Physics

Physics—BA, BS

Want to study physics, but not sure you want to be a scientist? Our degree programs lets you explore career paths.

Take a more traditional approach to the study of physics with our BS in physics, which sets 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.

"The Michigan Tech physics department is like a community. Everyone is willing to help you with physics questions, research questions, or anything you need. There is always someone in the physics lounge or around Fisher hall that will help you."Owen '18, BS in physics

Expand your options to careers outside of physics research or graduate school with a BA in physics. Customize your course of study through your choice of approved electives, which serve as 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 are prepared to continue on to law, medical, or business school with a solid scientific background.

About the Program

Get involved in research. Undergraduate students have opportunities to work with faculty on a variety of research projects. Students are paired with a faculty member for a minimum of two semesters of research, but students frequently exceed this degree requirement by taking advantage of the department's many opportunities for continued research. We take pride in providing hands-on education; undergraduate research experiences are just one of the many teaching-learning experiences in our program.

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 post-graduation success.

Physics in a group image at CERN sign
Physics students inside the European Laboratory for Particle Physics; Geneva, Switzerland, CERN.

Get Involved

Students broaden their degree experience by working directly with the physics department staff and faculty. Opportunities include working as an academic coach to students in the Physics Learning Center, design and execute real-world, textbook concept demos for classrooms on the Demonstration Crew, become a teaching assistant in labs, and work side-by-side with faculty on cutting-edge research projects.

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 develop into successful members of the professional physics community.

After Graduation

Our graduates have found jobs with the following companies and agencies:

  • Argonne National Lab Chicago
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Lab
  • Dow Corning

Our graduates have been accepted at the following graduate schools:

  • Michigan State University
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center
  • Oregon Health and Science University

Program Learning Goals

We expect that all physics majors will finish their program of study as well-rounded critical thinkers and lifelong learners. Graduates will be prepared to successfully compete for and perform in graduate study or professional work in physics, engineering, education, or related fields.

Physics—BA

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 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. In combination with another degree in engineering, mathematics, business, or technical communication (among other disciplines), students may also pursue the Bachelor of Arts in physics as a valuable second degree or second major.

Specific learning goals for graduates include:

  • 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)
  • Students will be able to carry out basic laboratory work in physics
  • Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing

Physics—BS

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. Specific learning goals include:

  • 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)
  • Students will be able to carry out basic and advanced laboratory work in physics
  • Students will be able to design and carry out an effective research program
  • Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing