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Physics Major & Minor

Fundamental physics principles touch all of the basic sciences—astronomy, biology, chemistry and geology, as well as all the applied sciences and engineering. Through the study of motion, forces, matter, electricity, magnetism, and light, physicists have explained chemistry, discovered X-rays, probed the depths of matter, and detected signals from the birth of the cosmos. Yet so many mysteries remain unsolved.

In the classroom, physics students do more than just show up and take notes. They spend their class time asking "why" and "what if" questions, regardless of whether the class is a workshop-based introductory course or a senior-level course in quantum mechanics, and recognize that they learn best by doing.

Physics students are first and foremost, problem solvers. After graduating with a degree in physics from the University of Richmond, they have gone on to become scientists, engineers and teachers, not to mention public servants, physicians and attorneys. Whether entering academia or a career after graduation, a physics degree speaks volumes about your intelligence, work ethic and problem solving skills.

The University of Richmond offers several degree physics options to allow you to select what best fits your needs:

  • The B.S. in physics is great preparation for graduate school in physics, astronomy, or engineering, or for technical jobs.
  • The B.A. in physics has fewer required courses and prepares you well for a teaching career.
  • The B.S. in interdisciplinary physics allows you to pair your study of physics with a concentration in a related field such as biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, or math.

We also offer a dual-degree program in engineering in partnership with Columbia University.

Major & Minor Requirements
The Physics Major

The Physics Major

For the Bachelor of Arts degree

11 units, including

PHYS 127 General Physics I or PHYS 131 General Physics with Calculus I
One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 128 General Physics II
PHYS 132 General Physics with Calculus II
PHYS 133 Atomic and Sub-Atomic Physics
PHYS 134 Biological Physics

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 201 Einstein's Relativity
PHYS 202 Particle/Wave Duality and the Quantum Revolution
PHYS 205 Introduction to Modern Physics

PHYS 221 Intermediate Laboratory
PHYS 397-PHYS 398 Junior Seminar
PHYS 497-PHYS 498 Senior Seminar
Three additional units in PHYS
MATH 212 Calculus II or MATH 232 Scientific Calculus II
Two additional units in courses approved by the department

This degree is offered primarily for students who wish to pursue a career in education or business or wishing to earn a cultural degree.

For the Bachelor of Science degree

13-14 units, including

PHYS 127 General Physics I or PHYS 131 General Physics with Calculus I
One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 128 General Physics II
PHYS 132 General Physics with Calculus II
PHYS 133 Atomic and Sub-Atomic Physics
PHYS 134 Biological Physics

PHYS 221 Intermediate Laboratory
PHYS 301 Mathematical Methods in Physics
PHYS 303 Classical Mechanics
PHYS 305 Electromagnetism
PHYS 308 Statistical Mechanics
PHYS 309 Quantum Mechanics I
PHYS 397-PHYS 398 Junior Seminar
PHYS 497-PHYS 498 Senior Seminar
0-1 unit of experimental work in addition to PHYS 221 chosen from:

PHYS 216 Electronics
PHYS 231 Experimental Physics
PHYS 381 Research
PHYS 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

One unit, chosen from:

CHEM 141 Introductory Chemistry: Structure, Dynamics and Synthesis
CMSC 150 Introduction to Computing
CMSC 155 Introduction to Scientific Computing
MATH 235 Multivariate Calculus

MATH 245 Linear Algebra

Two additional units in PHYS numbered above 200, excluding PHYS 381

Students are expected to fulfill all prerequisites necessary for courses within the major. Prerequisites do not count toward the major unless otherwise noted.

The Interdisciplinary Physics Major

The Interdisciplinary Physics Major for the Bachelor of Science Degree

Note: Students cannot major in both physics and interdisciplinary physics.

This degree is intended for students with a broad interest in several sciences or interdisciplinary science or who wish to pursue one of the engineering options.

15 units, including

PHYS 127 General Physics I or PHYS 131 General Physics with Calculus I
One unit, chosen from

PHYS 128 General Physics II
PHYS 132 General Physics with Calculus II
PHYS 133 Atomic and Sub-Atomic Physics
PHYS 134 Biological Physics

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 201 Einstein's Relativity
PHYS 202 Particle/Wave Duality and the Quantum Revolution
PHYS 205 Introduction to Modern Physics

PHYS 221 Intermediate Laboratory
PHYS 301 Mathematical Methods in Physics
PHYS 397-PHYS 398 Junior Seminar
PHYS 497-PHYS 498 Senior Seminar
MATH 211-MATH 212 Calculus I-II or MATH 232 Scientific Calculus II
Three additional units in physics at the 200 level or above
One of the concentrations described below. All concentrations require 4-5 additional units beyond those listed above.

Biology Concentration
BIOL 200 Integrated Biological Principles I
CHEM 141 Introductory Chemistry: Structure, Dynamics, and Synthesis
Three additional units in biology
Biochemistry Concentration
CHEM 141 Introductory Chemistry: Structure, Dynamics and Synthesis
CHEM 205-CHEM 206 Organic Chemistry
BIOL 326/CHEM 326 Biochemistry or CHEM 327 Biochemistry with Lab
Chemistry Concentration
CHEM 141 Introductory Chemistry: Structure, Dynamics and Synthesis
CHEM 309-CHEM 310 Physical Chemistry and CHEM 314-CHEM 315 Physical Chemistry Laboratory
One additional unit in chemistry
Computer Science Concentration
CMSC 150 Introduction to Computing or CMSC 155 Introduction to Scientific Computing
CMSC 221 Data Structures with Lab
Three additional units in computer science
Mathematics Concentration
MATH 235 Multivariate Calculus
MATH 245 Linear Algebra
MATH 312 Differential Equations
Two additional units in mathematics at the 300 level or above
Engineering Concentration: 5 units of engineering courses
This concentration is intended for students participating in the 3-2 engineering program.
The required units will be earned at another institution.
The Physics Minor

The Physics Minor

5 units, including

Three units numbered above 200, excluding 397-398 and 497-498

Two additional units in PHYS