College of Arts & Sciences



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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.


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

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.


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 [2 hours]
  • 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 522 - Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics [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

Physics | Bachelor of Arts

B.A. Major Sheet B.A. Four Year Plan

Physics | Bachelor of Science

B.S. Major Sheet B.S. Four Year Plan

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 

Enhancing Your Time at UK

While there are endless ways to create an unforgettable journey as a Wildcat, we can only think of one that gives you the chance to step outside the classroom and into exploring new parts of the world around you: participating in an Education Abroad opportunity! Whether it’s in a study, research, service, or internship program, taking your UK experience international with EA is the most hands-on way for you to expand your global perspective while making yourself a more well-rounded, marketable candidate to future employers no matter your field. As you take these first steps towards investing in your future, EA encourages you to take advantage of all the opportunities UK has to offer. Take a look at some of the many suggested opportunities UK Education Abroad & Exchanges has to complement your major! #ukyabroad


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