Bachelor of Science in Physics

Wayne State University's hands-on Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Physics program teaches you how to answer the pressing scientific questions of our world. With small class sizes taught by renowned, published faculty members, you develop the deep foundational knowledge needed to enter graduate study or launch your career with strong problem-solving skills.

Why Wayne State's physics major?

  • Research programs funded by leading agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Options to focus on advanced physics or engineering and applied physics
  • 1:1 student-faculty mentorships on endless physics topics of your interest
  • Meet the requirements of industrial and government employers seeking those with a traditional education in physics

What is physics?

Physics is a branch of natural science centered around the study of matter and energy to explain how the universe works. To better understand and improve our world, organizations employ physicists.

As a considerably large discipline, physicists choose to specialize in a branch across an array of fields, such as astrophysics, biomedical, mechanical, nuclear, optics and thermodynamics. These talented individuals utilize math and the sciences to uncover the difficult questions leading to the development of new or improved technologies.

Learning objectives

The Bachelor of Science in Physics program prepares you for success by ensuring that you:

  • Understand and communicate the fundamental principles of physics
  • Explore a broad range of topics to enter a specialization in graduate study or your career
  • Can properly navigate a laboratory setting beyond the classroom

Physics program requirements and curriculum

As a physics major, you must complete a minimum of 120 credits by satisfying the following requirements:

To best support your career goals, the physics degree program offers three distinct options:

  • General physics - provides a comprehensive overview of physics.
  • Advanced physics - designed for students seeking graduate study, take additional courses beyond your general physics requirements.
  • Engineering and applied physics - requiring additional classes available in the "advanced physics" option, this route allows you to engage in interdisciplinary training to enter the field of engineering.

Courses

Depending on the physics option you choose, your semesters differ. However, all physics majors enroll in the same courses below to meet the program's basic requirements:

  • University Physics Laboratory I & II
  • Introductory Modern Physics Laboratory
  • Thermal and Fluid Physics
  • Computational Methods
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Calculus I, II and III
  • Differential Equations and Matrix Algebra
  • General Chemistry and General Chemistry Laboratory

Explore physics courses

Honors

The Bachelor of Science in Physics with honors curriculum is designed to challenge highly motivated students through their outstanding scholastic achievement and to develop interest in research and scholarly activity by providing students with an opportunity to work with faculty members.

  • Requirements
    • Total number of honors credits required (including seminar and thesis): 24 credits
    • Minimum GPA required: 3.30 overall and 3.50 in physics courses
    • Students admitted to the honors program will require 36 total credits to earn both physics and university honors. The additional 12 credits may be earned in any department


    Select the honors option in three of the following (9 to 12 credits). At least one of these three courses should be selected from the 5000 or 6000 level.

    Course Title Cr.
    PHY 2140 General Physics II (algebra-based) 3
    PHY 2180 General Physics II (calculus-based) 4
    PHY 3300 Introductory Modern Physics 3
    PHY 5100 Methods of Theoretical Physics I 3
    PHY 5200 Classical Mechanics I 3
    PHY 5210 Classical Mechanics II 3
    PHY 5340/5341 Optics with Lab 5
    PHY 500 Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics 4
    PHY 5620 Electronics and Electrical Measurements 5
    PHY 6400 Quantum Physics I 3
    PHY 6410 Quantum Physics II 3
    PHY 6600 Electricity and Magnetism I 4
    PHY 6610 Electricity and Magnetism II 4
    PHY 6850 Modern Physics Laboratory 2

    In addition to the above, the following is also required:

    Course Title Cr.
    PHY 5990

    Independent Research and Thesis

    Two semesters of research with a faculty member. A written thesis and an oral presentation of thesis are required. The thesis plan must be approved by the BMP program director prior to conducting the research. Ask your physics undergraduate advisor for more information.

    3
    HON 4200 4280 Honors Seminar 3
    HON xxxx 6 to 9 additional honors credits in any department, as needed, for a total of 24 honors credits to satisfy the biomedical physics honors program requirement. 6-9

    Apply for honors

Hands-on, interdisciplinary research

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is committed to providing exceptional scientific research opportunities.

To support these endeavors, we proudly offer the Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program, available exclusively in the summer. To foster the growth of your scientific knowledge, the program pairs you with a dedicated mentor on a funded research project. Active participation in the Department of Physics and Astronomy increases your chances of being hired as a paid research assistant.

As you discover our physics projects, be sure to explore our fascinating robotically controlled Dan Zowada Memorial Observatory.

Physics AGRADE programs

Physics majors may simultaneously enroll in undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Review our graduate physics programs:

To enroll:

  • Be a senior in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Hold a minimum GPA of 3.5

Interdisciplinary physics and electrical engineering AGRADE program

The Department of Physics and Astronomy allows outstanding students to apply up to 12 credits of physics graduate courses toward a master's in electrical engineering.

To enroll:

  • Previously completed at least 90 credits
  • Hold a GPA of at least 3.6 in major physics courses
  • Hold a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5

To learn more about the physics and electrical engineering AGRADE program, contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy undergraduate advisor, Dawn Niedermiller.

Physics bachelor's degree career outlook

As a physics graduate, nearly every industry needs your expertise. Create renewable energy for large companies across the globe, work on a patent for an improved MRI machine or promote groundbreaking research on the Milky Way at a leading news network. These are just a few of the things you can do as a physicist.

Graduating with your physics degree prepares you for graduate study and careers across diverse settings:

  • Data analysis companies
  • Engineering
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Medicine
  • Meteorology
  • Military
  • Research
  • Science writing
  • Teaching

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in physics.

Explore career insights

Financial aid and scholarships

Wayne State University strives to make your education affordable. To meet this goal, the Department of Physics and Astronomy offers merit-based scholarships to both full-time and part-time physics majors.

Learn about our departmental scholarships.

Learn more about Wayne State University's B.S. in Physics

Whether conducting lab experiments in electrostatics or engaging in funded research programs, unleash your potential through boundless discovery by enrolling in the Bachelor of Science in Physics program at Wayne State.

Career insights

This tool provides a broad overview of how major selection can lead to careers and is provided without any implied promise of employment. Some careers will require further education, skills, or competencies. Actual salaries may vary significantly between similar employers and could change by graduation, as could employment opportunities and job titles.