composition and Communication II (3 hours)
  • Quantitative Foundations (3 hours)
  • Statistical and Inferential Reasoning (3 hours)
  • Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA (3 hours)
  • Global Dynamics (3 hours)

Total Credit Hours - 30


Premajor Requirements 

  • PHY 231/232/241/242 - General University Physics and Labarotory courses or (with permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies): PHY 211/213 - General Physics [10 hours]
  • PHY 228 - Optics, Relativity and Thermal Physics [3 hours]
  • CHE 105 - General College Chemistry I [4 hours]
  • CHE 107 - General College Chemistry II [3 hours]
  • MA 113 - Calculus I [4 hours]
  • MA 114 - Calculus II [4 hours]

Total Hours - 28

Major Requirements 

Core Requirements 

  • PHY 306 - Theoretical Methods of Physics [3 hours]
  • PHY 335 - Data Analysis for Physicists [1 hour]
  • PHY 361 - Principles of Modern Physics [3 hours]
  • PHY 404G - Mechanics [3 hours]
  • PHY 416G/417G - Electricity and Magnetism [6 hours]
  • PHY 520 - Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I [3 hours]
  • PHY 521 - Introduction to Quantum Mechanics II [3 hours]
  • PHY 535 - Advanced Physics Laboratory [3 hours]
  • MA 213 - Calculus III [4 hours]
  • MA 214 - Calculus IV [3 hours]
  • In addition, students must pick two of the following: AST/PHY 395 - Independent Work in Astronomy/Physics [3 hours], PHY 402G - Electronic Instrumentation and Measurements [3 hours], PHY 435 - Intermediate Physics Laboratory [3 hours], PHY 508 - Computational Physics [3 hours]

Other Course Work Outside of the Department

  • Students must take 6 credit hours of course work outside of Physics at the 200+ level. Courses are generally chosen from Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Mathematics, Philosophy, or Statistics

Total Hours - 42


A&S Undecided/Exploratory Studies

Understanding that over 70 percent of university students will change their declared major at least once during their college careers, the College of Arts and Sciences has developed an Exploratory Studies program for students who have yet to decide the specific field of study that most closely aligns both their personal interests and their professional career goals and objectives. The Exploratory Studies Program provides students with an extraordinarily diverse educational environment that includes coursework spanning Math and Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences and provides students with the unique opportunity to explore multiple areas of interest during their first several semesters on campus. For more information please contact a recruiting representative at asrecruting@uky.edu. 


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