B.S. in Physics

Physics Major (B.S.)

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What is a Bachelor of Science in physics?

This program prepares students for careers in physics and a broad range of related disciplines, such as systems engineering and medical physics. Students will develop the technical skills needed to explore fundamental aspects of the universe, from subatomic particles to the origin of the cosmos. 

Why study physics at UNH?

This 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. The 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. The program offers concentrations in astronomy, materials science and chemical physics, which allows students to focus their learning at the undergraduate level. You’ll have many research opportunities with physics faculty and research 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
  • Medical physics
  • Physical sciences technician
  • Software engineering
  • Systems engineering


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

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

Curriculum & Requirements

The bachelor of science degree in physics prepares students for professional work as physicists, and is the first step toward graduate work in physics. It is also excellent preparation for graduate programs in medicine, law, or engineering, as well as for technical jobs in industry. The required courses are those typically necessary for admission to graduate study in physics or astronomy.

Suggested Curriculum for B.S. in Physics

In this degree plan, "electives" include Discovery courses, Writing Intensive Courses, Physics electives, or electives required to meet 128 credit graduation requirement.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
PHYS 400 Physics Seminar I 1
PHYS 407 General Physics I 4
MATH 425 Calculus I 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
CHEM 403
or CHEM 405
General Chemistry I
or Chemical Principles for Engineers
PHYS 408 General Physics II 4
MATH 426 Calculus II 4
CS 410P
or IAM 550
Introduction to Scientific Programming/Python
or Introduction to Engineering Computing
Discovery Elective 4
Second Year
PHYS 505
PHYS 506
General Physics III
and General Physics III Laboratory
PHYS 508 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 4
MATH 528
or MATH 525
Multidimensional Calculus
or Linearity I
PHYS 601 Computational Physics Recitation I 1
Discovery Elective 4
PHYS 615 Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Physics I 4
PHYS 605 Experimental Physics I 5
PHYS 602 Computational Physics Recitation II 1
Select one of the following two options: 8 or 6
(1) For students who took MATH 528:
MATH 527
MATH 645
Differential Equations with Linear Algebra
and Linear Algebra for Applications
(2) For students who took MATH 525:
MATH 526
Linearity II
Third Year
PHYS 616 Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Physics II 4
PHYS 701 Quantum Mechanics I 4
Discovery or Major Electives 8
PHYS 702 Quantum Mechanics II 4
PHYS 703 Electricity and Magnetism I 4
Discovery or Major Electives 8
Fourth Year
PHYS 704 Electricity and Magnetism II 4
PHYS 705 Experimental Physics II 4
Discovery or Major Elective 4
Capstone 4
Electives 12
Capstone 4
 Total Credits128-132
University Discovery requirements 1
Bachelor of Science requirements
Minimum physics requirements:
PHYS 400Physics Seminar I1
PHYS 407General Physics I4
PHYS 408General Physics II4
PHYS 505
PHYS 506
General Physics III
and General Physics III Laboratory
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 702Quantum Mechanics II4
PHYS 703Electricity and Magnetism I4
PHYS 704Electricity and Magnetism II4
PHYS 705Experimental Physics II4
Select two electives from the following:8
PHYS 708
PHYS 710
Astrophysics I
PHYS 712
Space Plasma Physics
PHYS 718
Condensed Matter Physics
PHYS 720
Nuclear Physics
PHYS 764
General Relativity and Cosmology
MATH 747
Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
MATH 753
Introduction to Numerical Methods I
CHEM 403General Chemistry I4
or CHEM 405 Chemical Principles for Engineers
MATH 425
MATH 426
Calculus I
and Calculus II
Select one of the following options: 212
Option A:
MATH 525
MATH 526
Linearity I
and Linearity II 2
Option B:
MATH 528
Multidimensional Calculus
MATH 527
Differential Equations with Linear Algebra
MATH 545
Introduction to Linear Algebra
or MATH 645
Linear Algebra for Applications
Computer Programming:
CS 410PIntroduction to Scientific Programming/Python4
or IAM 550 Introduction to Engineering Computing
Capstone: 32-8
PHYS 795
PHYS 799
Independent Study
and Thesis
or INCO 790
PHYS 799
Advanced Research Experience
and Thesis
or PHYS 798
Senior Project
Total Credits90-96

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. 


The Department generally recommends MATH 645 Linear Algebra for Applications over MATH 545 Introduction to Linear Algebra for physics majors.


 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.

By the end of the spring semester of the sophomore year, a student must have a minimum grade of C in each 400- or 500-level course specifically required for the B.S. degree and an overall grade-point average of at least 2.33 in these courses in order to continue in the B.S. program. 

Physics Electives

In the following table, "electives" include Discovery courses, writing-intensive courses, physics electives, and free-choice electives. Note that physics electives can only be taken in the junior or senior year because of prerequisites, and are in general offered every other year.

PHYS 708Optics4
PHYS 710Astrophysics I4
PHYS 712Space Plasma Physics4
PHYS 718Condensed Matter Physics4
PHYS 720Nuclear Physics4
PHYS 764General Relativity and Cosmology4
  • Students will master the fundamentals of mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics.
  • Students will have a solid understanding of calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra and be able to use mathematics to solve physics problems.
  • Students will be able to solve physics problems using computational methods.
  • Students will be proficient at taking measurements in a physics lab and analyzing measurements to draw valid conclusions.
  • Students will be well prepared for graduate study in physics and related disciplines.
  • Students will be well prepared for technical careers.
  • Students will be able to present scientific ideas effectively in both written and oral form.

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