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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 Algebra-Based General Physics 1 with Lab or PHYS 131 Calculus-Based General Physics 1 with Lab

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 128 Algebra-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

PHYS 132 Calculus-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

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 Algebra-Based General Physics 1 with Lab or PHYS 131 Calculus-Based General Physics 1 with Lab

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 128 Algebra-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

PHYS 132 Calculus-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

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

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 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

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 Algebra-Based General Physics 1 with Lab or PHYS 131 Calculus-Based General Physics 1 with Lab

One unit, chosen from

PHYS 128 Algebra-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

PHYS 132 Calculus-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

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 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

Three additional units in biology

Biochemistry Concentration

CHEM 141 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

CHEM 205-CHEM 206 Organic Chemistry

CHEM 326 Biochemistry

Chemistry Concentration

CHEM 141 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

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: Five 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

Five units, including:

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

Two additional units in PHYS