Undergraduate Catalog 2023-2024

Physics, Bachelor of Science (754)

The Physics Major (reference number 754) can, by proper choice of electives, prepare students for a wide variety of careers in STEM, graduate work in physics, astronomy, and related fields or professional schools such as medical school.


  • Physics Education (PHEU)

Program Requirements (35 hours)

A baccalaureate degree requires a minimum of 120 unduplicated semester hours. More information can be found at www.wku.edu/registrar/degree_certification.php.

Students who began WKU in the Fall 2014 and thereafter should review the Colonnade requirements located at: https://www.wku.edu/colonnade/colonnaderequirements.php.

The major in physics requires a minimum of 35 semester hours and leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. A minor or second major is required. The foundation for the undergraduate major is provided by a core sequence of six lecture and five laboratory courses, requiring a total of 29 semester hours.

Core Sequence
PHYS 180
PHYS 181
Introductory Modern Physics
and Introductory Modern Physics Laboratory
PHYS 255
PHYS 256
University Physics I
and University Physics I Lab
PHYS 265
PHYS 266
University Physics II
and University Physics II Laboratory
PHYS 301Electrical Measurements Laboratory1
PHYS 302Atomic Physics Laboratory1
PHYS 316Computational Physics3
or PHYS 318 Data Acquisition Using Labview
PHYS 321Introductory Modern Physics II3
PHYS 350Classical Mechanics I3
PHYS 398Junior Seminar0.5
PHYS 440Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHYS 498Senior Seminar0.5
Select a minimum of 6 semester hours of upper division departmental courses 16
Total Hours35

The selection is determined by the student’s career aspirations, subject to approval by the student’s departmental advisor. The upper division electives must be chosen from the courses listed for departmental majors and minors, excluding PHYS 389, PHYS 399, and PHYS 489.

No more than 3 hours of PHYS 475 may be counted toward the 35 hour minimum requirement for the major.

Support Requirements
MATH 136Calculus I4
MATH 137Calculus II4
MATH 237Multivariable Calculus4
MATH 307Introduction to Linear Algebra (or MATH 370 for applied physics track)3
MATH 331Differential Equations3
CHEM 120
CHEM 121
College Chemistry I
and College Chemistry I Laboratory

(Support requirements differ for teacher certification; see below.) The department has prepared several career-oriented tracks, which detail relevant departmental electives and additional or departmentally-approved substitute support courses. Advising tracks currently defined within the Bachelor of Science in physics program include the following:

  1. The general physics track is designed for those students who wish to pursue careers as physicists or are preparing for graduate study in physics.
  2. The applied physics track combines extensive technical knowledge, related problem-solving skills, and computer techniques and internship opportunities to prepare students for positions in industrial and governmental laboratories.
  3. The physics and astronomy track prepares students for careers in astronomy/space science and for graduate study in these areas.
  4. The teacher certification track prepares students for careers teaching physics at the secondary school level. The student must also complete professional education requirements as specified by the School of Teacher Education. Students in this option must have a second major in science and math education (SMED).
  5. Other - There are some specified programs such as a suggested pre-medicine curriculum for students wishing to major in physics. Course recommendations for these tracks are available from the departmental office. In all cases, the student must work closely with the departmental advisor from the beginning to plan a program of study that meets departmental and University requirements and that maximizes preparation to meet career goals.

Transfer of Credit

Transfer courses are welcomed and approved through the Physics faculty and College Dean.

Finish in Four Plans

Physics, No Concentration

First Year
PHYS 1803PHYS 2554
PHYS 1811PHYS 2561
MATH 1364MATH 1374
ENG 1003CHEM 1203
COMM 1453CHEM 1212
 HIST 101 or HIST 1023
 PHYS 2991
 14 18
Second Year
PHYS 2654PHYS 3213
PHYS 2661MATH 3313
MATH 2374PHYS 3011
MATH 307 or MATH 3703ENG 3003
ENG 2003Colonnade 3
 Colonnade 3
 15 16
Third Year
PHYS 3503PHYS 480 (or PHYS 441/404)3
PHYS 470
PHYS 407 (or PHYS 460/406 or PHYS 425)
4PHYS 3163
PHYS 3021PHYS 3980.5
MATH 4353PHYS 450 or PHYS 4453
PHYS 3303MATH 3823
 17 15.5
Fourth Year
PHYS 470
PHYS 407 (or PHYS 460/406 or PHYS 425)
4PHYS 445 or PHYS 4503
PHYS 4403MATH 4503
PHYS 4980.5PHYS 480 (or PHYS 441/404)3
PHYS 3183Colonnade 3
Colonnade 3 
 16.5 12
Total Hours 124

Physics, Physics Education 

First Year
PHYS 1803PHYS 2554
PHYS 1811PHYS 2561
MATH 1364MATH 1374
ENG 1003PHIL 215 or EE 1803
Colonnade - Arts & Humanities3HIST 101 or HIST 1023
SMED 1013SMED 1023
COMM 1453 
 20 18
Second Year
PHYS 2654PHYS 3213
PHYS 2661PHYS 3011
MATH 2374MATH 3073
ENG 2003CHEM 1203
SMED 3103CHEM 1212
 SMED 3203
 15 15
Third Year
PHYS 3021PHYS 4403
PHYS 3503PHYS 3980.5
PHYS 316 or PHYS 3183Colonnade - Social & Cultural3
ENG 3003Colonnade - Local to Global3
SMED 3403SMED 3603
MATH 3313SPED 3303
 16 15.5
Fourth Year
PHYS upper-division Elective3SMED 4893
PHYS upper-division Elective3SEC 49010
PHYS 4980.5 
Colonnade - Systems3 
SMED 4703 
LTCY 4213 
 15.5 13
Total Hours 128