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College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Physics

105 Smith Hall
Tel: 330-672-2246
Fax: 330-672-2959


The Bachelor of Arts in Physics prepares students for such varied fields as secondary education, patent law, science journalism or interdisciplinary science careers. The core requirements permit a large number of elective courses, which allow students to complete a minor or second major in preparation for an interdisciplinary career. This program is well suited for those with a strong interest not only in science but also in a non-science field. Students completing the program may choose to continue their physics studies on a graduate level.

The Bachelor of Science in Physics consists of seven concentrations: the Research and Applied Physics concentrations plus five interdisciplinary concentrations in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics and Pre-Medicine/Pre-Osteopathy.

The Research concentration prepares majors for further study at the graduate level. This program trains students in logical thinking and problem solving using both analytical and computational methods. It also furnishes students with a comprehensive understanding of the basic laws and principles that govern the physical world. Academic assessment and GRE results keep the program up-to-date via curricular revisions. This program is a popular stepping stone to graduate degrees not only in physics, but also in engineering, astronomy/astrophysics and materials science.

The Applied Physics concentration prepares students for immediate entry into careers in industry. Course requirements include electronics, introduction to computer programming, and data analysis and computational physics techniques. While rooted in the basic principles of physics, this program is optimized for students concerned with the application of physics in practical devices and systems.

The Biological Sciences concentration is for students with a strong interest in both physics and biology, who may wish to prepare for graduate study in biophysics or for work in a biotechnology company. This program satisfies requirements for the Biological Sciences minor.

The Chemistry concentration is designed for students with a strong interest in both physics and chemistry, who may wish to prepare for graduate study in chemical physics or for work in a high-technology materials-related research and development laboratory. This program satisfies requirements for the Chemistry minor.

The Computer Science concentration provides a foundation in physics while emphasizing the use of computer software in scientific applications. Graduates are prepared for computer-related careers that require an understanding of the underlying science as well as knowledge of relevant computer applications. This program satisfies requirements for the Computer Science minor.

The Applied Mathematics concentration provides student with a strong understanding of applied physical theory, its applications and the underlying mathematics. This training, valuable for start-up positions with a number of industries, may also serve as preparation for graduate work in either physics or mathematics. This program satisfies requirements for the Applied Mathematics minor.

The Pre-Medicine/Pre-Osteopathy concentration is designed to prepare physics majors for further study leading to careers in medicine.

Career Opportunities

A Ph.D. degree in physics or closely related fields is typically required for basic research positions, independent research in industry, faculty positions, and advancement to managerial positions. Graduate study in physics prepares students for a career in research through rigorous training in theory, methodology, and mathematics. Most physicists specialize in a subfield during graduate school and continue working in that area afterwards.

Additional experience and training in a postdoctoral research appointment, although not required, is important for physicists and astronomers aspiring to permanent positions in basic research in universities and government laboratories. Many physics and astronomy Ph.D. holders ultimately teach at the college or university level.

Master's degree holders usually do not qualify for basic research positions, but may qualify for many kinds of jobs requiring a physics background, including positions in manufacturing and applied research and development. Increasingly, many master's degree programs are specifically preparing students for physics-related research and development that does not require a Ph.D. degree. These programs teach students specific research skills that can be used in private-industry jobs. In addition, a master's degree coupled with State certification usually qualifies one for teaching jobs in high schools or at 2-year colleges.

Those with bachelor's degrees in physics are rarely qualified to fill positions in research or in teaching at the college level. They are, however, usually qualified to work as technicians or research assistants in engineering-related areas, in software development and other scientific fields, or in setting up computer networks and sophisticated laboratory equipment. Increasingly, some may qualify for applied research jobs in private industry or take on nontraditional physics roles, often in computer science, such as systems analysts or database administrators. Some become science teachers in secondary schools.

Holders of a bachelor's or master's degree in astronomy often enter an unrelated field where their strong analytical background provides good preparation. However, they are also qualified to work in planetariums running science shows, to assist astronomers doing research, and to operate space-based and ground-based telescopes and other astronomical instrumentation.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Admission Requirements

General Admissions for Freshman Students: Admission Requirements at the Kent Campus: The freshman admission policy at the Kent Campus is selective. Admission decisions are based upon the following: cumulative grade point average, ACT and/or SAT scores, strength of high school college preparatory curriculum and grade trends.

The university affirmatively strives to provide educational opportunities and access to students with varied backgrounds, those with special talents and adult students who graduated from high school three or more years ago. For more information on admissions, visit the admissions website for new freshmen.

General Admissions for Transfer Students: Generally, a transfer applicant who has taken 12 or more semester hours with a college cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale may be admitted. An applicant who has taken fewer than 12 semester hours will be evaluated on both collegiate and high school records. For more information on admissions, visit the admissions website for transfer students..

Graduation Requirements

Minimum 120 total credit hours  and  42 upper-division hours for graduation. Minimum 2.000 GPA overall and 2.000 GPA in major required for graduation.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

1. Demonstrate technical and cognitive skills important in a good physicist. Students will learn to think critically and analytically. They will learn how to define a problem and how to solve problems. Students will learn advanced mathematics (e.g., calculus and differential equations) and computer skills. They will develop the ability to use, design, and even build lab equipment.

2. Demonstrate the traits important in a good scientist, namely, being hard working, being creative, being meticulous, being persistent, being tenacious, and being self confident.

3. Communicate results of their work to peers, to their instructors or supervisors, to various target groups within the physics community, and to people outside the discipline.

Study Abroad/Away Opportunities

There are many Study Abroad/Away Opportunities, for more information contact the Office of Global Education.

Student Organizations

Society of Physics Students (SPS)

Advanced Degree Programs

 Physics (M.A., M.S. and Ph.D.), Secondary Education: Physics (M.A.T.)