Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science | College of Arts and Science

What is Physics?

Physics is a natural science investigating observable phenomena at a fundamental level. While we might identify disciplines like astrophysics, biophysics, optical, computational, or condensed matter physics, the value of an education in physics lies in its versatility. Physicists not only find careers in government laboratories, universities, and private industries, but work in a broad range of sectors—from economics, business, and law; to biology and medicine; to technology and engineering—wherever quantitative-modeling and problem-solving skills are needed.

What are the features of Miami’s program?

Faculty-student research

Students are encouraged to work directly with faculty on original research problems. Their results have often been presented at scientific conferences and/or published in leading journals.

Miami's standard of excellence

Miami consistently ranks in the top 10 percent among more than 700 physics degree-granting colleges and universities in the nation in the number of physics graduates. Our program has been recognized by the American Physical Society as "one of the outstanding physics programs in the nation at a predominantly undergraduate institution."

Small class sizes

Our classes are typically small, with about 25 students per class. Miami believes that a smaller instructor-to-student ratio is vital to learning and allows for a close working relationship between faculty and students in the laboratory. Faculty are widely available for individual assistance.

Internship opportunities

For our physics students, summer internships are available at other universities and national laboratories. Examples include the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory. These positions are in national competition, and Miami students are successful in obtaining them.

Top-notch facilities

The department has modern research laboratories where students work with faculty on projects in atomic and molecular physics, quantum optics, advanced magnetic materials, spectroscopy, biophysics, and medical physics. Facilities for numerical modeling and simulations are available to students. We also have laboratories for courses in electronics, materials physics, optics and laser physics, and spectroscopy.

What are the special admission requirements, if any?

There are no additional admission requirements for this program.

What courses would I take?

Through our degree programs, all physics majors will become proficient in mathematics (at least through calculus) and in programming computers. In addition, our majors develop skills in electronics and advanced laboratory techniques.

The Bachelor of Science is an intensive degree concentrating on physics and mathematics. It provides the greatest depth of study in physics, requiring significant work at an advanced level. Students who intend to go on to graduate school usually choose the B.S., which provides a solid background in physics and is good preparation for further studies in this science.

The Bachelor of Arts program is broader, allowing you to pursue studies in other areas. The Bachelor of Arts degree is especially useful for students who want teaching certification. It is also a good option for pre-medical students, allowing the flexibility to take other courses in biology and chemistry usually required by medical school in addition to their physics courses. The A.B. is also chosen by those students who want a technical background before entering law or business school.

What can I do with this major?

About 60 percent of our physics graduates attend graduate or professional school, specializing in physics, engineering, business, law, education, or medicine. After further education, other careers include those in computational science or the physical sciences such as meteorology or oceanography.

Those students not continuing their formal education can find employment in a variety of scientific, technical, and other fields. High school teaching, military service, or technical sales are some of these options. A physics degree can also provide entry into other fields such as marketing or business operations with technical companies.

Teaching is an especially attractive area of employment for physics graduates today. According to the Association for School, College, and University Staffing, teacher shortages exist in both physics and mathematics, a situation not expected to change significantly over the next few years.

Who can I contact for more information?

Department of Physics
217 Kreger Hall
Oxford, OH 45056