Physics student

The B.S. in physics program features a strong foundation in the core physics curriculum of quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, classical mechanics and electromagnetism. Upper-level electives span a variety of fields, including optics, electronics and nanotechnology. We are also proud to offer one-on-one research with faculty mentors for students interested in pursuing graduate school in physics or engineering. Equipped with critical thinking and analytical skills, our graduates are well-prepared for jobs in a wide range of industries.

Program Details

Course Information

Click below for information on course requirements, course descriptions and the Academic Rhode Map, which lists all the courses you will need to complete this program and graduate in a timely fashion.

Course Requirements

Course Descriptions – Physics

Course Descriptions – Physical Science

Academic Rhode Map

Program/Learning Goals

Upon completion of this program, students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Field knowledge. A thorough knowledge, both descriptive and quantitative, of the principles and methods of the field, including an understanding of the questions addressed by the discipline, an appreciation for the historical development of the field and an understanding of the limitations inherent in its study.
  2. Problem-solving skills. The ability to interpret and solve theoretical and applied problems using established or new techniques.
  3. Lab skills. The acquisition of a complete set of laboratory skills, including the ability to collect and analyze data using a variety of instrumental and computational techniques, the ability to understand the applicability of each technique to a particular problem and the ability to work cooperatively with their peers.
  4. Research skills. The ability to plan and carry out research using proper methods, including the use of scientific literature to obtain information.
  5. Communication skills. The ability to clearly and correctly communicate scientific results and concepts in both spoken and written form.
  6. Safety skills. The ability to use proper safety measures, to recognize and avoid hazards and to recognize, handle and properly dispose of hazardous materials.
  7. Ethics. Understand the ethical responsibilities of a physicist/chemist, including the importance of honesty in all scientific endeavors and the consideration of the social and environmental ramifications of their field.​

Writing in the Discipline

1. In what ways is writing important to your profession?

Writing is critical in both chemistry and physics, both in the research process itself and to communicate scientific findings to a wider audience. Writing is important throughout the research process to keep an accurate record of the motivation, design, results and conclusions of an experiment. After the experiment is complete, it is critical that the findings be communicated to the wider community. This could mean communicating to other scientists who will build on these findings, to government or private employers who will use them to guide policy or to design technology or to the general public to help them make informed decisions on scientific issues.

2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?

PHYS 313: Junior Lab
PHYS 413: Senior lab

In these courses, you will engage in a series of experiments and are expected to keep an accurate lab notebook. In Junior Lab, you will be introduced to the various sections of the formal lab report and learn what information should be included in each section. In Senior Lab, you will learn to put all the pieces together to produce a complete formal lab report.

3. What forms or genres of writing will you learn and practice in your WID courses? Why these genres?​

You will focus primarily on two genres of writing. These genres are related to the two purposes of writing in physics and chemistry: to record the research process and to communicate scientific findings to a wider audience.

For the first purpose, you will focus on keeping a lab notebook. A lab notebook is not just a compilation of data, but a narrative of the entirety of the experiment. It is not only a document kept for personal use but can also have legal, financial and ethical implications. The keeping of an accurate and properly formatted lab notebook is a critical skill for a scientist.

For the second purpose, you will focus on the formal lab report. This format is similar in many ways to that of professional journal articles in physics and chemistry. These types of articles are the main way scientists communicate their findings to the broader scientific community. 

4. What kinds of teaching practices will you encounter in your WID courses?

You will get explicit instruction and feedback on how to keep a lab notebook and write formal lab reports. This includes the correct format for these genres as well as how to use scientific literature as a resource, how to correctly present results and draw conclusions and how to correctly cite scientific literature. For the formal lab reports, you will produce multiple drafts of the reports and receive feedback both from your instructors and in peer review.

5. When you have satisfied your department’s WID requirement, you should be able to:

Keep an accurate and correctly formatted lab notebook and write a correctly formatted formal lab report. This includes knowing the purpose of each section of the report (abstract, introduction, experimental methods, etc.); using data to support scientific conclusions; and communicating to other scientists in the discipline as well as to a broader audience.