Department of Physics & Astronomy

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Prospective Undergraduate FAQ

Physics Degree Options

What is the difference between a BA and a BS?

A BA degree offers more free electives, and requires a minor so the degree can be tailored toward personal interests. This degree is commonly pursued by students interested in teaching or attending a professional school (medical, law, etc.). A BS degree requires more in-depth upper division physics classes, and only a few elective spots. Typically, a student interested in graduate school or a highly scientific or technical career would complete the BS.

What is a minor?

A minor is a set of classes you take that will give you a more in-depth knowledge of a subject than taking a class or two, but does not require as many hours as a major. Minors are 15 – 18 hours long. The Registrar’s Office has a list of University Approved Minors.

Although the BS degree doesn’t require a minor, can I still have one?

Yes, most students who graduate with a BS degree have at least one minor. Many of the science and engineering minors fit easily into the BS degree, with few or no extra courses required.

Can I pursue a double major or double degree? What is the difference?

Some Physics majors choose to declare a double major or double degree. The amount of extra classes and time required depends on the major. Officially, a double major requires less “extra” work than a double degree. Some degrees, like Physics and Math work fine together in a double major. Other degrees, such as Physics and any Engineering make more sense with a double degree. With a double major, you will get one diploma with both majors listed on it. With a double degree, you will get two separate diplomas. A double major must consist of two of the same type of degree (i.e., BS and BS). If you are pursuing a BA and a BS, you will need a double degree. If you are interested in either a double major or degree, please contact an academic advisor.

What are electives and what can I take for them?

Electives are any class in the catalog that is not already on your degree plan. Students pursuing a BS in Physics have 6 hours of general electives, 3 hours of physics elective and 3 hours of science and technical electives. A student pursuing a BA has 28 hours of general electives and 3 hours of science and technical electives. Courses for minors can be used to fill general elective hours. General electives are often filled by unrequired, but recommended prerequisite courses, courses of special interest to a student and courses that advance the graduation goals of a student.

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