B.A. in Physics

Physics Major (B.A.)

UNH students studying outside

What is a Bachelor of Arts in physics?

This degree program is tailored to students who want a broad education, and it’s excellent preparation for middle and high school physics teachers, pre-med and pre-law students, as well as those wishing to pursue a technical career in industry. With fewer required courses than the B.S., students pursing the B.A. have time to explore other academic interests.

Why study physics at UNH?

The program offers introductory physics in a lecture and studio format – an active learning environment that includes group work and labs all in a single room with a professor and graduate teaching assistants. This style allows for a coherent, connected and supportive experience. One studio course integrates the study of calculus and physics, for a deeper understanding of both subjects. You’ll have many opportunities to conduct research with physics faculty and other scientists, working on projects funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health and other agencies and organizations. You’ll learn how to approach, analyze and solve complex problems as you develop new technologies, methods and theories that will prepare you for a range of careers in research, engineering and education.

Potential Careers

  • Accelerator operator
  • Aerospace sciences
  • Applied optics
  • Engineering research
  • Fluids engineering and research
  • High school physics teacher
  • Materials research
  • Physical sciences technician
  • Software engineering
  • Systems engineering

Contact

Department of Physics
DeMeritt Hall 237A
9 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824

Phone: (603) 862-2669
Email: physics.dept@unh.edu  

  • Learning What She Didn't Know
    Before Lihy Buchbinder ’21 arrived at UNH, she had a cultural experience that few students have: In December 2014, having  finished high school, Buchbinder returned to her homeland to serve in the Israeli Army.
    Learning What She Didn't Know
    Before Lihy Buchbinder ’21 arrived at UNH, she had a cultural experience that few students have: In December 2014, having  finished high school, Buchbinder returned to her homeland to serve in the Israeli Army.

Curriculum & Requirements

This program provides an opportunity for a broad and liberal education, which in some cases may be sufficient for graduate work. This program can also be excellent preparation for middle and high school physics teachers, pre-med and pre-law students, and those wishing to pursue a technical career in industry. Because there are fewer required courses than for a B.S., you have time to pursue other academic interests. A judicious choice of electives may also prepare students for interdisciplinary programs that require proficiency in a specialized area of physics.

Suggested Curriculum for B.A. in Physics

In the following table, "other required courses" include Discovery courses, writing-intensive courses, language courses required for the B.A., and free-choice electives.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallCredits
PHYS 400 Physics Seminar I 1
PHYS 407 General Physics I 4
MATH 425 Calculus I 4
Other Required Courses 8
 Credits17
Spring
PHYS 408 General Physics II 4
MATH 426 Calculus II 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
CS 410P
or IAM 550
Introduction to Scientific Programming/Python
or Introduction to Engineering Computing
4
 Credits16
Second Year
Fall
PHYS 505
PHYS 506
General Physics III
and General Physics III Laboratory
4
MATH 525
or MATH 527
Linearity I
or Differential Equations with Linear Algebra
4-6
PHYS 601 Computational Physics Recitation I 1
Other Required Courses 8
 Credits17-19
Spring
PHYS 615 Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Physics I 4
MATH 526
or MATH 528
Linearity II
or Multidimensional Calculus
4-6
PHYS 602 Computational Physics Recitation II 1
Other Required Courses 8
 Credits17-19
Third Year
Fall
PHYS 616 Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Physics II 4
PHYS 701 Quantum Mechanics I 4
Other Required Courses 8
 Credits16
Spring
PHYS 703 Electricity and Magnetism I 4
PHYS 605 Experimental Physics I 5
Other Required Courses 8
 Credits17
Fourth Year
Fall
PHYS 705 Experimental Physics II 4
PHYS 508 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 4
Other Required Courses 4
Capstone 4
 Credits16
Spring
Other Required Courses 12
Capstone 4
 Credits16
 Total Credits132-136
University Discovery Program requirements 1
Bachelor of Arts Degree requirements
PHYS 400Physics Seminar I1
PHYS 407General Physics I4
PHYS 408General Physics II4
CS 410PIntroduction to Scientific Programming/Python4
or IAM 550 Introduction to Engineering Computing
PHYS 505
PHYS 506
General Physics III
and General Physics III Laboratory
4
PHYS 508Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics4
PHYS 601Computational Physics Recitation I1
PHYS 602Computational Physics Recitation II1
PHYS 605Experimental Physics I5
PHYS 615Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Physics I4
PHYS 616Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Physics II4
PHYS 701Quantum Mechanics I4
PHYS 703Electricity and Magnetism I4
PHYS 705Experimental Physics II4
Capstone: 22-8
PHYS 795
PHYS 799
Independent Study
and Thesis
or INCO 790
PHYS 799
Advanced Research Experience
and Thesis
or PHYS 798
Senior Project
Mathematics:
MATH 425Calculus I4
MATH 426Calculus II4
Select one of the following Options8-12
Option A:
MATH 527
MATH 528
Differential Equations with Linear Algebra
and Multidimensional Calculus
Option B:
MATH 525
MATH 526
Linearity I
and Linearity II
Total Credits66-76
1

 Note that no physics course can satisfy these requirement for a physics major. The rationale behind this is that a course in physics does not broaden the education of a physics major.

2

 A capstone experience is required of all physics majors during their senior year. The Physics Department encourages students to write a senior thesis (PHYS 799 Thesis) for their capstone experience. Other options include independent study research projects (PHYS 795 Independent Study or INCO 590 Student Research Experience) or a special project as part of senior lab (PHYS 705 Experimental Physics II). All capstone experiences must be approved by the undergraduate committee during the student's penultimate semester.

  • Students will master the fundamentals of mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics.
  • Students will have a solid understanding of calculus and differential equations and be able to use mathematics to solve physics problems.
  • Students will be proficient at taking measurements in a physics lab and analyzing measurements to draw valid conclusions.
  • Students will be able to integrate competently the knowledge and skills acquired in the major and have adequate preparation to succeed in post-undergraduate studies or a professional career.
  • Students develop and execute plans for post-graduation to establish their careers. Student will understand the variety of career paths and opportunities that are open to students who have majored in physics.
  • Students will be able to present scientific ideas effectively in both written and oral form.

Explore Program Details

The following gives a suggested schedule for a student obtaining a B.A. in Physics. Please note that Physics courses numbered 500 and higher are offered only once a year, and elective courses (numbered above 706) are typically offered only every other year. Only 400 level physics courses are offered in the summer (and even these are not guaranteed to be offered at that time.) Also, most courses above 600 have several physics and mathematics prerequisites. All this means that the schedule given below is somewhat rigid (although Physics 508, 701 and 703 can be taken in any order in the last two years). If you feel you need to deviate from this schedule for any reason, it is best to do so in consultation with your Physics advisor.

There are spaces for seventeen electives. These spaces must be used to fulfill the following requirements:

  • the two writing intensive requirements (in addition to ENG 401 and PHYS 705)
  • the eight general education requirements (in addition to ENG 401 and MATH 425)

Note that many courses are both general education courses and writing intensive, so you can fulfill these requirements with as few as eight courses. The remaining electives can be used to pursue other academic interests.

take the next step

student outside building on campus
LEARN HOW TO APPLY
Students on the lawn at Thompson Hall
SCHEDULE A VISIT
student at career event
REQUEST INFORMATION