VCU Bulletins

Physics, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

The Bachelor of Science in Physics requires a minimum of 120 credits, including 54 credits in physics and physics-related courses, as detailed in the course lists.

The curriculum in physics prepares students for technical careers in physics or an allied area, for careers in engineering and for the teaching of physics in secondary schools. The curriculum also prepares students for graduate studies in physics or a related area.

Degree requirements for Physics, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Learning outcomes

Students will learn to perform scientific reasoning and complex problem-solving. To physics majors we provide a fundamental understanding of the main areas of physics so that they are prepared for jobs that use physics-based technologies. They are expected to have mastered the analytical approach to solving technical problems by identifying simple subsystems that obey known physical laws and using these laws to approximate the behavior of the whole system.

General Education requirements (32-46 credits) Credits
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I 3
UNIV 112 Focused Inquiry II 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved humanities/fine arts 3
Approved natural/physical sciences 3-4
Approved quantitative literacy 3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences 3-4
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)  
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities 3
Approved H&S general education electives 6-8
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)  
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)  
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)  
Experiential fine arts (course offered by the School of the Arts) 1-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement) 0-8
Collateral requirements (15 credits)  
MATH 200 Calculus with Analytic Geometry (fulfills University Core quantitative literacy)  
MATH 201 Calculus with Analytic Geometry 4
MATH 301 Differential Equations 3
MATH 307 Multivariate Calculus 4
Major requirements (39 credits)  
Required physics courses (30 credits)  
PHYS 207 University Physics I 5
PHYS 208 University Physics II 5
PHYS 301 Classical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 320 Modern Physics 3
PHYZ 320 Modern Physics Laboratory 1
PHYS 340 Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics 3
PHYS 376 Electromagnetism 3
PHYS 380 Quantum Physics I 3
PHYS 450 Senior Physics Laboratory 3
PHYS 490 Seminar in Conceptual Physics (capstone) 1
Elective physics and physics-related courses (9 credits) 9
A total of nine credits must be taken from the list of elective physics and physics-related courses provided below. Those students who have their primary major in physics are required to fulfill at least three of these credits using upper-level physics courses.  
Open electives (20-34 credits)  
Open electives 20-34
Total minimum requirement 120


Any upper-level physics course not listed as a required course, e.g.:
PHYS 302 Classical Mechanics II
PHYS 325 Visualization of Physics Using Mathematica
PHYS 351 Guided Inquiry for University Physics I
PHYS 352 Guided Inquiry for University Physics II
PHYS 397 Directed Study
PHYS 420 Quantum Physics II
PHYS 440 Introduction to Condensed Matter Physics
PHYS 491 Topics in Physics
PHYS 492 Independent Study
PHYS 571 Theoretical Mechanics
PHYS 573 Analytical Methods of Physics
PHYS 576 Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS 580 Quantum Mechanics

Any of the following math or statistics courses:
MATH 310 Linear Algebra
MATH 511 Applied Linear Algebra
MATH 512 Complex Analysis for Applications
MATH 515-516 Numerical Analysis I and II
MATH 517-518 Methods of Applied Mathematics
MATH 533 Partial Differential Equations I
STAT 541 Applied Statistics for Engineers and Scientists

Any of the following chemistry courses:
CHEM 409 Instrumental Analysis
CHEM 510 Atomic and Molecular Structure

Any of the following engineering courses:
CLSE 301 Transport Phenomena I
EGRB 303 Biotransport Processes
EGRB 427 Biomaterials
EGRE 224 Introduction to Microelectronics
EGRE 303 Electronic Devices
EGRE 307 Integrated Circuits
EGRM 436 Engineering Materials
ENGR 301 Fluid Mechanics
ENGR 412 Advanced Engineering Mathematics

Those students intending to pursue graduate studies in physics should take: PHYS 302, 420, 440, 571, 573, 576 and/or 580. Those interested in experimental physics should also take one or more credits in PHYS 397 or 492.

Click here to download a sample outline. [PDF]

Double major in engineering and physics

A detailed description of this program can be found in the “School of Engineering” section of this bulletin.



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Last update: 7/3/2013

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