Physics Major

Physics majors have a variety of career paths open to them, from employment with their Bachelor's degree to further study in graduate school. To give students the maximum flexibility in their career preparation we offer four Concentrations within the Physics major: Physics, Biophysics, Earth & Space Science and Physics Education.

To graduate with a major in Physics, a student must attain an overall grade point average of 2.0 in the courses (cumulative) required for the major.

All students work closely with their individual academic advisor to plan the course of study that best suits their own career goals.

Further information

grey bar

Physics Concentration

The traditional Physics Major-Physics Concentration takes nearly the full slate of physics courses that we offer. This also includes independent study courses in your junior and senior year to delve into areas beyond our usual course offerings. In recent years, these independent study courses have considered various topics including Einstein's General Theory of Relativity (gravitational waves), introductory quantum field theory, geophysics, processing of environmental satellite data, various studies in fluid dynamics using our wind tunnel, and radio astronomy. For those who want to pursue careers in astronomy, elective courses would include our advanced astronomy courses (ASTR 310, 421, 422). Physics majors are encouraged to consider summer internships at locations such as Green Bank NRAO, NASA and other locations through the National Science Foundation's Summer REU Program.

Biophysics Concentration

The Biophysics Concentration is the first of its kind in the state of Virginia. This rigorous concentration is for those who wish to apply physics to health-related fields. In addition to the typical physics and math classes, students also take 19 hours in Chemistry and 16 hours in Biology. Students are encouraged to work with their advisors to set up Independent Study classes that apply physics to various biophysical problems.

Earth and Space Science Concentration

The Earth and Space Science Concentration allows students to take a number of applied physics classes such as our geophysics class, advanced astronomy classes and engineering geology (offered by the Geology Department). This concentration prepares you for a career immediately upon graduation in fields such as applied physics, civil engineering and others. This also most readily allows you to participate in our 3:2 Engineering program with Virginia Tech and to take upper level applied classes that will better prepare you for their chosen engineering concentration. This might also be the concentration of choice if you would like a career in astronomy, given the upper level observational (ASTR 310) and theoretical (ASTR 421, 422) astronomy classes that we offer.

Physics Education Concentration

The Physics Education Concentration requires the traditional year of introductory physics, along with a core group of intermediate physics courses. This allows for flexibility for students who want to take their physics degree into a teaching career. Students who start this concentration their freshman year can complete the physics requirements as well as receive their teaching certification within their 4 years at Radford.

Physics Concentration Checklist

Required Physics Courses: 28 hours

  • PHYS 221:222. Physics. (4,4) 
  • PHYS 305. Modern Physics. (4)
  • PHYS 306. Intermediate Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 308. Electricity and Magnetism. (3)
  • PHYS 309. Electronics Lab. (2)
  • PHYS 320. Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 421. Electromagnetic Theory I. (3)
  • PHYS 430. Quantum Mechanics. (3)

Required Math Courses: 12 hours

  • MATH 151. Calculus I (3)
  • MATH 152. Calculus II. (3)
  • MATH 251. Calculus III. (3)
  • MATH 252. Calculus IV. (3)

Other Courses: 6 hours

A minimum of 6 semester hours must be selected from the the following:

  • PHYS 310. Optics. (4)
  • PHYS 330. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 370. Computational Methods in Physics. (3)
  • PHYS 422. Electromagnetic Theory II. (3)
  • PHYS 450. Selected Topics in Physics. (3-4)

BS or BA Requirements: 8 or 12 hours

  • B.S. Requirement (8 hours): CHEM 101:102. General Chemistry. (4:4)
  • B.A. Requirement (12 hours): The Bachelor of Arts degree requires completion of the B.A. language requirement described in the RU catalog. 

Biophysics Concentration Checklist

Required Physics Courses: 29 hours

  • PHYS 221:222. Physics. (4,4) 
  • PHYS 305. Modern Physics. (4)
  • PHYS 306. Intermediate Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 308. Electricity and Magnetism. (3)
  • PHYS 309. Electronics Lab. (2)
  • PHYS 330. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 370. Numerical Methods in Physics. (3)
  • PHYS 430. Quantum Mechanics. (3)

Required Math Courses: 12 hours

  • MATH 151. Calculus I (3)
  • MATH 152. Calculus II. (3)
  • MATH 251. Calculus III. (3)
  • MATH 252. Calculus IV. (3)

Required Chemistry Courses: 19 hours

  • CHEM 101. General Chemistry I (4)
  • CHEM 102. General Chemistry II. (4)
  • CHEM 301. Organic Chemistry I. (4)
  • CHEM 302. Organic Chemistry II. (4)
  • CHEM 471. Biochemistry I. (3)

Required Biology Courses: 16 hours

  • BIOL 131. Ecology and Adaptation (4)
  • BIOL 132. Biology of Cells and Microorgamisms. (4)
  • BIOL 231. Genetics, Evolution, and Development. (4)
  • BIOL 232. Organismal Biology. (4)

BS or BA requirements: 8 or 12 hours

  • B.S. Requirement (8 hours): CHEM 101:102. General Chemistry. (4:4
  • B.A. Requirement (12 hours): The Bachelor of Arts degree requires completion of the B.A. language requirement described in the RU catalog. 

Earth and Space Concentration Checklist

Required Physics Courses: 19 hours

  • PHYS 111:112. General Physics (4:4)
    or PHYS 221:222. Physics (4:4)
  • PHYS 305. Modern Physics. (4)
  • PHYS 306. Intermediate Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 308. Electricity and Magmetism. (3)
  • PHYS 309. Electronics Lab. (1)

Required Math Courses: 12 hours

  • MATH 151. Calculus I. (3)
  • MATH 152. Calculus II. (3)

Other Courses: 16 hours

A minimum of 16 semester hours must be selected from the following:

  • ASTR 111. General Astronomy I. (4)
  • ASTR 112. General Astronomy II. (4)
  • ASTR 310. Observational Astronomy. (3)
  • ASTR 421. Solar System Astronomy. (3)
  • ASTR 422. Galactic Astronomy & Cosmology. (3)
  • PHYS 370. Computational Methods in Physics. (3)
  • PHYS/GEOL 406. Geophysics. (4)
  • GEOL 455. Engineering Geology. (4)
  • Any PHYS course at the 300 level or above except PHYS 470.

BS or BA requirements: 8 or 12 hours

  • B.S. Requirement (8 hours): CHEM 101:102. General Chemistry. (4:4)
  • B.A. Requirement (12 hours): The Bachelor of Arts degree requires completion of the B.A. language requirement described in the RU catalog.

Physics Teaching Concentration Checklist

Required Physics Courses: 22 hours

  • PHYS 221:222. Physics. (4,4) 
  • PHYS 305. Modern Physics. (4)
  • PHYS 306. Intermediate Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 308. Electricity and Magmetism. (3)
  • PHYS 309. Electronics Lab. (1)
  • PHYS 430. quantum Mechanics. (3)

Required Math Courses: 9 hours

  • MATH 151. Calculus I (3)
  • MATH 152. Calculus II. (3)
  • MATH 251. Calculus III. (3)

Other courses: 9 hours

A minimum of 9 semester hours must bel selected from the following:

  • PHYS 310. Optics. (4)
  • PHYS 320. Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 330. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. (3)
  • PHYS 370. Computational Methods in Physics. (3)
  • PHYS 421. Electromagnetic theory I. (3)
  • PHYS 422. Electromagnetic Theory II. (3)
  • PHYS 450. Selected Topics in Physics. (3-4)
  • ASTR 421. Solar System Astronomy. (3)
  • ASTR 422. Galactic Astronomy and Cosmology. (3)

BS or BA requirements: 8 or 12 hours

  • B. S. Requirement (8 hours): CHEM 101:102. .General Chemistry I:II (4,4)
  • B. A. Requirement (12 hours): The Bachelor of Arts degree requires completion of the B.A. language requirement described in the RU catalog.