Apr 17, 2024  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics, BS

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About the Program

Purdue physics is an internationally recognized department for excellence in forefront research and undergraduate and graduate education. Our undergraduate classes for physics majors average 30 or fewer students and are taught by professors actively engaged in forefront research. Undergraduate research is strongly encouraged and opportunities exist as early as the second semester to work in a research group. These groups include experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, high energy physics, nano-physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics, biological physics, geophysics, relativity, and interdisciplinary areas of material science, engineering, or computational science.

The department also helps undergraduates with external internships, particularly for the summers. Upon graduation our students are accepted for graduate programs at many of the top universities and are also sought after for positions in industry, particularly high-tech positions. Our graduates have an exceptional record of career accomplishment in a wide variety of settings, including academia and major industrial and government labs.

This program offers a specialization in physics as the core of a broad general education. The core courses provide a solid foundation in Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Waves and Oscillations, Quantum Mechanics, Thermal and Statistical Physics, Modern Physics, Relativity, Electronics, and Computational Physics. 

By using electives in the program, a student can include concentrations in condensed matter physics (PHYS 54500), nuclear physics (PHYS 55600), astrophysics (PHYS 56000), particle physics (PHYS 56400), and other areas. Students also are encouraged to participate in one or two semesters of individual research projects with a selected faculty member (PHYS 39000, 49000,or 59000).

Opportunities for employment in fields related to physics will also be enhanced by taking electives in additional science courses such as biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, meteorology, and in various branches of engineering.  With assistance from an advisor, a student can prepare an individualized program suited to career plans by selecting electives from these areas or from any other area within the University.  Normally, students take such electives as juniors and seniors.

Physics Website

Degree Requirements

120 Credits Required

Curriculum and Degree Requirements for College of Science

A College of Science degree is conferred when a student successfully completes all requirements in their degree program.  Students will complete coursework or approved experiential learning activities to meet the following three degree components:

  1. Major
  2. Science Core Curriculum
  3. Electives

Students may use any of the following options to meet College of Science degree requirements:

  • Purdue Coursework
  • Ap, IB, and CLEP credit.  The use of AP and IB coursework varies between College of Science degree plans.
  • Transfer Credit. Students should consult the Admissions Transfer Credit Resource page for all available transfer options.

College of Science degree programs vary widely in their approval and use of the proceeding options and thus students are strongly encouraged to work closely with their academic advisors and to regularly consult their MyPurduePlan to view the use of each option in their degree plan. 

Most College of Science degree programs contain elective credits students may use to pursue courses that relate to their interests or which support their major area of study. The elective area of a degree plan may also be used to complete minors, second majors and certificates such as the Entrepreneurial Certificate. With the exception of courses on the No Count List, any Purdue course may be used to meet the elective area of a student’s degree plan.

College of Science Core Requirements

All Students starting Purdue University Fall semester, 2007 or later are required to pursue the 2007 Science Core curriculum.

The College of Science Core Curriculum requires the completion of approved coursework and/or experiential learning opportunities in the following academic areas:

Earning Core Curricular Requirements through Experience

Students may meet selected core curriculum requirements through approved experiential learning opportunities. Interested students should contact their academic advisor for more information on this option and incorporating experiential learning into their four-year program of study. For more information on earning requirements through experience, please click here.

Physics Major Courses (53-55 credits)

Required Major Courses (41-42 credits)

Major Selective* (12-13 credits)

Other Departmental/Program Course Requirements (37-66 credits)

  • (satisfies Science Selective for core)
  • (satisfies Science Selective for core)
  • First Year Composition Option (satisfies Written Communication and Information Literacy for core) - Credit Hours: 3.00 - 4.00
  • Technical Writing Option (Select courses COULD satisfy Oral Communication for core) - Credit Hours: 0.00 - 3.00
  • Technical Presenting Option (Select courses COULD satisfy Oral Communication for core) - Credit Hours: 0.00 - 3.00
  • Teambuilding and Collaboration Experience - Credit Hours: 0.00 - 4.00
  • Language I Option - Credit Hours: 0.00 - 4.00
  • Language II Option - Credit Hours: 0.00 - 4.00
  • Language III/Culture/Diversity Option (Select courses COULD satisfy Human Cultures Humanities for core) - Credit Hours: 0.00 - 4.00
  • Great Issues Option (satisfies one of the Science/Engineering requirements for Physics Selective) - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • Multidisciplinary Experience (Select courses could satisfy Science, Technology & Society Selective for core) - Credit Hours: 0.00 - 3.00
  • Statistics Option - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • Computing Option - Credit Hours: 3.00 - 4.00
  • General Education I Option (Select courses could satisfy Human Cultures Humanities for core) - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • General Education II Option (Select courses could satisfy Human Cultures Humanities for core) - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • General Education III Option (Select courses could satisfy Humanities Behavioral/Social Science for core) - Credit Hours: 3.00

Calculus I Option - Select from (4-5 credits)

(satisfies Quantitative Reasoning for core)

Calculus II Option - Select from (4-5 credits)

(satisfies Quantiative Reasoning for core)

Electives (1-30 credits)

University Core Requirements

  • Human Cultures Humanities
  • Human Cultures Behavioral/Social Science
  • Information Literacy
  • Science #1
  • Science #2
  • Science, Technology, and Society
  • Written Communication
  • Oral Communication
  • Quantitative Reasoning

For a complete listing of course selectives, visit the Provost’s Website.

Prerequisite Information:

For current pre-requisites for courses, click here.


Program Requirements

Fall 1st Year

15-17 Credits

Spring 1st Year

15-17 Credits

Fall 2nd Year

15-17 Credits

Spring 2nd Year

15-16 Credits

Fall 3rd Year

15-18 Credits

Spring 3rd Year

15-16 Credits

Fall 4th Year

  • PHYS/ASTR Selective ≥ 300 level - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • Great Issues Option - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • General Education III Option (Behav./Social Science)* - Credit Hours: 3.00 *
  • Science/Engineering Selective ≥ 300 - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • Elective - Credit Hours: 3.00

15 Credits

Spring 4th Year

  • Adv. Lab Otion - Credit Hours: 3.00 - 4.00
  • Multidisciplinary Experience (STS)* - Credit Hours: 1.00 - 3.00
  • Science/Engineering Selective > 300 - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • Elective - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • Elective - Credit Hours: 3.00
  • Elective - Credit Hours: 2.00

15-18 Credits


* Satisfies a University Core Requirement

2.0 Graduation GPA required for Bachelor of Science degree.

2.0 average in PHYS/ASTR classes required to graduate.

♦ Identified as a critical course. Students should earn minimum of a B- see advisor for futher details

Foreign Language Courses

Foreign Language proficiency requirements vary by program. 

For acceptable languages and proficiency levels, see your advisor: American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, (ancient) Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Critical Course

The ♦ course is considered critical. A Critical Course is one that a student must be able to pass to persist and succeed in a particular major.


The student is ultimately responsible for knowing and completing all degree requirements.

The myPurduePlan powered by DegreeWorks is the knowledge source for specific requirements and completion.

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