Incoming first-year students with strong physics backgrounds have the chance to skip the first semester of introductory physics and jump right into the second semester to study electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermal physics.
Richmond offers three majors, one dual degree and one minor through the physics department. The department typically graduates six to 10 physics majors per year.
The physics major traditionally begins with a year-long introductory sequence, although students with Advanced Placement credit or the equivalent may place out of one or both semesters of this sequence. Introductory physics courses at Richmond are taught in an innovative “workshop” style in which classroom and laboratory activities are closely integrated in each class meeting. These courses are taught in small sections, with an emphasis on hands-on, active learning.
Once students declare the physics major, typically some time during their sophomore year, they are assigned a faculty member who will serve as their advisor and help them develop a program of study to achieve their educational goals.
The curriculum for the B.S. and B.A. physics majors primarily consists of classes in mathematics and physics, though some students may choose to integrate courses in other scientific fields. In addition, there is a major in interdisciplinary physics, which combines physics course work with a concentration in another branch of science or mathematics.
In addition to demanding coursework, students enjoy unparalleled opportunities for research and experiential learning that reinforce the material they are learning in the classroom. This dual emphasis in classical learning and research is what makes University of Richmond physics majors so successful after graduation.
As an alternative to the standard introductory sequence, first-year students can choose to take advantage of the University’s integrated quantitative (IQ) science program, a year-long course developed as part of a $1.4 million grant the University received from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The IQ science course is team taught by 10 professors and combines material from the introductory courses in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science. Students complete the course prepared to enter the second course in the biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics or computer science majors and receive funding to participate in an undergraduate summer research experience. Students who are considering enrolling in this course and majoring in physics should consult a member of the physics faculty to plan their curriculum.