Bachelor of Arts Degree
Arts and Sciences
Time to Completion
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Contact InformationDepartment Website
PO Box 210011
What Is Physics ?
Physics is the study of the physical laws of nature. Physicists apply these laws to draw conclusions about a wide range of phenomena, from the structures of subatomic particles to planetary motion. Physics majors develop strong analytical skills, learning to produce and examine critically exact quantitative evidence for theories about the workings of the universe.
The successful physics student must possess strong skills in mathematics, analytical thinking and writing, and problem solving. The student should be imaginative and welcome challenges. For greatest success, the student should function well both individually and as part of a group.
The study of physics provides excellent training in quantitative and analytic approaches to solving problems, as well as experience with computers and laboratory equipment. Physics B.A. graduates are highly sought for professional programs in law, economics, medicine, neuroscience, business and teachings.
The emphasis on modeling and problem-solving skills as an intrinsic part of a physics education means that graduates of this major can and do pursue many different careers. In addition to continuing on to professional schools like law, medicine, teaching and business, opportunities for our recent graduates include:
- Science teacher
- Banking and finance
- Military officer
- Accelerator operator
- Research technician
- Computer engineer
- Software development
- Medical physics
Additional career options are listed on the Career Development Center's website.
The physics B.A. program in the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) is designed with the greater flexibility than the B.S. program to allow for a broader variety of career goals, while providing students with a sound foundation in the principles of physics. The program includes lecture courses in all major fields of physics (including current research areas). Options accommodate pre-medical requirements, double majors, and custom-designed interdisciplinary studies programs. In the final year, each student completes an independent project under faculty supervision as part of the capstone experience. This project can take many forms and includes opportunities to conduct research in our labs. The department recently began offering an optional six-month co-op experience in spring and summer of the junior year.
The following courses are required of all physics majors (B.A.):
- General Physics for Physics Majors I, II, and III Lecture and Lab (PHYS 204/214-205/215-206/216) or (201H/211H-202H/212H-203H/213H)
- Intermediate Physics I, II, and III (PHYS 351-352-353)
- 300-level Physics electives (21 credits)
- Calculus I, II, III, and IV (MATH 251, 252/256, 253/257, 264)
- Differential Equations (MATH 273)
Physics majors are encouraged to take additional elective math and physics courses.
*General Physics (calculus-based) for nonmajors may be substituted with special permission from the director of undergraduate programs in physics.
A&S offers flexible degree requirements allowing for and highly encouraging multiple areas of study. Free electives allow for enough credits for students to pursue a minor, certificate program or even complete a second major. Some of the most common pairings are listed below.
- Biological sciences
- Mathematical sciences
The undergraduate minor in physics is designed to provide students with a sound introduction to both classical and modern physics. It is offered to students in any college at the University of Cincinnati; however, the required physics courses must be taken in UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
Required Credits: at least 30 in physics courses at the 200 level or higher; nine of these must be at the 300 level or higher. For specifics, please visit the college Web site.
This curriculum information is intended as a general information guide for students considering enrollment in this major. These online tools are designed to assist you, but are not a substitute for planning with an academic or faculty advisor.
If you are currently enrolled at UC, you can audit your degree online. If you are considering transferring to this major from another school use the course applicability system (CAS) to see how credits you have earned will apply to this major at UC. For course descriptions by college, click here.
The physics BA will automatically satisfy both the Natural Sciences (NS) and Quantitative Reasoning (QR) requirements of the A&S College core requirements, leaving 27 credits of A&S distribution requirements along with English Composition and Foreign Language.
|First Year||Course Number||Credits|
|*English Composition||ENGL 101, 102||6|
|College Algebra II, Trigonometry, Calculus I||MATH 174, 181, 251||11|
|First Year Chemistry Lecture and Lab (recommended)||CHEM 101/111, 102/112, 103/113||15|
|*Social Sciences (SS)||see offerings||9|
|*Humanities (HU)||see offerings||3|
|Total for first year||44|
|Second Year||Course Number||Credits|
|General Physics for Physics Majors Lecture and Lab||PHYS 204/214-205/215-206/216||15|
|Calculus II and III with Labs||MATH 252/256-253/257||10|
|Calculus IV||MATH 264||5|
|*Foreign Language||see checklist||15|
|Total for second year||45|
|Third Year||Course Number||Credits|
|*Intermediate Composition||ENGL 289||3|
|Intermediate Physics I, II, and III (includes lab)||PHYS 351-352-353||15|
|Differential Equations||MATH 273||5|
|300-level Physics electives (see major advisor)||PHYS 300+||6|
|*Historical Perspectives (HP)||see offerings||9|
|Free electives (suggested to count in a minor or other program)||see options||7|
|Total for third year||45|
|Fourth Year||Course Number||Credits|
|Capstone Project||PHYS 499||3|
|300-level Physics electives (see major advisor)||PHYS 300+||15|
|*Literature (LT)||see offerings||3|
|*Humanities, Literature, or Fine Arts (HU, LT, or FA)||see offerings||3|
|*Social & Ethical Issues (if not already taken, SE)||see offerings||3|
|Free electives (suggested to count in a minor or other program)||see options||19|
|Total for fourth year||46|
|Total overall||Minimum 180|
*Needed to fulfill A&S college requirements.
For further information, please consult the Department of Physics, 400 Geology/Physics Building, 556-0501, or visit the website at homepages.uc.edu/physics.
Special OpportunitiesStudents in McMicken College of Arts and Sciences enjoy many benefits afforded through study at a research-intensive institution ranked among the nation's top 25 public research universities. UC's urban, tri-state location offers exciting opportunities for global education, research and service learning, while its student-centered focus includes an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized Center for Exploratory Studies and a highly successful First Year Experience program that teaches critical skills for first-year students and provides connections with important campus resources.
The physics faculty members engage in forefront research in the major areas in physics. Opportunities are available for students to be involved in such research, often leading to publications. Our relatively small class size allows for significant personal attention to each student. Our curriculum is designed to be flexible to allow for different career goals. Our majors have access to excellent computer facilities, and computation is incorporated intrinsically into our courses. The department recently began offering an optional six-month co-op experience in spring and summer of the junior year. UC is one of only a few physics departments in the country to offer such an opportunity.
Admission criteria for this program vary based on the relative strength of test scores, class rank and GPA. Please see the Freshman Class Profile for this major in the Quick Facts sidebar on this page for the range of academic credentials typically accepted into this program. Test scores in the lower range may be acceptable with higher-class rank and/or GPA.
Freshmen applying to this program should also have completed the following state of Ohio articulation requirements with no more than two units missing:
- English (4 units)*
- College-preparatory mathematics (3 units)*
- Science (2 units)
- Social science (2 units)
- Foreign language (2 units)*
- Additional college-prep subjects (3 units)
*A&S does not allow units missing from these areas.
Applicants to A&S whose most recent enrollment was not in any of the UC colleges must apply through the Office of Admissions. Applicants in this category must submit transcripts for all secondary school and college-level work. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 for all college-level work is required for admission consideration. Admission to A&S is generally available for any off-campus applicants whose cumulative GPA is 2.0 or higher.
University transfer scholarships are available to those who meet specific requirements and ANY admitted A&S transfer student might qualify for an A&S transfer scholarship. Deadlines and eligibility criteria are online via the previous links.
Changing Major Requirements
Applicants to A&S whose most recent enrollment was as a degree student in one of UC’s other colleges can apply directly to the A&S college office. Admission to A&S is generally available for any on-campus students who have:
- at least a 2.0 GPA in all college-level courses (both at UC and at other institutions),
- successfully completed two quarters of English composition or its equivalent, and
- gained credit for a college-level mathematics course.
A&S students must meet the college residency requirement of 45.0 hours which begins immediately upon matriculation in the college and consists of courses taught within McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
To graduate from UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, students must:
- Earn at least 180 credits. This can include transfer credit, AP credit and free electives, but does not include preparatory coursework. Students who have met all other degree requirements must continue earning credit until the total number of their earned hours comes to at least 180.
- Attain a 2.0 grade point average for all courses taken at the University of Cincinnati.
- Be in good academic standing, that is, not on either academic probation or disciplinary probation or suspension.
- Complete the residency requirement by earning at least 45 credits after matriculating into the college. These minimum 45 credits must be taught within A&S, and also must be completed after gaining admission to the college.
- Complete all of the requirements of at least one major (see major requirements above).
- Complete the College Core Requirements.
- Submit an application for graduation to the registrar's office by their posted deadline.
UC operates on a quarter system, with 10-week grading periods beginning in late September, early January, late March and mid-June. While midyear admission is possible, fall quarter is generally the best time to enter the college, since many course sequences begin in that quarter. Applicants to McMicken College of Arts and Sciences who are enrolled or who were previously enrolled as degree-seeking students in A&S or in other UC colleges should apply for admission directly to A&S (in French West, 2nd Floor). All other applicants who wish to earn an undergraduate degree from A&S should apply through the Office of Admissions (3rd Floor, University Pavilion).