faculty member working with students in a laboratory

As the most fundamental of the sciences, physics encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles and has applications in areas ranging from astronomy to medicine. At its core, physics consists of the basic principles and study of how everything works. From quarks to electricity to black-holes, physics is all around us.

Ball State’s major in physics will prepare you for a wide variety of exciting and well-paying career opportunities.

The best thing about being a physics major at Ball State is the interaction within the department. I know almost every physics major and professor and all of them are willing to help if I ask. It’s a huge relief to know I’m not just a statistic.

Maggie Schmits, program graduate (2017)

What You Will Learn

Ball State physics majors gain knowledge in theory and learn to solve practical problems. Early involvement in research—where you’ll work closely with faculty members—prepares you for challenging careers as technical problem solvers.

Physics majors may work in challenging, problem-solving positions, such as:

  • Engineering positions, including product development involving computer hardware and software
  • environmental or industrial management
  • research and technical positions
  • education as middle school or high school teachers

What It’s Like to Major in Physics at Ball State


Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in independent study and research, working one-on-one with faculty mentors.You’ll get to conduct research in areas such as nanoscience, astronomy and astrophysics, medical physics, and nuclear and particle physics.

Through research projects, you gain valuable professional skills and experience working with modern technical facilities and equipment. These include the College of Science and Humanities supercomputing cluster, a new 20-inch diameter telescope in the observatory, and more.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is also a member of the SARA consortium that operates three research-grade telescopes located in some of the best sites in the world: southwest Arizona, Chile, and the Canary Islands. Our students (and occasionally high-school students) often make observations with these telescopes and become authors on published scientific papers.

Careers in education and outreach are fostered through the Charles W. Brown Planetarium on campus.

Our department offers nine scholarships to students seeking bachelor's degrees, as well as employment opportunities.

Our students have worked as lab assistants and in the Charles W. Brown Planetarium, which features a 52-foot diameter dome – the largest in Indiana.

Our Society of Physics Students (SPS) is an active, student-run club that engages in a number of social and outreach programs.

The SPS organizes cooperative events with organizations on campus, including our annual “Clash of the Sciences” demo competition between physics and chemistry student groups.

As part of your senior capstone experience, you will pursue scientific knowledge on a topic of your choice and hone technical skills that will be attractive to employers in many fields.

We offer research opportunities in:

  • astronomy and astrophysics
  • computational nanoscience
  • condensed matter physics
  • medical physics
  • nanomaterials and devices
  • nuclear and radiation physics
  • particle physics
  • physics education

Major Requirements

As a physics major, you’ll start with a common core of courses for all students in our program. You’ll then choose one of three concentrations: general physics, applied physics, or medical physics.

Credits Required

Total: 120

  • Major: 65-67
    • Physics Common Core: 53
    • General Physics Concentration: 12
    • Applied Physics Concentration: 14
  • University Core Curriculum: 36

Concentrations

General Physics

Choose this option if you want to head to graduate school right after graduation or pursue an industrial career in physics, astronomy, or engineering.

Credits

Total: 65

Courses

A few of the classes you will take include:

  • PHYC 120-122 General Physics 1-2
  • PHYC 262 Modern Physics Laboratory
  • PHYC 330 Mechanics
  • PHYC 434 Thermodynamics
  • PHYC 450 Electricity and Magnetism
  • PHYC 464 Intro to Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYC 465 Quantum Mechanics

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Course Catalog.

View Catalog

Choose this option if you are ready to throw on your lab coat and go to work with technology, imaging, or in a cool lab.

Credits

Total: 67

Courses

  • PHYC 120-122 General Physics 1-2
  • PHYC 262 Modern Physics Laboratory
  • PHYC 354-356 Electronics 1-2
  • PHYC 434 Thermodynamics
  • PHYC 450 Electricity and Magnetism
  • PHYC 464 Intro to Quantum Mechanics

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Course Catalog.

View Catalog

What Can You Do with a Degree in Physics?

Physics study provides a good base of knowledge and skills for a wide variety of career opportunities. There are many “hidden physicists” who work in exciting jobs
such as video game designer, fashion technologist, fighter pilot, and more. Many of our students continue to graduate school for physics, astronomy, and related fields. Many have successful careers as research scientists.

They choose to further their physics education to pursue careers in:

  • research
  • higher education
  • medical physics
  • atmospheric science
  • medicine
  • engineering disciplines

Read about Our Alumni

Paying for Your Education

Department Scholarships

On top of the dozens of funding options offered through Ball State’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, our department awards scholarships to our own students. Find a scholarship.

Apply to Ball State

Admission to Ball State is selective, and we carefully evaluate all applications on an individual basis. Applying is easy. Use our convenient, comprehensive, and secure online application.

Apply Now

Questions?

One of the best ways to understand why Ball State stands out is to come see it for yourself. You can schedule a visit through our Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Make sure to tell them you’re interested in our program. Or if you’d like to speak with someone in our department directly by phone or email, please contact us.