The curriculum offered by the Department of Physics provides knowledge of the physical concepts that are basic to the laws of nature, and the ability to use these fundamental concepts to answer questions and solve real problems. You also gain an understanding of the relationship of physics to other fields such as astronomy, biology, engineering, chemistry, and medicine.

You can choose from one of three plans leading to the bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree. Plan 1 is designed primarily for students who plan to pursue graduate study in physics or go directly into professional employment. Plan 2 is intended for students who wish to combine a physics major with other areas such as applied mathematics, biophysics, chemical physics, environmental science, history and philosophy of science, or premedicine. The applied physics program is also part of Plan 2. Plan 3 is a program designed specifically for those who wish to become elementary or secondary school teachers.  It includes a teaching licensure in cooperation with the School of Education. A five year concurrent BA/MS is also available.

Physics majors are encouraged to work in a research laboratory. Such experience is especially useful if you want to pursue a career in science or engineering. Involvement in laboratory experimentation provides you with knowledge of modern electronic equipment and computerized instrumentation, such as digital circuitry and microprocessors. As a contributing member of a research group, you also get a real sense of the creative processes that are part of modern physics research.

Physics provides an excellent background for a wide variety of careers. Design and development work in industrial firms, government laboratories, and nonprofit research centers present opportunities to apply theory to specific problems. In such settings, physics graduates often work closely with those who have engineering backgrounds, complementing their more specific training with the physicist’s broader concepts. Other opportunities exist in industrial research and development including computational applications. Graduates can also go on to careers in business, law, or medicine, after appropriate graduate work. 

Career Services ( helps students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work. 

Career Services offers free services for all CU-Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation. Meet individually the staff to discuss major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation.

Teaching and research activities in phy-sics are centered in the Duane Physics laboratories, a laboratory, office, and classroom complex housing the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, and the Department of Physics.

Laboratories and institutes associated with the department include the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), the Laboratory for Nuclear Physics, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), Biofrontiers, Materials Science and Engineering, and the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI).

You may also want to consider the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). This program offers you the opportunity to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the result. For more information, call UROP at 303-492-2596,

In addition to university-affiliated physics laboratories, several other research laboratories are located in Boulder: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Physicists are also involved in the growing number of high-technology industries located in Boulder.

You should consider the opportunity to study abroad during your undergraduate years. The university offers more than 100 programs around the world, and you may spend from a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program you select. You may earn credit as if you had taken the courses here, sometimes fulfilling core or major requirements. For more information, call the Office of International Education at 303-492-7741 or stop by the office in the Center for Community, or on the web:

Please speak with your advisor for specific recommendations; the following is intended to be a general outline only and there may be flexibility to this plan.

Physics 4-Year Plan
Average 30 credits per year


First Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 1110
(4) or PHYS 1115 (4): Calculus-based General Physics 1
MATH 1300 (5): Calculus 1 or APPM 1350 (4): Calculus 1 for Engineers
CORE (3): Content Area of Study (see Degree Audit for options)   
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (ex: Lower-Division Written Communication)  

First Year – Spring Semester
PHYS 1120
(4) or PHYS 1125 (4): Calculus-based General Physics 2
PHYS 1140 (1): Experimental Physics 1       
MATH 2300 (5): Calculus 2 or APPM 1360 (4) Calculus 2 for Engineers
CORE (3): Content Area of Study     
CORE (3): Content Area of Study     

Second Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 2170
(3): Foundations of Modern Physics     
PHYS 2150 (1): Experimental Modern Physics        
MATH 2400 (4): Calculus 3 or APPM 2350 (4): Calculus 3 for Engineers
CHEM 1113 (4): General Chemistry 1          
CHEM 1114 (1): Gen Chemistry 1 Lab         
CORE or MATH 3130 (3): Intro to Linear Algebra    

Second Year – Spring Semester
PHYS 2210
(3): Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods 1
MATH 3430 (3) or APPM 2360 (4):  Differential Equations  
CHEM 1133 (3): General Chemistry II          
CHEM 1134 (1): General Chemistry II Lab   
CORE (3): Content Area of Study     

Third Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 3210
(3): Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods II
PHYS 3310 (3): Principles of Electricity and Magnetism 1
PHYS 3330 (2): Electronics for Physical Sciences
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
CORE (3): Content Area of Study

Third Year – Spring Semester
PHYS 3220 (3): Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics I
PHYS 3320 (3): Principles of Electricity and Magnetism II
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
Elective/MAPS (3)
Elective/MAPS (3)

Fourth Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 4230
(3): Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics
PHYS 4410 (3): Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics II
PHYS (3): Upper-Division Elective (9 credit-hours required, see Degree Audit for choices)
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (example: Upper-Division Written Communication)
Elective/MAPS (3)

Fourth Year – Spring Semester
(3): Upper-Division Elective (9 credit-hours required, see Degree Audit for choices)
PHYS (3): Upper-Division Elective (9 credit-hours required, see Degree Audit for choices)
Ancillary/Prep Courses (3)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
Elective/MAPS (3):