Physics Undergraduate Degree Programs

(For undergraduate programs in Astronomy and Astrophysics, please see Astronomy and Astrophysics web site. )

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa offers undergraduate degree programs in the following areas:

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Degrees Requirement

Students must complete the following courses with grades of C (not C minus) or better:

  • Phys 170/170L, 272/272L, 274/274L, 310, 350, 400, 480
  • One course in advanced laboratory or applied techniques: Computational / Numerical Methods (Phys 305 or Math 407), or Electronics (Phys 475 or EE 211), or Advanced Physics Lab (Phys 480L)
  • Chem 161/161L or 171/171L or 181A/181L
  • Math 241, 242, 243 and 244; or Math 251A, 252A, and 253A
  • Math 307 or 311
  • Minimum of 15 credits of an approved Interdisciplinary Concentration (IC) course program
    • Courses must be chosen to form a coherent theme related to physics
    • Minimum of 12 credits must be non-introductory courses at the 200 level or above
    • Proposed IC courses (and any modifications) must be approved by physics department chair or his/her designee
    • Approval shall be granted only after the student has passed (or is currently enrolled in) Phys 274, 274L, and Math 243 or 253A

Upon approval of a physics department adviser, Math 215 and 216 may be substituted for Math 241 and 242, and Phys 170 through 272L may be satisfied by Phys 151 through 152L.

Students must complete 46 credit hours in physics courses, including:

  • Phys 170/170L, 272/272L, 274/274L, 310, 350, 400, 430, 450, 480, 480L and 481
  • One course from Phys 400, 460 or 490
  • Two courses from Phys 305, 475 or 481L
  • Chem 161/161L and 162/262L or 171/171L or 181A/181L
  • Math 241, 242, 243, 244, and 311 or 307 (Math 251A, 252A 253A may be subsituted for math 241, 242, 243, 244.  Math 215, 216 may be subsituted for Math 241, 242 with consent from physics advisor.)
  • Grade of C (not C minus) or better in above courses

Upon approval of a physics department adviser and chair, the PHYS 170 through 272L requirements may be satisfied by PHYS 151 through 152L; and requirements for PHYS 305 (or 475 or 481L), 440 (or 460 or 490), 450, 480, and 480L, may be modified to accommodate a special emphasis or interdisciplinary program that is appropriate for the major in physics.

  • Phys 151/151L and 152/152L or Phys 170/170L
  • Phys 274 (lab not necessary)
  • 15 additonal upper division credit hours, including Phys 310, 250, and 480
  • Grade of C (not C minus) or better in the above courses

Upon Recoomendation of a physics department chair and adviser, requirements for Phys 310, 350, and 480 may be modified if an equivalent course is taken in another department.

Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) Degrees

The Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree programs have very nearly the same basic requirements for courses in physics, chemistry and mathematics.  The B.A. program, however, requires approximately eleven courses in the humanities and social sciences, while the B.S. program specifies approximately eight such courses.  A second-level year of a foreign language is required for both the B.A. and B.S. programs.  Students are also required to complete five writing intensive courses before graduation – see the General Catalog for more information.

The physics major is a program that requires careful planning on the part of the student. It is broadly based not only upon physics courses but also upon a good foundation of mathematics and, often, upon advanced work in such related areas as astronomy, chemistry and engineering. In view of the very large variety of opportunities available to those who have a good fundamental background in physics and mathematics, it is important that the student take advantage of his/her undergraduate years at the University to investigate and experience some of these possibilities to the fullest extent practicable.

Special Emphasis - B.S. Degree Program

Some examples of specialized preparation which the student can initiate as an undergraduate physics major.

Applied Physicist
A four-year degree program can prepare the student for work in industrial and government laboratories in a variety of positions ranging from computer programming to experimental physics. For this purpose, the student should select elective courses in advanced mathematical analysis (including Physics 400) and basic engineering, such as, for example, electronics. A broad four-year physics major program plus some courses in business administration can be good preparation for laboratory and industrial management, and for an M.S. program in Business Administration.
Scientific Professions
Nearly all scientific professions require graduate training (Master of Science, Professional or Ph.D. degrees). For many of these professions, graduate schools consider the physics major, plus properly selected special courses, to be optimum undergraduate preparation.
Inter-disciplinary Fields
In order to select the courses that might best complete an undergraduate physics major program in preparation for inter-disciplinary fields, the student should consult not only his/her physics advisor but also the prospective graduate school. These interdisciplinary fields include Biophysics, Chemical Physics, Environmental Science, Geophysics, Medical Physics, Meteorology, and Oceanography. Most graduate schools in engineering will accept the physics major as undergraduate training.
Secondary Education Science Teaching
Another important field for which the undergraduate physics major can be strongly recommended is that of Secondary School Science Teaching. The four- year physics major program would then be augmented by basic courses in biology and geosciences. The remaining requirements for the teaching credential, including practice teaching, are easily accommodated in a fifth year with the College of Education.

Special Emphasis - B.S. Degree Program

Some examples of specialized preparation which the student can initiate as an undergraduate physics major.

A four-year degree program can prepare the student for work in industrial and government laboratories in a variety of positions ranging from computer programming to experimental physics. For this purpose, the student should select elective courses in advanced mathematical analysis (including Physics 400) and basic engineering, such as, for example, electronics. A broad four-year physics major program plus some courses in business administration can be good preparation for laboratory and industrial management, and for an M.S. program in Business Administration.

Nearly all scientific professions require graduate training (Master of Science, Professional or Ph.D. degrees). For many of these professions, graduate schools consider the physics major, plus properly selected special courses, to be optimum undergraduate preparation.

In order to select the courses that might best complete an undergraduate physics major program in preparation for inter-disciplinary fields, the student should consult not only his/her physics advisor but also the prospective graduate school. These interdisciplinary fields include Biophysics, Chemical Physics, Environmental Science, Geophysics, Medical Physics, Meteorology, and Oceanography. Most graduate schools in engineering will accept the physics major as undergraduate training.

Another important field for which the undergraduate physics major can be strongly recommended is that of Secondary School Science Teaching. The four- year physics major program would then be augmented by basic courses in biology and geosciences. The remaining requirements for the teaching credential, including practice teaching, are easily accommodated in a fifth year with the College of Education.
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