Physics Major, B.A.

Everything around you is influenced or governed by physics — the study of matter, energy, and their interactions with one another. Physics seeks to understand the way the universe “works,” from the smallest neutrinos to the structure of the cosmos. It is the foundation of all other natural sciences, including chemistry, biology, oceanography, geography, and radiography.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers eight degree tracks:

  • B.A. Physics
    • Physics
    • Astronomy
    • Computational Physics
    • Energy
    • Medical and Biological Physics
    • Quantitative Finance
  • B.S. Physics
    • Physics 
    • Astrophysics

Consider a B.A. degree if you’re interested in physics but want to apply your training toward a wider variety of career paths after graduation. Students who completed this program have launched careers as lab researchers, application engineers, data scientists, and financial analysts, among other occupations. Some have also pursued an advanced degree in physics, medical physics, business, law, or computer science.

Consider a B.S. degree if you intend to pursue graduate study in physics, astronomy, or a related field, or a career practicing physics.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the physics program, students should be able to:  

  • Demonstrate knowledge of major concepts, theoretical reasoning, and empirical findings in physics and/or astronomy — Knowledge Base in Physics
  • Apply knowledge of physics and mathematics to solve problems — Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Effectively conduct research under guidance of faculty member — Research and the Advancement of Physics and Astronomy
  • Gain entry to top graduate programs, employment as physicists in industry, teaching positions in high school physics and astronomy, or apply their skills in other rewarding careers — Preparation for Future Career

Requirements 

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Physics Major, B.A. – Standard Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F4
PHYS 119IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F4
PHYS 281LIDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics3
PHYS 331Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics 23
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism 13
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 421Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 23
Nine additional credits chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) and PHYS (numbered above 200)9
Additional Requirements
MATH 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F4
MATH 232IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F4
MATH 233IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
CHEM 101
101L
IDEAs in Action General Education logo General Descriptive Chemistry I
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I F
4
Total Hours52
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Fall course.

2

Spring course.

Astronomy (ASTR) and Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A. – Astronomy Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F4
PHYS 119IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F4
PHYS 281LIDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics3
PHYS 331Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics 23
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism 13
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 421Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 23
Six additional credits chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300)6
Three additional credits chosen from:3
ASTR (numbered above 300)
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Physical Computing 2
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Research with Faculty Mentor I
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Research with Faculty Mentor II
Imaging Science: From Cells to Stars
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Senior Honor Thesis Research I
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Senior Honor Thesis Research II
Additional Requirements
One of the following courses:3
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Understanding the Universe
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Astronomy: The Solar System
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies & Cosmology
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Alien Life in the Universe
ASTR 100LIDEAs in Action General Education logo Astronomy with Skynet: Our Place in Space1
or ASTR 111 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Educational Research in Radio Astronomy
ASTR 202Introduction to Astrophysics 13
MATH 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F4
MATH 232IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F4
MATH 233IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours55
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

 Fall course.

2

 Spring course.

Astronomy (ASTR) and Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A. – Computational Physics Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F4
PHYS 119IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F4
PHYS 281LIDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics3
PHYS 331Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I4
PHYS 332Numerical Techniques for the Sciences II 14
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics 23
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism 13
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 421Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 23
Three additional credits chosen from:3
Quantum Computing
Foundations of Programming
Three additional credits chosen from:3
Introduction to Astrophysics 1
ASTR (numbered above 300)
PHYS (numbered above 200) 3
COMP (numbered above 420)
Linear Algebra for Applications
Linear Algebra
Introduction to Probability
Additional Requirements
MATH 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F4
MATH 232IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F4
MATH 233IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
COMP 110IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Programming and Data Science H3
COMP 210Data Structures and Analysis3
COMP 283IDEAs in Action General Education logo Discrete Structures H3
or MATH 381 Discrete Mathematics
Total Hours58
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Fall course.

2

Spring course.

3

PHYS 594 and PHYS 632 are recommended. 

Astronomy (ASTR) and Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Computer Science (COMP) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A. – Energy Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F4
PHYS 119IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F4
PHYS 281LIDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics3
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics 23
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism 13
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Physical Computing 24
PHYS 331Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I4
PHYS 351Electronics I 14
PHYS 421Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 23
PHYS 441Thermal Physics 13
PHYS 131Energy: Physical Principles and the Quest for Alternatives to Dwindling Oil and Gas3
PHYS 131LEnergy: Physical Principles and the Quest for Alternatives to Dwindling Oil and Gas1
PHYS 581Renewable Electric Power Systems3
or PHYS 582 Decarbonizing Fuels
Additional Requirements
MATH 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F4
MATH 232IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F4
MATH 233IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours57
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Fall course.

2

Spring course.

Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A. – Medical and Biological Physics Option

Core Requirements
PHYS 118IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F4
PHYS 119IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F4
PHYS 281LIDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics3
PHYS 331Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics 23
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism 13
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 421Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 23
PHYS 405Biological Physics3
PHYS 461Introduction to Medical Physics3
or PHYS 586 Introduction to Biomedical Imaging Science
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101IDEAs in Action General Education logo Principles of Biology H, F3
CHEM 101
101L
IDEAs in Action General Education logo General Descriptive Chemistry I
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I F
4
CHEM 102IDEAs in Action General Education logo General Descriptive Chemistry II H, F3
MATH 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F4
MATH 232IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F4
MATH 233IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Three additional credits chosen from:3
BIOL (numbered above 200)
Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H
Introduction to Organic Chemistry II H
Introduction to Biological Chemistry H
PHYS (numbered above 200) 3
Total Hours58
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Fall course.

2

Spring course.

3

PHYS 295 and PHYS 395 with research projects in medical and biological physics, and Introduction to Magnetic Resonance (PHYS 529) are recommended.

Biology (BIOL) course descriptions.

Chemistry (CHEM) course descriptions.

Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Physics Major, B.A. – Quantitative Finance Option

The program requirements were updated on 10-31-2022 to correct an oversight at the time of publication. PHYS 421 was added to the Quantitative Finance Option core requirements. It is a required course for all options in the Physics Major, B.A. program. 

Core Requirements
PHYS 118IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F4
PHYS 119IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F4
PHYS 281LIDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics3
PHYS 331Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I4
PHYS 201Basic Mechanics 23
or PHYS 401 Mechanics I
PHYS 211Intermediate Electromagnetism 13
or PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I
PHYS 421Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 23
PHYS/BMME 441Thermal Physics 13
or CHEM 481 Physical Chemistry I
Three additional credits chosen from the following options 33
Financial Accounting 3
Business Analytics
Financial Modeling
MATH courses numbered above 200
PHYS courses numbered above 200
COMP courses numbered above 200
Additional Requirements
BUSI 408Corporate Finance 43
BUSI 580Investments H3
BUSI 588Introduction to Derivative Securities and Risk Management 5, H1.5
BUSI 589Fixed Income 5, H1.5
BUSI 600Risk Management 51.5
BUSI 688Applied Trading Strategies 5, H1.5
MATH 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F4
MATH 232IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F4
MATH 233IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours57
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Fall course.

2

Spring course.

3

Students are strongly encouraged to take BUSI 407.

4

ECON 101 and one of BUSI 101, BUSI 102, or BUSI 107 are prerequisites for BUSI 408, but these prerequisites may be waived for students in the Quantitative Finance program.

5

Half-semester course.

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.85. Students majoring in the quantitative finance option cannot pursue the minor in business.

Business Administration (BUSI) course descriptions.

Mathematics (MATH) course descriptions.

Physics (PHYS) course descriptions.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Standard Option

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Global Language through level 3 varies
Major Courses
MATH 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F 4
CHEM 101
101L
IDEAs in Action General Education logo General Descriptive Chemistry I
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I F
4
Hours 12
Spring Semester
First-Year Foundation Courses
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
MATH 232 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F 4
Hours 11
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 118 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F 4
MATH 233 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F 4
Hours 8
Spring Semester
PHYS 119 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F 4
MATH 383 First Course in Differential Equations H 3
PHYS 331 Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I 4
Hours 11
Junior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 281L IDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics 3
PHYS 211
Intermediate Electromagnetism
or Electromagnetism I
3
Hours 6
Spring Semester
PHYS 201
Basic Mechanics
or Mechanics I
3
PHYS 421 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
One course (3 hours) chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) and PHYS (numbered above 200) 3
Hours 9
Senior Year
Fall Semester
One course (3 hours) chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) and PHYS (numbered above 200) 3
Hours 3
Spring Semester
One course (3 hours) chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) and PHYS (numbered above 200) 3
Hours 3
Total Hours 63
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

Astronomy Option

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Global Language through level 3 varies
Major Courses
MATH 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F 4
ASTR 101
ASTR 100L
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Astronomy: The Solar System
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Astronomy with Skynet: Our Place in Space H
4
Hours 13
Spring Semester
First-Year Foundation Courses
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Major Courses
PHYS 118 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F 4
MATH 232 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F 4
Hours 14
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 119 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F 4
MATH 233 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F 4
Hours 8
Spring Semester
PHYS 281L IDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics 3
MATH 383 First Course in Differential Equations H 3
PHYS 331 Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I 4
Hours 10
Junior Year
Fall Semester
ASTR 202 Introduction to Astrophysics 3
PHYS 211
Intermediate Electromagnetism
or Electromagnetism I
3
Hours 6
Spring Semester
PHYS 201
Basic Mechanics
or Mechanics I
3
PHYS 421 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
One course chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) 3
Hours 9
Senior Year
Fall Semester
One course chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) 3
One additional elective course 1 3
Hours 6
Total Hours 66
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Three credits chosen from ASTR (numbered above 300) and PHYS 231, PHYS 295, PHYS 395, PHYS 585, PHYS 691H, PHYS 692H.

Computational Physics Option

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Global Language through level 3 varies
Major Courses
MATH 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F 4
COMP 110 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Programming and Data Science (if needed as prerequisite) H 3
Hours 12
Spring Semester
First-Year Foundation Courses
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Major Courses
PHYS 118 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F 4
MATH 232 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F 4
Hours 14
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 119 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F 4
MATH 233 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F 4
COMP 283
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Discrete Structures H
or Discrete Mathematics
3
Hours 11
Spring Semester
MATH 383 First Course in Differential Equations H 3
COMP 210 Data Structures and Analysis 3
PHYS 331 Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I 4
Hours 10
Junior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 211
Intermediate Electromagnetism
or Electromagnetism I
3
PHYS 281L IDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics 3
Hours 6
Spring Semester
PHYS 201
Basic Mechanics
or Mechanics I
3
PHYS 421 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
Hours 6
Senior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 332 Numerical Techniques for the Sciences II 4
Elective Course 1 3
Hours 7
Spring Semester
Elective Course 2 3
Hours 3
Total Hours 69
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Or three credits chosen from ASTR 202, ASTR (numbered above 300), PHYS (numbered above 200), COMP (numbered above 420), MATH 347 or MATH 577, and STOR 435.

2

Courses may be chosen from PHYS 447 or COMP 447 or COMP 301.

Energy Option

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Global Language through level 3 varies
Major Courses
MATH 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F 4
Hours 9
Spring Semester
First-Year Foundation Courses
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Major Courses
PHYS 118 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F 4
MATH 232 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F 4
Hours 14
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 119 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F 4
MATH 233 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F 4
PHYS 131 Energy: Physical Principles and the Quest for Alternatives to Dwindling Oil and Gas 3
PHYS 131L Energy: Physical Principles and the Quest for Alternatives to Dwindling Oil and Gas 1
Hours 12
Spring Semester
PHYS 281L IDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics 3
MATH 383 First Course in Differential Equations H 3
PHYS 331 Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I 4
Hours 10
Junior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 211
Intermediate Electromagnetism
or Electromagnetism I
3
PHYS 351 Electronics I 4
Hours 7
Spring Semester
PHYS 201
Basic Mechanics
or Mechanics I
3
PHYS 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Physical Computing 4
PHYS 421 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
Hours 10
Senior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 441 Thermal Physics 3
Hours 3
Spring Semester
PHYS 581 Renewable Electric Power Systems 3
Hours 3
Total Hours 68
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

Medical and Biological Physics Option

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Global Language through level 3 varies
Major Courses
MATH 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F 4
BIOL 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Principles of Biology H, F 3
Hours 15
Spring Semester
First-Year Foundation Courses
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Major Courses
PHYS 118 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F 4
MATH 232 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F 4
CHEM 101
101L
IDEAs in Action General Education logo General Descriptive Chemistry I
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I F
4
Hours 15
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 119 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F 4
MATH 233 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F 4
CHEM 102 IDEAs in Action General Education logo General Descriptive Chemistry II H, F 3
Hours 11
Spring Semester
PHYS 281L IDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics 3
MATH 383 First Course in Differential Equations H 3
PHYS 331 Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I 4
Hours 10
Junior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 405 Biological Physics 3
Elective course 1 3
Hours 6
Spring Semester
PHYS 201
Basic Mechanics
or Mechanics I
3
PHYS 421 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
Hours 6
Senior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 211
Intermediate Electromagnetism
or Electromagnetism I
3
Hours 3
Spring Semester
PHYS 461
Introduction to Medical Physics
or Introduction to Biomedical Imaging Science
3
Hours 3
Total Hours 69
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Courses may be chosen from BIOL (numbered above 200), CHEM 261, CHEM 262, CHEM 430, PHYS (numbered above 200).

Quantitative Finance Option

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Global Language through level 3 varies
Major Courses
MATH 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H, F 4
Hours 12
Spring Semester
First-Year Foundation Courses
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Major Courses
PHYS 118 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity F 4
MATH 232 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H, F 4
Hours 11
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 119 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta F 4
MATH 233 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H, F 4
Hours 8
Spring Semester
PHYS 281L IDEAs in Action General Education logo Experimental Techniques in Physics 3
PHYS 331 Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I 4
MATH 383 First Course in Differential Equations H 3
Hours 10
Junior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 211
Intermediate Electromagnetism
or Electromagnetism I
3
PHYS 441
Thermal Physics
or Physical Chemistry I
3
BUSI 408 Corporate Finance 3
Hours 9
Spring Semester
PHYS 201
Basic Mechanics
or Mechanics I
3
PHYS 421 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
BUSI 580 Investments H 3
Hours 9
Senior Year
Fall Semester
BUSI 588 Introduction to Derivative Securities and Risk Management H 1.5
BUSI 589 Fixed Income H 1.5
BUSI 688 Applied Trading Strategies H 1.5
Hours 4.5
Spring Semester
BUSI 600 Risk Management 1.5
Elective course 1 3
Hours 4.5
Total Hours 68
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Courses may be chosen from BUSI 407, BUSI 410, BUSI 584, MATH (numbered above 200), PHYS (numbered above 200), or COMP (numbered above 200).

Special Opportunities in Physics and Astronomy

Honors in Physics and Astronomy

The honors program offers exceptionally well-qualified students an opportunity to perform original research with a faculty member and graduate with honors or highest honors. It requires an overall grade point average of at least 3.3 and a grade point average of at least 3.4 for physics courses at the end of the junior year.

Students who wish to enter the honors program should consult with the departmental coordinator for the program no later than the preregistration period in the spring semester of their junior year.

Undergraduate Research

All majors conduct at least one semester of research under the supervision of a faculty member. Many enjoy the experience so much that they continue for several semesters. PHYS 395 Research with Faculty Mentor II is a required course for all of our BS majors. In addition to PHYS 395, students may also take PHYS 295 Research with Faculty Mentor I as an elective as many times as desired. These courses give students the opportunity to participate in leading-edge research and to gain hands-on experience with a variety of experimental tools and techniques that will enhance their resume. An approved learning contract is required prior to registering for PHYS 295 and PHYS 395, and students must be registered within the first week of classes.

Departmental Involvement

The Society of Physics Students, open to anyone interested in physics, builds connections between undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and alumni. The society invites visitors to give talks and sponsors a number of events for students each year. The Visibility in Physics is a student organization that aims to provide resources, advice, and a welcoming and encouraging social atmosphere for underrepresented minorities and allies in the field of physics.

UNC–BEST

The UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (UNC–BEST) Program is a collaboration between the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences and is designed to allow undergraduate science majors interested in teaching high school science the opportunity to earn their science degree and obtain licensure as a North Carolina high school science teacher in four years. UNC–BEST students meet all the degree requirements for their degree using PHYS 410 as one of their upper-level physics courses.

PHYS 410IDEAs in Action General Education logo Teaching and Learning Physics4
EDUC 689Foundations of Special Education3
EDUC 532IDEAs in Action General Education logo Human Development and Learning3
or EDUC 501 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Adolescent and Adulthood Development: A Cross-Cultural
EDUC 615Schools and Community Collaboration3
EDUC 593IDEAs in Action General Education logo Internship/Student Teaching12
EDUC 601Education Workshops1

For more details on admission requirements, application deadlines, and submitting an online application, visit the School of Education website.

Undergraduate Awards

The department gives awards each year to the senior (Shearin Award) and junior (Johnson Award) who demonstrate the greatest achievement. In addition, the department awards the major with the most research achievement the Robert Sheldon Award for Undergraduate Research.

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Visit Program Website

Phillips Hall, CB# 3255

(919) 962-2078

Chair

Frank Tsui

ftsui@physics.unc.edu

Academic Affairs Coordinator

Jacob Hurst

hurstj@unc.edu

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Tamara Branca

rtbranca@unc.edu

Physics Advisor (Students with Last Names Beginning with A–G)

Lu-Chang Qin

lcqin@email.unc.edu

Physics Advisor (Students with Last Names Beginning with H–L, and Astrophysics and Astronomy Majors and Minors with Last Names Beginning with A-G)

Adrienne Erickcek

erickcek@physics.unc.edu

Physics Advisor (Students with Last Names Beginning with M-N)

Jennifer Weinberg-Wolf

jweinber@physics.unc.edu

Physics Advisor (Students with Last Names Beginning with O-R, and Astrophysics and Astronomy Majors and Minors with Last Names Beginning with H-Z)

Dan Reichart

reichart@physics.unc.edu

Physics Advisor (Students with Last Names Beginning with S–Z, and Quantitative Finance Majors)

Stefan Jeglinski

jeglin@physics.unc.edu