Why study physics and astronomy?

Because understanding the physical universe starts here.

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

Requirements for the B.A. Major in Physics

All students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Physics must complete the KU Core requirements and the College BA specific requirements, listed in the KU Core and College sections of the catalog.

Bachelor of Arts in Physics Major Course Requirements

Foundational Physics and Mathematics (17.5)
Majors must complete courses as specified in each of the following areas. Majors are advised to take honors courses when eligible. All honors equivalents are also acceptable to fulfill PHSX major requirements.
Seminar in Physics, Astronomy, & Engineering Physics. Satisfied by:
PHSX 150Seminar in Physics, Astronomy and Engineering Physics0.5
General Physics I. Satisfied by one of the following:5
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
General Physics I Honors
General Physics II. Satisfied by one of the following:4
General Physics II
and General Physics II Laboratory
General Physics II Honors
Calculus I. Satisfied by:
MATH 125Calculus I4
or MATH 145 Calculus I, Honors
Calculus II. Satisfied by:
MATH 126Calculus II4
or MATH 146 Calculus II, Honors
Advanced Math Requirement (6)
MATH 127Calculus III4
or MATH 147 Calculus III, Honors
Elementary Linear Algebra. Satisfied by:
MATH 290Elementary Linear Algebra2
or MATH 291 Elementary Linear Algebra, Honors
Differential Equations. Satisfied by one of the following:
Applied Differential Equations
Elementary Differential Equations (recommended)
Advance Physics Major Requirements (17)
Majors must complete a course in each of the following areas:
General Physics III. Satisfied by:
PHSX 313General Physics III3
Intermediate Physics Lab. Satisfied by:
PHSX 316Intermediate Physics Laboratory I1
Introductory Quantum Mechanics. Satisfied by:
PHSX 511Introductory Quantum Mechanics3
Mechanics I. Satisfied by:
PHSX 521Mechanics I3
Electricity and Magnetism. Satisfied by:
PHSX 531Electricity and Magnetism3
Electronic Circuit Measurement and Design. Satisfied by:
PHSX 536Electronic Circuit Measurement and Design4
or PHSX 516 Physical Measurements
Physics Required Elective (3)
Satisfied by any lecture or laboratory course numbered 500 or higher.3

Physics Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses (above), majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 30 hours of major courses.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major. 

Major Junior/Senior (300+) Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 12 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior (300+) Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

Concentration in Computational Physics

Physics Prerequisite or Co-requisite Knowledge (27)
Majors must complete courses as specified in each of the following areas. Majors are advised to take honors courses when eligible. These hours do not contribute to the minimum number of hours required for the major.
Programming I. Satisfied by:
EECS 168Programming I4
Programming II. Satisfied by:
EECS 268Programming II4
Elementary Linear Algebra. Satisfied by:
MATH 290Elementary Linear Algebra2
Elementary or Applied Differential Equations. Satisfied by:
MATH 220Applied Differential Equations3
or MATH 320 Elementary Differential Equations
Foundations of Chemistry I. Satisfied by:
CHEM 130General Chemistry I5
or CHEM 150 Chemistry for Engineers
or CHEM 170 Chemistry for the Chemical Sciences I
or CHEM 190 Foundations of Chemistry I, Honors
Principles of Biology. Satisfied by:
BIOL 100Principles of Biology3
Introduction to Symbolic Logic. Satisfied by:
PHIL 310Introduction to Symbolic Logic3
Economics. Satisfied by:
ECON 142Principles of Microeconomics3
or ECON 144 Principles of Macroeconomics
Physics Core Knowledge and Skills (27.5)
Majors must complete a course in each of the following areas:
Seminar in Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Physics. Satisfied by:
PHSX 150Seminar in Physics, Astronomy and Engineering Physics0.5
General Physics I. Satisfied by one of the following:5
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
General Physics I Honors
General Physics II. Satisfied by one of the following:
General Physics II
and General Physics II Laboratory
General Physics II Honors
General Physics III and Intermediate Physics Laboratory. Satisfied by:
PHSX 313
PHSX 316
General Physics III
and Intermediate Physics Laboratory I
4
Mechanics I. Satisfied by:
PHSX 521Mechanics I3
Electricity and Magnetism. Satisfied by:
PHSX 531Electricity and Magnetism3
Electronic Circuit Measurement and Design. Satisfied by:
PHSX 536Electronic Circuit Measurement and Design4
or PHSX 516 Physical Measurements
Special Problems. Satisfied by:
PHSX 500Special Problems5
Numerical and Computational Methods in Physics. Satisfied by:
PHSX 615Numerical and Computational Methods in Physics3

Below is a sample 4-year plan for students pursuing the BA in Physics. To view the list of courses approved to fulfill KU Core Goals, please visit the KU Core website.

This degree plan assumes students will have the equivalent of MATH 101 or MATH 104 prior to freshman year, fall semester.

Freshman
FallHoursSpringHours
ENGL 101 (Goal 2.1 (2 crs req), BA Writing I)13ENGL 102 (Goal 2.1 (2 crs req), BA Writing II)3
1st Semester Language (BA Second Language)52nd Semester Language (BA Second Language)5
First Year Seminar (Goal 1.1 Critical Thinking)3MATH 126 (Major Pre-requisite)4
MATH 125 (Major Pre-requisite)4PHSX 211
PHSX 216 (Goal 3 Natural Science, Major Requirement), or
5
PHSX 150 (Major Requirement)0.5 
 15.5 17
Sophomore
FallHoursSpringHours
3rd Semester Language (BA Second Language)34th Semester Language, or 1st semester of Another Language (BA Second Language)3-5
Goal 2.2 Communication3Goal 3 Humanities3
Goal 3 Social Science3MATH 290 or 291 (Major Pre-requisite)2
PHSX 212
PHSX 236 (Major Requirement), or
4PHSX 313 (Major Requirement)33
 PHSX 316 (Major Requirement)1
MATH 320 or 220 (Major Pre-requisite)3Elective or possible minor course (Total Hours)3
 16 15-17
Junior
FallHoursSpringHours
Goal 4.1 US Diversity3Goal 4.2 Global Awareness3
PHSX 511 (Major Requirement)3Goal 5 Social Responsibility & Ethics 3
MATH 127 (Major Prequisite)4PHSX 521 (Major Requirement)3
Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3
Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3
 16 15
Senior
FallHoursSpringHours
PHSX 531 (Major Requirement)3Goal 6 Integration & Creativity63
PHSX 516 or 536 (Major Requirement)44PHSX Lecture or Lab Elective 500+ (Major Requirement)53
Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3PHSX 536 or 516 (or elective (Major Requirement))44
Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3
 Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)1
 13 14
Total Hours: 121.5-123.5
1

The BA requires completion of two courses of collegiate-level writing instruction. Students who test out of Composition will still need to complete ENGL 102 (or equivalent) and one additional Goal 2.1 course.  

2

Prerequisite for MATH 125: MATH 104; or MATH 103; or three years of college preparatory mathematics including trigonometry and a score of 28 or higher on ACT mathematics; or a qualifying score on the mathematics placement test.

3

MATH 320 or MATH 220 is a pre-requisite for PHSX 313.

4

Either PHSX 536 or PHSX 516 is required for the major, not both. PHSX 516 is typically taught in the fall, and PHSX 536 is often taught in the spring.

5

A 500+ level Physics laboratory or lecture elective is required for the major.

6

It is recommended that students fulfill Goal 6 with a course from within their major.  PHSX 503: Undergraduate Research is not required by the major, but is an encouraged course to fulfill Goal 6 and to fulfill research experience. 

Please note:

All students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are required to complete 120 total hours of which 45 hours must be at the Jr/Sr (300+) level.

The same course cannot be used to fulfill more than one KU Core Goal. However, overlap of a KU Core course with a major or degree-specific requirement is allowed. Overlapping is recommended to allow more opportunities to explore other majors and/or minors.

Departmental Honors in Physics and Astronomy

Qualified students earning either a B.A. or a B.S. degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a major in astronomy or physics may graduate with Honors in Physics & Astronomy by fulfilling the following requirements: (1) By the end of the candidate's final semester, achieve a minimum GPA of 3.25 overall and 3.5 in the major, in all courses taken in residence and elsewhere; and (2) Complete at least 24 semester hours of astronomy and physics courses numbered 500 or above, including undergraduate research represented by two hours of credit in ASTR 597, ASTR 503, PHSX 501 or PHSX 503. A grade of B or better must be earned in one of the following: ASTR 597, ASTR 503, PHSX 501 or PHSX 503.  In addition, all of our department’s honors requirements include student research, for which results shall be presented in at least one of the following forms: (1) a written research summary, read by 3 faculty members in physics and astronomy or related fields or authorship on a peer-reviewed manuscript;  (2) a research-based oral presentation at an appropriate venue (e.g., Undergraduate Research symposium, a presentation in an advanced department seminar class, a discipline specific meeting); or (3) presentation of a poster at an appropriate venue.  A student who plans to graduate with honors in physics and astronomy must file a Declaration of Intent Form with the Departmental Honors Coordinator, preferably during his/her junior year but in any case no later than enrollment for the final undergraduate semester.​