Bachelor of Science Degree
Arts and Sciences
Time to Completion
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What Is Physics ?
Physics is the study of the physical laws of nature. Physicists apply these laws to draw conclusions about a wide range of phenomena, from the structures of subatomic particles to planetary motion. Physics majors develop strong analytical skills, learning to produce and examine critically exact quantitative evidence for theories about the workings of the universe.
The successful physics student must possess strong skills in mathematics, analytical thinking and writing, and problem solving. The student should be imaginative and welcome challenges. For greatest success, the student should function well both individually and as part of a group.
The study of physics at UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) provides excellent training in quantitative and analytic approaches to solving problems, as well as experience with computers and laboratory equipment. Physics graduates are highly sought for graduate and professional programs in engineering, computer science, law, economics, medicine, neuroscience, business and teaching, in addition to physics. Physics graduates are also highly valued in the workplace, particularly in the high-tech industries but also in other areas where analytic abilities and out-of-the-box thinking are assets.
The emphasis on modeling and problem-solving skills as an intrinsic part of a physics education means that graduates of this major can and do pursue many different careers. In addition to continuing on to graduate schools in physics and other professional schools like law, medicine and business, opportunities of our recent graduates include:
- Science teacher
- Banking and finance
- Military officer
- Accelerator operator
- Research technician
- Computer engineer
- Software development
- Aerospace industry
- Medical physics
Graduate study in physics includes additional course work and an original research project, culminating in the Ph.D. thesis or dissertation. A Ph.D. in physics is qualified to teach at colleges and universities, as well as to lead independent research at universities, government facilities or in an industrial setting.
Additional career options are listed on the Career Development Center's website.
The physics B.S. program is designed with some flexibility to allow for a variety of career goals, while providing students with a sound foundation in the principles of physics. The program includes lecture courses in all major fields of physics (including current research areas) and is sufficiently rigorous to enable graduates to be admitted to top graduate schools in physics and astronomy. Other options allow limited course substitutions to accommodate pre-medical requirements, double majors, and custom-designed interdisciplinary studies programs. An option for a B.S. in physics and M.S. in computer science from the engineering college also exists. In the final year, each student completes an independent project under faculty supervision as part of the capstone experience. This project can take many forms and includes opportunities to conduct research in our labs. The department recently began offering an optional six-month co-op experience in spring and summer of the junior year.
The following courses are required of all physics majors (B.S.):
- *Physics 204-205-206 (or 201H-02H-03H) 214-215-216 (or 211H-12H-13H) (General Physics -- for physics majors)
- Intermediate Physics 351-52-53
- Mechanics 301, 302
- Electricity & Magnetism 304, 305
- Thermal Physics 331, 332
- **Intro Quantum Mechanics 507, 508
- Advanced Laboratory 511, 512
- Physics Capstone 499
- 300-level Physics electives (6 cr.)
- Calculus I, II, III, IV 251, 252 & 256, 253 & 257, 264
- Differential Equations 273
Physics majors are strongly encouraged to take additional elective math and physics courses. Examples include: Matrix Methods, Linear Algebra I, II and Probability & Statistics I, II.
*General Physics (calculus-based) for nonmajors may be substituted with special permission from the director of undergraduate programs in physics.
**Pre-medical students may substitute Chemistry 201-2-3, 211-12-13 (organic chemistry and lab) for 507-8 and one physics elective.
UC McMicken College's flexible degree requirements allow for and highly encourage students to pursue multiple areas of study. Free electives allow for enough credits for students to pursue a minor, certificate program or even complete a second major. Some of the most common pairings are listed below.
- Biological sciences
- Mathematical sciences
The undergraduate minor in physics is designed to provide students with a sound introduction to both classical and modern physics. It is offered to students in any college at the University of Cincinnati; however, the required physics courses must be taken McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S).
Required Credits: at least 30 in physics courses at the 200 level or higher; nine of these must be at the 300 level or higher. For specifics, please visit the college Web site.
This curriculum information is intended as a general information guide for students considering enrollment in this major. These online tools are designed to assist you, but are not a substitute for planning with an academic or faculty advisor.
If you are currently enrolled at UC, you can audit your degree online. If you are considering transferring to this major from another school use the course applicability system (CAS) to see how credits you have earned will apply to this major at UC. For course descriptions by college, click here.
|First Year||Course Number||Credits|
|*English Composition||ENGL 101, 102||6|
|Calculus I, II & Lab, and III & Lab||MATH 251, 252/256, 253/257||15|
|General Physics for Physics Majors & Lab||PHYS 204/214, 205/215, 206/216||15|
|*Historical Perspectives (HP, 100 to 200-level)||see options||9|
|Total for first year||45|
|Second Year||Course Number||Credits|
|*Intermediate Composition||ENGL 289||3|
|Intermediate Physics||PHYS 351, 352, 353||15|
|Calculus IV||MATH 264||5|
|Differential Equations||MATH 273||5|
|*Foreign Language||see checklist||9-15|
|Free electives (See note below for recommended courses in Mathematics and/or Statistics.) ||see note below||2-8|
|Total for second year||45|
|Third Year||Course Number||Credits|
|Mechanics||PHYS 301, 302||6|
|Electricity & Magnetism||PHYS 304, 305||6|
|Thermal Physics||PHYS 331, 332||6|
|Physics Elective||PHYS 300-level or above||3|
|*Foreign Language (if necessary)||see checklist||0-9|
|*Humanities (HU)||see offerings||3|
|*Literature (LT)||see offerings||3|
|Free electives (See note below for recommended courses in Mathematics and/or Statistics.) ||see note below||9-18|
|Total for third year||45|
|Fourth Year||Course Number||Credits|
|Introductory Quantum Mechanics||PHYS 507, 508||6|
|Advanced Laboratory I, and II||PHYS 511, 512||6|
|Physics Capstone||PHYS 399||3|
|Physics Elective||PHYS 300-level or above||3|
|*Social Sciences (SS)||see offerings||9|
|*Humanities, Literature, or Fine Arts (HU, LT, or FA)||see offerings||3|
|*Social & Ethical Issues (if not already taken, SE)||see offerings||3|
|Free electives (See note below for recommended courses in Mathematics and/or Statistics.) ||see note below||12|
|Total for fourth year||45|
|Total overall||Minimum 180|
*Needed to fulfill A&S college requirements.
 Note: Physics majors are strongly encouraged to take additional elective courses in math, physics, or statistics. Examples include the following:
STAT 147, 148, 149 - Elementary Probability & Statistics (9 hours)
STAT 241 - Introduction to Statistics (4 hours)
MATH 276 - Matrix Methods (3 hours)
MATH 351, 352 - Linear Algebra (6 hours)
Students in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences enjoy many benefits afforded through study at a research-intensive institution ranked among the nation's top 25 public research universities. UC's urban, tri-state location offers exciting opportunities for global education, research and service learning, while its student-centered focus includes an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized Center for Exploratory Studies and a highly successful First Year Experience program that teaches critical skills for first-year students and provides connections with important campus resources.
The physics faculty members engage in forefront research in the major areas in physics. Opportunities are available for students to be involved in such research, often leading to publications. Our relatively small class size allows for significant personal attention to each student. Our curriculum is designed to be flexible to allow for different career goals. Our majors have access to excellent computer facilities, and computation is incorporated intrinsically into our courses. The department recently began offering an optional six-month co-op experience in spring and summer of the junior year. UC is one of only a few physics departments in the country to offer such an opportunity.
Admission criteria for this program vary based on the relative strength of test scores, class rank and GPA. Please see the Freshman Class Profile for this major in the Quick Facts sidebar on this page for the range of academic credentials typically accepted into this program. Test scores in the lower range may be acceptable with higher class rank and/or GPA. Freshmen applying to this program should also have completed the following state of Ohio articulation requirements with no more than two units missing:
- English (4 units)*
- College-preparatory mathematics (3 units)*
- Science (2 units)
- Social science (2 units)
- Foreign language (2 units)*
- Additional college-prep subjects (3 units)
*McMicken College of Arts and Sciences does not allow units missing from these areas.
Applicants to A&S whose most recent enrollment was not in any of the UC colleges must apply to the Office of Admissions. Applicants in this category must submit transcripts for all secondary school and college-level work. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 for all college-level work is required for admission consideration. Admission to A&S is generally available for any off-campus applicants who have received an associate degree from an accredited college or university and whose cumulative GPA is 2.0 or higher.
Although midyear, off-campus transfer students are not able to participate in priority registration in the quarter prior to their enrollment, they are included in the summer registration period prior to their fall quarter enrollment.
Changing Major Requirements
Applicants to A&S whose most recent enrollment was as a degree student in one of UC’s other colleges can apply directly to the A&S college office. Admission to A&S is generally available for any on-campus students who have:
- at least a 2.0 GPA in all college-level courses (both at UC and at other institutions),
- successfully completed two quarters of English Composition or its equivalent, and
- gained credit for a college-level mathematics course.
A&S students must meet the college residency requirement of 45.0 hours which begins immediately upon matriculation in the college and consists of courses taught with McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
To graduate from UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, students must:
- Earn at least 180 credits. This can include transfer credit, AP credit and free electives, but does not include preparatory coursework. Students who have met all other degree requirements must continue earning credit until the total number of their earned hours comes to at least 180.
- Attain a 2.0 grade point average for all courses taken at the University of Cincinnati.
- Be in good academic standing, that is, not on either academic probation or disciplinary probation or suspension.
- Complete the residency requirement by earning at least 45 credits after matriculating into the college. These minimum 45 credits must be taught within McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, and also must be completed after gaining admission to the college.
- Complete all of the requirements of at least one major (see major requirements above).
- Complete the College Core Requirements.
- Submit an application for graduation to the registrar's office by their posted deadline.
UC operates on a quarter system, with 10-week grading periods beginning in late September, early January, late March and mid-June. While midyear admission is possible, fall quarter is generally the best time to enter the college, since many course sequences begin in that quarter. Applicants to McMicken College of Arts and Sciences who are enrolled or who were previously enrolled as degree-seeking students in A&S or in other UC colleges should apply for admission directly to A&S (in French West, 2nd Floor). All other applicants who wish to earn an undergraduate degree from A&S should apply through the Office of Admissions (3rd Floor, University Pavilion).