Physics (B.S.)

If your long-term objectives include graduate study in physics or a closely related field such as astronomy, engineering, or applied physics, you’ll find excellent preparation in Ithaca’s new physics B.S. program, which emphasizes research-intensive laboratory and methods courses and hands-on research in collaboration with physics faculty. The department also features a performance-based teaching laboratory that facilitates the latest methods in physics education.

Ithaca’s physics department is large enough to offer well-equipped, state-of-the-art research labs yet small enough to offer ample opportunity for individualized instruction. Scientific research is the cornerstone of the curriculum; the B.S. program requires the completion of an individualized research project and the submission of a related thesis. Students also collaborate with professors on faculty research projects, and they frequently present research findings on campus as well as regionally and nationally (for example, at meetings of the American Physical Society).

You’ll complete focused and intensive methods courses; an advanced lab in quantum mechanics or another research field; and an advanced course in a selected topic, such as astrophysics, optics, solid state physics, or electromagnetism. You may want to take additional coursework in advanced physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, or biology to strengthen your skills in areas that interest you. A thesis is also required before graduation. Here are a few recent titles: “Determination of Age and Mass of Herbig Ae/Be Stars”; “Identifying and Reducing Positional Errors in Cesium Magnetometer Surveys”; and “Compost Thermal Heating Project,” a student’s ingenious exploitation of the heat generated by compost heaps to recharge cell phone batteries.

Whatever career path you imagine, our combination of rigorous academic preparation and the mastery of research skills will prepare you for the real world. Recent graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs at the University of Illinois and Oregon State University and advanced study in astronomy at Cornell University.

Students create supercold atoms with a magneto-optical trap.
Selected Courses
  • Modern Physics
  • Mathematical Methods in Physics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Analytical Mechanics
  • Independent Research