Physics Major

Why study physics at CMU?

CMU offers a rigorous physics program that promotes thoughtful inquiry and will prepare you for graduate studies or a physics-related career. Consider these key features of this program:

  • CMU's new supercomputer runs 30 times faster than computers on any other Michigan university campus
  • CMU is among eight universities and six laboratories nationally that are part of a $15 million, five-year project to gain new insights into the physics of atomic nuclei
  • Brooks Hall Astronomical Observatory
  • Professional development through organizations such as the Society of Physics Students

Career outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, for all occupations through the year 2014:

  • Competition for jobs is expected, but graduates with a physics or astronomy degree at any level will find their knowledge of science and mathematics useful for many other occupations.
  • Persons with a bachelor's degree in physics or astronomy may qualify for a wide range of positions related to engineering, mathematics, computer science, and environmental science; and, for those with the appropriate background, some nonscience fields, such as finance.
  • Those who meet state certification requirements can become high school physics teachers, an occupation in strong demand in many districts.

Career options

Graduates of the physics program at CMU will find a variety of career opportunities. Some of these may require additional education.

  • Astronomer
  • College or University Professor
  • Environmental Scientist
  • High School Science Teacher
  • Laboratory Assistant
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Physicist
  • Researcher
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer


Program Overview

The course listings below are a representation of what this academic program requires. For a full review of this program in detail please see our official online academic bulletin AND consult with an academic advisor. This listing does not include the General Education courses required for all majors and may not include some program specific information, such as admissions, retention, and termination standards.

(Click on the course name or number for a complete course description.)

Physics Major

Total: 38-53 semester hours
Core Courses
(35 hours)
University Physics I
PHY 146
University Physics II
PHY 175
University Physics Laboratory I
PHY 176
University Physics Laboratory II
PHY 247
Introduction to Modern Physics
PHY 277
University Physics Laboratory III
PHY 312
Introduction to Mathematical Physics
PHY 322
Intermediate Mechanics
PHY 332
Electricity and Magnetism
PHY 442
Introductory Quantum Theory
PHY 450
Thermal Physics
PHY 491
Senior Physics Project
PHY 578
Experimental Physics
(3 hours)
With the approval of an advisor, select courses having as prerequisite a course in the required major sequence.
Cognate Courses
(0-15 hours)
Mathematics Prerequisites
MTH 132
Calculus I
MTH 133
Calculus II
MTH 233
Calculus III
MTH 334
Differential Equations

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