Degree Programs

A curriculum that balances rigor and flexibility.

Physics and astronomy programs of study prepare students for graduate study, positions as high school teachers, and entry-level work as physicists in government or industry. Several degree options meet a range of needs and interests.

All majors in the College of Arts and Sciences complete at least 124 total credits to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Majors in Physics and Astronomy

There are four different options a student may choose to pursue. All four options share 19 credit hours of required courses in common, making it easy for students to switch from one to another if their career objectives change.

B.A. in Physics (28-hour minimum)

This degree offers a broad background in basic physics to students pursuing a second major or minor in any discipline, including arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Degree Requirements »

B.S. in Astronomy (32-hour minimum)

This degree program highlights students’ interest and preparation in astronomy. Students interested in pursuing graduate study in astronomy generally complete about 40 credit hours in the department – the number required for a stand-alone astronomy major with no minor or second major.

Degree Requirements »

B.S. in Physics (32-hour minimum)

This versatile major plan can be tailored to many interests through elective courses and optional concentrations. Faculty advisors can help students to accomplish double majors efficiently. A stand-alone physics major (with no minor or second major) requires 40 hours of physics credits.

Degree Requirements »

B.S. in Physics and Astronomy Education (32-hour minimum)

The program is designed for students who are interested in teaching physics in secondary education, allowing them to take most of the core physics courses while still having room to take education courses.

Degree Requirements »

Minors in Physics

All minors require a minimum of 16 credit hours.

Minor in Physics

An overview of important topics in physics.

Coursework »

Mechanics and Materials Minor

An applied-science minor, focusing on the action of forces on bodies and the properties of matter.

Coursework »

Electronics Minor

Courses of special interest in the design and development of electronic devices.

Coursework »


Adapting the physics curriculum to students’ goals.

Through the selection of elective courses, Valpo physics majors may concentrate their studies in particular areas of the discipline to accommodate their individual interests and career plans. The following areas of focus have been identified as useful to a significant number of students.

Fundamentals of Physics

The concentration in fundamental physics is intended for students primarily interested in pursuing a career in physics and who intend to pursue graduate study in physics.

Recommended Coursework
PHYS 372 Electromagnetic Waves and Physical Optics 3 credits
PHYS 381 Advanced Mechanics 3 credits
PHYS 421 Quantum Mechanics I 3 credits
PHYS 422 Quantum Mechanics II 3 credits
PHYS 430 Nuclear Physics 3 credits
PHYS 430L Nuclear Physics Laboratory 1 credit
PHYS 440 Condensed Matter Physics 3 credits

Recommended Courses in Other Departments 

  • MATH 330, Partial Differential Equations (3 credits)
  • MATH 334, Complex Variables (3 credits)

Applied Physics

The concentration in applied physics is intended for students interested in the application of physics to problems in a business or industrial environment. In addition to the core courses, students are advised to complete the major by electing courses most closely associated with the desired physics application.

The applied physics option is most useful to students who will seek employment immediately after graduation. The department strongly recommends that students participate in the University’s Cooperative Education program to gain practical work experience.

The following four applied physics concentrations are available:

  • Computational Physics- This option is designed for students interested in computer-related applications of physics and computational problem solving. In addition to the major, students are encouraged to complete the computer science minor »
  • Electronics- This option is designed for students interested in careers in research and development fields involving electronic devices. In addition to the major, students are encouraged to complete the electronics minor.
  • Industrial Project Management- This option prepares students for management and project leadership in technological and scientific environments in business and industry. In addition to the major, students are encouraged to complete the fundamentals of business minor »
  • Mechanics and Materials-This option is for students interested in careers in research and development fields involving mechanics and materials science. In addition to the major, students are encouraged to complete the courses in the mechanics and materials minor.

Cooperative Education

Qualified students may combine semesters in applied physics or research at a professional work site with other semesters of traditional academic studies on campus. Enrollment in this program is limited by the availability of positions offered by suitable cooperating companies.

More About Cooperative Education »