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

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.
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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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