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Physics—BA, BS

From Macro to Micro, Unravel the Universe’s Mysteries

Do you have the “physics gene?” Have you known since a young age that you wanted to discover more about the way our world works, from the smallest particles to the largest galaxies? The Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Physics at Michigan Technological University offer students the opportunity to explore the physical properties behind the behavior of the universe.

Hands-On Learning: Our Hallmark

Our students learn best by doing, which is why we emphasize challenging lab work and rewarding research. Starting with your first semester at Michigan Tech, you will work in the lab to deepen your understanding of physical properties. Through honors-level first-year courses, you will quickly familiarize yourself with our cutting-edge labs and our faculty’s research.

BA Versus BS

Even if you want to study physics, you may not be sure that you want to pursue a career as a scientist. With our newly implemented Bachelor of Arts option, physics majors can now explore two separate career paths.

Take a more traditional approach to studying physics through our BS in Physics, which will set you up for success in graduate school, industry, or laboratory research. Students who opt for this course of study have been recruited by national laboratories (such as Argonne National Lab and MIT’s Lincoln Lab) and have been accepted into graduate-level physics programs at schools such as Michigan State, University of Colorado-Boulder, Penn State, and MIT.

Or pursue a BA in Physics, which opens doors to careers outside of physics research or to grad school after graduation. You will customize your course of study through your choice of approved electives, giving you a secondary lens through which to see your physics education. Approved focus areas range from remote sensing to scientific and technical communication to entrepreneurship. With the strong problem-solving skills you will gain through your physics studies, you can then continue on to law, medical, or business school following graduation from Tech with a solid scientific background.

About the Program

  • Undergraduate students work directly with faculty on research projects. Students pursing the BS degree are paired with a faculty member for two semesters, but students frequently exceed this degree requirement by taking advantage of the department’s many opportunities for continued research.
  • The physics department prides itself on a sense of collegiality. This comes not only from faculty-student mentoring, but also peer-to-peer support. With such a small undergraduate community (typically 25 students per incoming class), students quickly become an integral part of the department’s culture.
  • Students are exposed to many disciplines within physics throughout their undergraduate career, which greatly increases postgraduation success. Our faculty has research expertise in
    • astrophysics;
    • atmospheric physics;
    • computational physics;
    • experimental physics; and
    • computational biophysics.
  • The department also offers or significantly supports minors in
    • astrophysics;
    • nanoscale science and engineering (nanotechnology);
    • physics; and
    • remote sensing.
  • First-year physics students automatically become members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Physics Students—a national professional organization designed to help students transform themselves into successful members of the professional physics community.

Program Learning Goals—BA in Physics

The Bachelor of Arts in Physics degree is intended for students seeking a foundation in physics as a liberal arts degree, but who typically do not intend to become physicists. The flexibility in this degree program allows for students to gain significant educational breadth in other disciplines. This degree may be well suited for students seeking to continue their education in medical, dental, business, or law school, for example. In combination with another degree in engineering, mathematics, business, technical communication, etc., students may also pursue the Bachelor of Arts in Physics as a valuable second degree or second major.

We expect that all physics majors will finish their program of study equipped as well-rounded critical thinkers and life-long learners. They will be prepared to successfully compete for and perform in graduate study or professional work in physics, engineering, education, or related fields. Specific learning goals for graduates with a B.A. degree in Physics include:

Goal 1 Students will demonstrate a foundational knowledge of the fundamental concepts and principles of the major areas of physics (e.g. classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and thermal physics)
Goal 2 Students will be able to carry out basic laboratory work in physics.
Goal 3 Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing.

Program Learning Goals—BS in Physics

The Bachelor of Science in Physics is primarily intended for students pursuing a career in physics or closely related fields. This career path typically includes graduate studies, for which this degree is particularly well suited.

We expect that all physics majors will finish their program of study equipped as well-rounded critical thinkers and life-long learners. They will be prepared to successfully compete for and perform in graduate study or professional work in physics, engineering, education, or related fields. Specific learning goals for graduates with a B.S. degree in Physics include:

Goal 1 Students will demonstrate a mastery of the fundamental concepts and principles of the major areas of physics (e.g. classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and thermal physics)
Goal 2 Students will be able to carry out basic and advanced laboratory work in physics.
Goal 3 Students will be able to design and carry out an effective research program.
Goal 4 Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing.

Undergraduate Employment

There are many undergraduate employment opportunities within the department.

  • Work in the Physics Learning Center, where you act as an academic coach to fellow Michigan Tech students.
  • Join the demonstration crew—helping to dream up (and set up) real-world demos of textbook concepts for classrooms.
  • Assist in undergraduate physics labs as a teaching assistant.
  • Work side-by-side with faculty members on their research projects.