Physics Major, B.A.

Department of Physics and Astronomy

http://physics.unc.edu

Phillips Hall, CB# 3255

(919) 962-2078

Logan Phillips, Student Services Coordinator, Physics and Astronomy

lmphilli@email.unc.edu

Dr. Frank Tsui, Director of Undergraduate Studies

ftsui@physics.unc.edu

Dr. Christian Iliadis, Physics Advisor (students with last names beginning with A–D)

iliadis@physics.unc.edu

Dr. Fabian Heitsch, Physics Advisor (students with last names beginning with E–K)

fheitsch@email.unc.edu

Dr. Jennifer Weinberg-Wolf, Physics Advisor (students with last names beginning with L–R)

jweinber@physics.unc.edu

Dr. Yue Wu, Academic Advisor (students with last names beginning with S–Z)

yuewu@physics.unc.edu

The goal of physics is a unified description of the properties of matter and energy. The study of matter and energy encompasses a range of phenomena, from the subnuclear to the cosmological. Physics seeks to understand the way the universe “works,” from the very small scale (quarks and neutrinos) to the human scale (materials encountered in daily life) to the structure of the cosmos. Different approaches and technologies are used in these different regimes.

Department Programs

Majors

Minors

Graduate Programs

Requirements 

In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC-Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Physics Major, B.A. Options:

Physics Major, B.A.–Standard Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity (gateway)4
PHYS 119Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics3
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism3
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 281LExperimental Techniques in Physics2
PHYS 331Introduction to Numerical Techniques in Physics4
Nine additional credits chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) and PHYS (numbered above 200)9
Additional Requirements
CHEM 101
101L
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I3
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II3
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H3
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours49
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Astronomy (ASTR) and Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A.–Astronomy Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity (gateway)4
PHYS 119Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics3
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism3
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 281LExperimental Techniques in Physics2
PHYS 331Introduction to Numerical Techniques in Physics4
Six additional credits chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300)6
Three additional credits chosen from:3
ASTR (numbered above 300)
Physical Computing
Research with Faculty Mentor I
Research with Faculty Mentor II H
Imaging Science: From Cells to Stars
Senior Honor Thesis Research I
Senior Honor Thesis Research II
Additional Requirements
ASTR 101Introduction to Astronomy: The Solar System H3
ASTR 101LIntroduction to Astronomy Laboratory: Our Place in Space1
or ASTR 111L Educational Research in Radio Astronomy
ASTR 102Introduction to Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies & Cosmology H3
ASTR 301Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology1
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I3
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II3
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H3
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours49
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Astronomy (ASTR) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A.–Biological Physics Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity (gateway)4
PHYS 119Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics3
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism3
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 281LExperimental Techniques in Physics2
PHYS 331Introduction to Numerical Techniques in Physics4
PHYS 405Biological Physics3
PHYS 441Thermal Physics3
or CHEM 481 Physical Chemistry I
PHYS 585Imaging Science: From Cells to Stars (capstone)3
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101Principles of Biology H3
CHEM 101
101L
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I3
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II3
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H3
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Six additional credits chosen from:6
BIOL (numbered above 200)
Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H
Introduction to Organic Chemistry II H
Introduction to Biological Chemistry H
PHYS (numbered above 200)
Total Hours58
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Biology (BIOL) course descriptions.

Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A.–Energy Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity (gateway)4
PHYS 119Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta4
PHYS 131Energy: Physical Principles and the Quest for Alternatives to Dwindling Oil and Gas3
PHYS 131LEnergy: Physical Principles and the Quest for Alternatives to Dwindling Oil and Gas1
or PHYS 281L Experimental Techniques in Physics
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics3
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism3
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 331Introduction to Numerical Techniques in Physics4
PHYS 351Electronics I4
PHYS 581Renewable Electric Power Systems3
or PHYS 582 Decarbonizing Fuels
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101
101L
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
4
BIOL 202Molecular Biology and Genetics H4
or BIOL 271 Plant Biology
CHEM 101
101L
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM 102General Descriptive Chemistry II H3
CHEM 261Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H3
CHEM 481Physical Chemistry I3
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I3
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II3
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H3
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours62
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Physics Major, B.A.–Quantitative Finance Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity (gateway)4
PHYS 119Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics3
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism3
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 281LExperimental Techniques in Physics2
PHYS 331Introduction to Numerical Techniques in Physics4
PHYS 441Thermal Physics3
or CHEM 481 Physical Chemistry I
Six additional credits chosen from BUSI (numbered above 400), MATH (numbered above 200), and PHYS (numbered above 200)6
Additional Requirements
BUSI 408Corporate Finance 13
BUSI 580Investments H3
BUSI 588Introduction to Derivative Securities and Risk Management H1.5
BUSI 589Fixed Income H1.5
BUSI 600Risk Management1.5
BUSI 688Applied Derivatives H1.5
CHEM 101General Descriptive Chemistry I3
CHEM 102General Descriptive Chemistry II H3
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I3
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II3
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H3
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours59
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

1

BUSI 101 and ECON 410 are prerequisites for BUSI 408.

Business Administration (BUSI) course descriptions.

Mathematics (MATH) course descriptions.

Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

As part of these course requirements, candidates for the B.A. degree must earn grades of C (not C-) or better in at least 18 credit hours of courses that are listed under Core Requirements.

Special Opportunities in Physics and Astronomy

Honors in Physics and Astronomy

The honors program offers exceptionally well-qualified students an opportunity to perform original research with a faculty member and graduate with honors or highest honors. It requires an overall grade point average of at least 3.3 and a grade point average of at least 3.4 for physics courses at the end of the junior year.

Students who wish to enter the honors program should consult with the departmental coordinator for the program no later than the preregistration period in the spring semester of their junior year.

Departmental Involvement

The Society of Physics Students, open to anyone interested in physics, builds connections between undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and alumni. The society invites visitors to give talks and sponsors a number of events for students each year. Women in Physics at UNC–Chapel Hill, an organization that aims to provide resources, advice, and an encouraging social atmosphere for women in the field of physics, welcomes physics majors and all women interested in physics.

UNC–BEST

The UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (UNC–BEST) Program is a collaboration between the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences and is designed to allow undergraduate science majors interested in teaching high school science the opportunity to earn their science degree and obtain licensure as a North Carolina high school science teacher in four years. UNC–BEST students meet all the degree requirements for their degree using PHYS 410 as one of their upper-level physics courses. UNC–BEST students also fulfill teaching licensure coursework requirements as well as many General Education and elective requirements as they complete 10 credit hours in teaching and learning, including EDUC 516 or EDUC 689 or EDUC 690, EDUC 532, and EDUC 615. During their final semester, students engage in a full-time student teaching internship (EDUC 593) and participate in an education leadership seminar (EDUC 601). For more details on admission requirements, application deadlines, and submitting an online application, visit the School of Education Web site: soe.unc.edu/academics/uncbest.

Undergraduate Awards

The department gives awards each year to the senior (Shearin Award) and junior (Johnson Award) who demonstrate the greatest achievement. In addition, the department awards the major with the most research achievement the Robert Sheldon Award for Undergraduate Research.

Undergraduate Research

All majors conduct at least one semester of research under the supervision of a faculty member. Many enjoy the experience so much that they continue for several semesters. An approved learning contract is required prior to registering for PHYS 295 and PHYS 395, and students must be registered within the first week of classes.