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Physics

Physics is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us and the world beyond us. It is the basis of many other sciences, including chemistry, engineering, oceanography, seismology and astronomy (and can be applied to biology or medical science).

By the numbers65

WVU Physics was 65th on the National Science Foundation's 2015 Report of Research Expenditures in the U.S.

Overview

What is Physics at WVU like?

Description

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, you're offered the opportunity to join this small but dedicated group of professional scientists.

With about 100 Physics majors and 27 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.

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 you to fully participate in today’s working environments.

Advanced courses include modern physics, advanced laboratory, optics, theoretical mechanics, quantum mechanics, astrophysics, solid state physics, electromagnetic theory, plasma physics and many other topics. This variety allows flexibility in designing a plan of study.

All BS students complete an area of emphasis.

At a Glance

Next Steps

Interested in this major? Here are some suggested next steps:

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Areas of Emphasis

Tailor this major to your interests by taking courses in one of these areas:

  • Applied Physics
    Capstone research/senior design project must emphasize an applied physics topic. Students interested in completing this area of emphasis are encouraged to consider these courses as general electives: EE 311 Junior Instrumentation Lab; CPE 310 and CPE 311 Microprocessor Systems and Microprocessor Laboratory.
  • Astro/Space Physics
    Capstone research must emphasize a space physics topic. Students completing this area of emphasis are encouraged to consider the following courses as elective choices: PHYS 340 Experimental Space Physics; EE 223 Electrical Circuits and EE 224 Electrical Circuits Laboratory.
  • Biophysics
    Capstone research must emphasize a biophysics topic. Students interested in this area of emphasis are encouraged to consider these courses as electives: BIOL 117 Introductory Physiology; BIOL 219 The Living Cell; PHYS 225 Medical Imaging Physics. Students considering medical school are encouraged to take CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry and CHEM 235 Organic Chemistry Laboratory in place of CHEM 231, and follow with CHEM 234 Organic Chemistry and CHEM 236 Organic Chemistry Laboratory as elective courses.
  • Computational Physics
    Capstone research must emphasize a computational physics topic. Students interested in this area of emphasis are encouraged to consider these courses as electives: CS 221 Analysis of Algorithms; STAT 215 Introduction to Probability and Statistics.
  • Materials Science
    Capstone research must emphasize a materials science topic. Students interested in this area of emphasis are encouraged to consider these courses as electives: PHYS 321 Optics; CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry and CHEM 235 Organic Chemistry Laboratory. CHEM 233 and 235 are highly recommended for students interested in studying polymers.
  • Medical Physics
    Capstone research must emphasize a medical physics topic. Students interested in this area of emphasis are encouraged to consider these courses as electives: BIOL 219 The Living Cell; BIOL 310 Advanced Cellular/Molecular Biology. Students considering medical school are encouraged to take CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry and CHEM 235 Organic Chemistry Laboratory in place of CHEM 231, and follow with CHEM 234 Organic Chemistry and CHEM 236 Organic Chemistry Laboratory as elective courses
  • Physics Teaching
    Capstone research must emphasize a physics or physics education topic. Students interested in this area of emphasis are encouraged to consider these courses as electives to complete the requirements to be recommended to the state for teaching licensure: ARSC 120 Inquiry Approaches to Teaching (1 credit, satisfies service learning requirements); ARSC 220 Inquiry – Based Lesson Design (1 credit, satisfies service learning requirements); UTCH 221 Knowing and Learning in Science and Mathematics (3 credits, satisfied GEF 4); UTCH 222 Classroom Interactions (3 credits); UTCH 420 Project-Based Instruction in Science and Mathematics Classrooms (3 credits); MATH 318 Perspectives on Mathematics and Science (3 credits, satisfied GEF 5); and UTCH 430 Apprentice Teaching (10 credits).
  • Professional Preparation
    This is the typical plan of study for students who want to do graduate study in physics.

Fast Facts

What makes Physics at WVU unique?


Research and Academic Opportunities

Physics students complete capstone projects in all areas of Physics and Astronomy. From discovering new pulsers to developing new diagnostic tools to measure the temperature of 10,000 degree plasmas, Physics students work directly on research projects with faculty for the majority of capstone projects.

Student Organizations

Connect with other students who share your academic interests as a member of:

View all of the student organizations you can join.

Professional Organizations

Network with professionals in your field as a student member of:

WVUteach

You can earn a secondary teaching certificate through WVUteach while completing a four-year degree in WVU's Physics major.

Careers

What can you do with this degree?

Graduates have gone on to graduate study in physics or astronomy, professional school (medicine, dentistry, law), graduate study in engineering or mathematics, high school physics teaching and industrial positions (finance, programming, engineering).

Possible Careers

Wondering what you can do with a degree from WVU's Physics major? Check out these ideas from WVU Career Services and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). A median salary is the midpoint of what people typically earn—half of those surveyed earned above the median salary, and half earned below.

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Courses

What are the courses like in Physics at WVU?

Major Map

Check out the course requirements and suggested plan of study for WVU's Physics major.

View the Major Map
 

For a program overview, learning goals and course descriptions, visit the course catalog.

Popular Courses

ASTR 110:
Explosions in Space

Topics covered include: special and general relativity, supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, wormholes, time travel and gamma-ray bursts.

ASTR 367:
Astrophysics 1

Physical description of the astronomical universe. Physical principles are used to explain the properties and evolution of stars. Physical properties and effects of the Milky Way's interstellar medium are examined.

ASTR 469:
Observational Astronomy

Laboratory course consisting of three detailed projects which aim to acquaint students with current techniques for astronomy data analysis and interpretation across the electromagnetic spectrum.

ASTR 470:
General Relativity

Innovative 'physics-first' introduction to Einstein's relativistic theory of gravity. Topics covered include special relativity, curved space time, spherical stars, gravitational collapse, black holes, gravitational waves and cosmology.

PHYS 314:
Introductory Modern Physics

Topics of modern physics of interest to science majors and engineers; atomic and molecular structure and spectra, solid state and nuclear physics, relativity, and elementary particles.

PHYS 333:
Electricity and Magnetism 1

and PR or Conc.: MATH 261. Electrostatics, electrostatics in matter, magnetostatics, magnetostatics in matter.

PHYS 340:
Experimental Space Physics

Laboratory course consisting of an experimental project designed to acquaint students with current techniques for the design and construction of scientific payloads for suborbital and orbital space missions.

PHYS 341:
Advanced Laboratory

Experiments in physics designed to complement theory courses, give experience in data taking and instrumentation, and learn methods of data evaluation and error analysis.

PHYS 471:
Solid State Physics

Properties of crystalline solids; includes crystal structure, interatomic binding, lattice vibrations, electron theory of metals, and the band theory of solids with some applications.

Cost and Aid

How much does Physics at WVU cost? And how can you save?

Tuition and Fees

Estimated rates for the 2018-19 academic year. Rates are subject to change. Anyone that is not a current West Virginia resident will be charged non-resident rates. That includes international students.

West Virginia Resident
Per Credit $403
Per Semester $4,836
Fall and Spring Semesters $9,672
Non-Resident
Per Credit $1,095
Per Semester $13,140
Fall and Spring Semesters $26,280
International
Per Credit $1,095
Per Semester $13,440
Fall and Spring Semesters $26,880
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Ways to Save

Here are a few ways for you to save on the cost of attending WVU in addition to university scholarships.

Ohio Tuition Reciprocity

As the result of a special agreement, students from Ohio who are fully admitted to Physics can enroll at WVU and pay in-state tuition rates. Students must be admitted to both the University and this major.

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Requirements

What are the requirements to apply for Physics at WVU?

Program Requirements

In addition to meeting WVU's base admission standards, first-time freshmen must also meet the following admission requirement for the 2019-20 academic year:

For direction admission to the Physics program:
  • ACT Math: 22
  • SAT Math: 540

If you don't meet the admission requirements for WVU's Physics major, check out some related programs.

University Requirements

To be admitted to WVU's Physics major, you must first meet WVU's first-time freshman admission requirements for the 2019-20 academic year. Interested in transferring? Review the transfer admission requirements.

Next Steps

I like this major. What are the next steps?

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Your first step to becoming a Mountaineer is applying for admission. Our online application makes the process as convenient as possible.

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Request Information

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