The quest to understand the world around us is one of the noblest of mankind’s many adventures. By discovering the basic laws of nature, the inherent desire to learn is satisfied, and the quality of life for all generations to follow may be enhanced. Because Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences, it plays the central role in these efforts. Whether Albert Einstein in the 20th century or Isaac Newton in the 17th century is considered, physicists have always asked difficult questions and provided unique, unexpected, and intellectually challenging answers. As a Physics major, a student is offered the opportunity to join this small but dedicated group of professional scientists.
With about 40 Physics majors and 16 permanent faculty members and several visiting professors in residence, our student-faculty ratio is excellent and is one of the greatest strengths of the program. The capstone research experience has been a tradition in the Department of Physics and Astronomy for decades, and undergraduate Physics majors routinely participate in cutting-edge research while working one-on-one with Physics faculty.
All faculty are expected to maintain active research programs, and through such activity, professors are able to effectively convey state-of-the-art knowledge that prepares students to fully participate in today’s working environments. Faculty members are conducting research sponsored by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Advanced courses include mathematical physics, optics, atomic physics, theoretical mechanics, quantum mechanics, astrophysics, solid state physics, electromagnetic theory, nuclear physics, plasma physics and many other topics. This variety allows flexibility in designing a plan of study.
The area of emphasis in computational physics is ideal for those who have a strong aptitude and interest in computers, mathematics and science. The program provides a strong foundation in scientific computing. It includes the best of a Physics degree: strong analytical skills, a broad knowledge of the physical sciences, and fundamental scientific problem-solving skills. These are integrated with the computer skills essential to scientific computing: programming in several languages, experience with different operation systems, data storage and numerical analysis, and the graphics to display complex results. Additional areas of emphasis include but are not limited to medical physics and astrophysics.
Physicists are employed in a wide variety of industrial, government and educational settings. For example, industries focusing on medical research, semiconductors, lasers, optics, software development, environmental cleanup and communications hire physicists because of their broad knowledge of many areas of technology. Government agencies such as NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy also provide excellent career opportunities. Many jobs in physics involve fundamental research while others cross disciplines and involve the management of technology, the start-up of companies, and even investment and stock market analysis. Career paths for physicists include secondary education, medical school, patent law, forensics, health physics, environmental engineering, journalism, government policy and business management.
Sample Course Schedules
Wondering what your typical day might be like? We used students’ real course schedules to create these examples.
Freshman YearPSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology MATH 155 Calculus 1 CHEM 115 Fundamentals of Chemistry PHYS 199 Orientation to Physics WVUE 191 First Year Seminar
Senior YearMATH 451 Introduction to Real Analysis 1 PHYS 451 Introductory Quantum Mechanics PHYS 321 Optics THET 101 Introduction to the Theatre COMM 100 Principles of Human Communication
English Proficiency Requirements
All applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements.
WVU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.