McMicken College of Arts & SciencesMcMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

McMicken College of Arts & Sciences


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Physics is the study of the physical laws of nature. Physicists apply these laws to draw conclusions about a wide range of phenomena, from the structures of subatomic particles to planetary motion. Physics majors develop strong analytical skills, learning to produce and examine critically exact quantitative evidence for theories about the workings of the universe.


Quick Info

Program Code


Real-World Learning Components

Optional co-op, Optional internship(s), Research


4 years

Admission Criteria



Main Campus

Freshman Class Profile for this Major

3.044 - 3.660 (4 pt. scale)
21.0 - 26.0
980 - 1180


McMicken College of Arts and Sciences


400 Geology/Physics
PO Box 210011
Cincinnati,OH  45221-0011
Undergraduate Program Director
Phone: 513-556-0501

Student Success Factors

The successful physics student must possess strong skills in mathematics, analytical thinking and writing, and problem solving. The student should be imaginative and welcome challenges. For greatest success, the student should function well both individually and as part of a group.

Career Possibilities

The study of physics provides excellent training in quantitative and analytic approaches to solving problems, as well as experience with computers and laboratory equipment. Physics graduates are highly sought for graduate and professional programs in engineering, computer science, law, economics, medicine, neuroscience, business and teaching, in addition to physics. Physics graduates are also highly valued in the workplace, particularly in the high-tech industries, but also in other areas where analytic abilities and out-of-the-box thinking are assets.

The emphasis on modeling and problem-solving skills as an intrinsic part of a physics education means that graduates of this major can and do pursue many different careers. In addition to continuing on to graduate schools in physics and other professional schools like law, medicine and business, opportunities of our recent graduates include:

  • Science teacher
  • Banking and finance                         
  • Military officer
  • Accelerator operator
  • Research technician
  • Computer engineer                   
  • Software development
  • Aerospace industry
  • Actuary
  • Medical physics

Graduate study in physics includes additional course work and an original research project, culminating in the PhD thesis or dissertation. PhDs in physics are qualified to teach at colleges and universities, as well as to lead independent research at universities, government facilities or in an industrial setting.

Additional career options are listed on the Center for Exploratory Studies website.

Major Details

The physics BS program is designed with some flexibility to allow for a variety of career goals, while providing students with a sound foundation in the principles of physics. The program includes lecture courses in all major fields of physics (including current research areas) and is sufficiently rigorous to enable graduates to be admitted to top graduate schools in physics and astronomy. Other options allow limited course substitutions to accommodate pre-medical requirements, double majors and custom-designed interdisciplinary studies programs. An option for a BS in physics and MS in computer science from the engineering college also exists. In the final year, each student completes an independent project under faculty supervision as part of the capstone experience. This project can take many forms and includes opportunities to conduct research in our labs. The department recently began offering an optional six-month co-op experience in spring and summer of the junior year.

The UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences' flexible degree requirements allow for and highly encourage students to pursue multiple areas of study. Free electives allow for enough credits for students to pursue a minor, certificate program or even complete a second major. Some of the most common pairings are listed below.

  • Biological sciences 
  • Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Mathematical sciences

Minor Details

The undergraduate minor in physics is designed to provide students with a sound introduction to both classical and modern physics. It is offered to students in any college at the University of Cincinnati; however, the required physics courses must be taken in UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S).


Course Requirements (32 total credit hours):


Required Courses (22 hours):

PHYS 2005-2006, 2005L-2006L, College Physics I & II with Labs (10 hours)

MATH 1061-1062, Calculus I & II (8 hours)

MATH 2063, Multivariable Calculus (4 hours)


Core Elective (choose one of the following three courses) (3-5 hours):

PHYS 2076, Semiconductor Physics for Engineers (3 hours)

PHYS 3001C, Intermediate Physics I, (5 hours)

PHYS 3002C, Intermediate Physics II, (5 hours)


Physics Electives (5-8 hours):

Take additional PHYS courses beyond the required and core courses, to reach a total of at least 20 credit hours of physics. At least 6 credits from the Core or Physics Electives must come from 3000 level or higher physics courses.


Click here to declare the minor online


These tools assist students to identify course requirements and individual progress toward completion of academic programs. It is important to utilize these resources with personalized guidance from a UC academic advisor regularly to ensure timely graduation..

My Degree Audit - for confirmed and current students

My Transfer Course Equivalencies - for students considering transfer to UC

UC Schedule of Classes - search course availability and descriptions

Curriculum Guide Versions:

Physics (BS) Curriculum Guide

Predominant Program

    Fall (Year 1)
    • MATH1061, Calculus I, QR, 4
    • PHYS2005, College Physics I (Calculus-based course for physics majors), QR, NS, 4
    • PHYS2005L, College Physics Lab I (Calculus-based course for physics majors), TI, NS, 1
    • XXXXxxxx, Social Science (SS) Course, SS, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Freshman Seminar (if admitted freshman year), 3
    Spring (Year 1)
    • MATH1062, Calculus II, QR, 4
    • PHYS2006, College Physics II (Calculus-based course for physics majors), QR, NS, 4
    • PHYS2006L, College Physics Lab II (Calculus-based course for Physics majors), TI, NS, 1
    • ENGL1001, English Composition, EC, 3
    • HISTxxxx, HIST Course, HP, 3
    Summer (Year 1)
    • N/A
    Fall (Year 2)
    • ENGL2089, Intermediate Composition, EC, 3
    • PHYS3001C, Intermediate Physics I, 5
    • MATH2063, Multivariable Calculus, QR, 4
    • XXXXxxxx, Foreign Language Sequence, 5
    Spring (Year 2)
    • PHYS3002C, Intermediate Physics II, 5
    • MATH2073, Ordinary Differential Equations, QR, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Interdisciplinary Course, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Foreign Language Sequence, 5
    Summer (Year 2)
    • N/A
    Fall (Year 3)
    • PHYS3010, Intermediate Mechanics, 4
    • PHYS3020, Electricity and Magnetism I, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Historical Perspective (HP) Course, HP, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Humanities (HU) or Fine Arts (FA) Course, 3
    Spring (Year 3)
    • PHYS3030, Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics, 4
    • PHYS3021, Electricity and Magnetism II, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Social Science (SS) Course, SS, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Social & Ethical Issues (SE) or Technology & Innovation (TI) Course- may double count, 0 - 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Humanities (HU) Course, HU, 3
    Summer (Year 3)
    • N/A
    Fall (Year 4)
    • PHYS5011, Advanced Laboratory, 3
    • PHYS6010, Introductory Quantum Mechanics I, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Free Elective Course, 4
    • XXXXxxxx, Physic Electives - see list below, 6
    Spring (Year 4)
    • PHYS4099, Physics Capstone Project, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Free Elective Courses, 6
    • XXXXxxxx, Physic Elective Courses - see list below, 6
    Summer (Year 4)
    • N/A
    Physics Elective
    • PHYS3041, Advanced Topics in Astronomy, 3
    • PHYS4025, Introduction to Astrophysics I, 3
    • PHYS4026, Introduction to Astrophysics II, 3
    • PHYS5001, Special Problems in Physics, 1 - 10
    • PHYS5041, Special Topics in Physics, 3
    • PHYS6011, Introductory Quantum Mechanics II, 3
    • PHYS6041, Introduction to Computational Physics, 3
    • PHYS6045, Introduction to Quantum Computing, 3

UC Advantages and Special Opportunities

Students in the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences enjoy many benefits afforded through study at a research-intensive institution ranked among the nation's top 25 public research universities. UC's urban, Tristate location offers exciting opportunities for global education, research and service learning, while its student-centered focus includes an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized Center for Exploratory Studies and a highly successful First Year Experience program that teaches critical skills for first-year students and provides connections with important campus resources.

Special Programs

The physics faculty members engage in forefront research in the major areas in physics. Opportunities are available for students to be involved in such research, often leading to publications. Our relatively small class size allows for significant personal attention to each student. Our curriculum is designed to be flexible to allow for different career goals. Our majors have access to excellent computer facilities, and computation is incorporated intrinsically into our courses. The department recently began offering an optional co-op experience in the summer before the junior or senior year for qualifying students. UC is one of only a few physics departments in the country to offer such an opportunity.

Admission Requirements

Freshmen applicants, please visit the Admission Requirements page for more information.

Transferring to UC Requirements

Admission to A&S is generally available for any off-campus student who was admissible directly from high school and has cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 in the most recent institution.

Students who were not admissible directly from high school must have:

  • 24 semester (36 quarter) hours earned
  • at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 at most recent institution
  • successfully completed one semester of English composition or its equivalent
  • successfully completed one semester of math with a grade of C- or higher that minimally meets on of the following:
    • Mathematical Literacy (MATH 0029)
    • Intermediate Algebra (MATH 0034)
    • Algebra for College (MATH 0039)
    • Students may also take the UC Math Placement exam, but must score an MPT of 420 or higher

University transfer scholarships are available to those who meet specific requirements and ANY admitted A&S transfer student might qualify for an A&S transfer scholarship. Deadlines and eligibility criteria are online via the previous links.

Changing Majors Within UC

Admission to A&S is generally available for University of Cincinnati students enrolled in other colleges if they were admissible directly from high school, have a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 in their most recent UC college.

Students who were not admissible directly from high school must have:

  • at least a 2.0 GPA in all college-level courses (both at UC and at other institutions)
  • successfully completed one semester of English composition or its equivalent
  • successfully completed one semester of math with a grade of C- or higher that minimally meets on of the following:
    • Mathematical Literacy (MATH 0029)
    • Intermediate Algebra (MATH 0034)
    • Algebra for College (MATH 0039)
    • Students may also take the UC Math Placement exam, but must score an MPT of 420 or higher

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, students must:


  • Earn at least 120 credits. This can include transfer credit, AP credit and free electives, but does not include preparatory coursework. Students who have met all other degree requirements must continue earning credit until the total number of their earned hours comes to at least 120.
  • Attain a 2.0 grade point average for all courses taken at the University of Cincinnati.
  • Be in good academic standing, that is, not on either academic probation or disciplinary probation or suspension.
  • Complete the residency requirement by earning at least 30 credits after matriculating into the college.
  • Complete all of the requirements of at least one major (see major requirements above).
  • Complete the College Core Requirements.
  • Submit an application for graduation to the registrar's office by their posted deadline.

Application Deadlines

While midyear admission is possible, fall semester is generally the best time to enter the college, since many course sequences begin in that semester. Applicants to the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences who are enrolled or who were previously enrolled as degree-seeking students in A&S or in other UC colleges should apply for admission directly to A&S (in French West, 2nd Floor). All other applicants who wish to earn an undergraduate degree from A&S should apply through the Office of Admissions (3rd Floor, University Pavilion).


The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.