Bachelor of Arts in Physics
Why study physics and astronomy?
Our goal is to understand the physical universe. The questions addressed by our department’s research and education missions range from the applied, such as an improved understanding of the materials that can be used for solar cell energy production, to foundational questions about the nature of mass and space and how the Universe was formed and subsequently evolved, and how astrophysical phenomena affected the Earth and its evolution. We study the properties of systems ranging in size from smaller than an atom to larger than a galaxy on timescales ranging from billionths of a second to the age of the universe. Our courses and laboratory/research experiences help students hone their problem solving and analytical skills and thereby become broadly trained critical thinkers. While about half of our majors move on to graduate studies in STEM, many find employment in the private sector in diverse careers ranging from financial analysts to physicians. Graduates of all our degree programs can be found in key positions regionally, nationally, and internationally. In this way, our department is at the forefront of telling the academic story of the University of Kansas to people around the state and around the world.
Undergraduate programs in physics and astronomy
We welcome all students curious about the universe around them. This includes not only students planning on graduate study in STEM, but also students from other disciplines where a background in foundational physical science and critical thinking can be useful – examples include teaching and medicine – and anyone seeking to include astronomy and physics as part of their general education. The department offers BA degrees in astronomy and physics and BS degrees in astronomy, physics, and engineering physics. Degrees in astronomy and physics are granted through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences whereas engineering physics degrees are granted through the School of Engineering. The primary degree offered is a BS in Physics. In addition to this standard BS in Physics, there are also interdisciplinary and pre-medicine versions (concentrations) of the BS in Physics degree. The interdisciplinary track allows students to take elective courses in other STEM disciplines and the pre-medicine emphasis is for students interested in health professions. We also offer minors in astronomy and physics and a certificate in astrophysics of origins. We involve our undergraduate majors in cutting-edge research practically from the day they join the department; research is a requirement of both the BS Astronomy and BS Physics degrees. The breadth of our research program affords our students exposure to a number of different fields and we are justifiably proud of our undergraduate researchers who routinely publish papers, attend conferences, and/or conduct research abroad (in locales such as Antarctica, Chile, and CERN).