​​​​​​​​​​​Program Description

Learn the fundamental principles of the universe as you develop analytical skills that apply to careers in research, financial management, computing and teaching. Whether you want to study the behavior of matter and energy on the smallest scale (nuclei, atoms and other basic constituents of matter) or the grandest (stars and galaxies), CMU’s physics major offers something for everyone with concentrations in astronomy, chemistry-physics education and physics education.​​

Points of Pride

  • CMU’s Physics department has a high-powered partnership with Michigan State University that allows undergraduate and graduate students to do research at the $680 million, world-class Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. The FRIB laboratory will enable more than 1,000 nuclear physics scientists from around the world to conduct research producing the same rare isotopes found in stars or supernovae.
  • CMU has a newly installed 6,000-pound magnet in its Dow Science Building that supports research related to the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.
  • CMU is among eight universities and six labs nationally to be part of a $15 million, five-year project gaining insights into the physics of atomic nuclei.
  • CMU physics professor Marco Fornari and a six-scientist team have been awarded $8.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop and apply computational methods to replace expensive, rare chemical elements from critical technologies. Undergraduates can be involved in this research.

Put Your Degree to Work

​U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sample data

JobMedian PayJob Growth through ​2022​
Physicist$106,360 per year10% (2,400 more jobs)
Biophysicist$81,480 per year19% (5,400 more jobs)
Nuclear technician$69,060 per year15% (1,200 more jobs)

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
University Physics I
PHY 146
University Physics II
PHY 175
University Physics Laboratory I
PHY 176
University Physics Laboratory II
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
With the approval of an advisor, select courses having as prerequisite a course in the required major sequence.
Cognate Courses
Mathematics Prerequisites
MTH 334
Differential Equations
MTH 132
Calculus I
MTH 133
Calculus II
MTH 233
Calculus III

 Grads on Fire

Neil Saha, ’08, is a project engineer with Pontiac Coil Inc. in Clarkston, Michigan.

Monica Ghita, ’04, is a medical physicist with Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.

Kevin Richard, ’77, is a science and math education consultant and academic excellence teacher at Education Queensland in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Richard Scheel, ’75, is a senior program manager with Caradigm, a population health company with offices in the United States, London, Beijing and Hamburg.

Bill Nagengast, ’72, is chief operating officer for Continental Inc. in Anderson, Indiana.

CMU is an AA/EO institution, providing equal opportunity to all persons, including minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities. | CentralLink
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