BA in Physics
The undergraduate physics program at Minnesota offers a flexible, real-world approach to the physics major. We offer physics major programs that prepare you for careers in engineering and applied physics, computer applications, secondary school teaching, or biomedical sciences.
Physics learning is a process that involves intellectual engagement and hands-on experience. Imagination, creativity, real world problem solving, communication, and team work are an important part of the process. We emphasize the important connection between reality and theory with a substantive laboratory component to every physics program. Each includes a year long course called Methods in Experimental Physics in which students get experience using modern experimental equipment, including computer interfacing, and end up designing, constructing, analyzing, and presenting the results of their own experiment. All physics majors are encouraged to participate in our research groups working on the frontiers of knowledge.
The BA in Physics
The College of Liberal Arts offers a bachelor of arts (BA) in Physics; it’s administered through the School of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science and Engineering, which also offers a bachelor of science in Physics (BS). This may be confusing, so here we explain the similarities and differences between the two options.
- The BA and BS are equally challenging. The major courses are the same for both degrees and students from both take their classes together. The pre-requisite courses to enter the major are the same.
- Admissions to the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science & Engineering are different; you might get into one college but not the other.
- The structure of the degrees are slightly different. The BA has more flexibility if you want to pursue multiple interests, allowing space in your degree plan for breadth and depth; the BS degree program offers opportunities to take additional physics and technical courses.
- The BA degree requires proficiency in a second language.
The Liberal Arts Advantage
Students who choose the BA degree have the option to add relevant minors to their major and their electives will help them develop skills that employers look for, above and beyond technical skills developed in the major courses. These core career competencies include:
- Analytical & Critical Thinking
- Applied Problem Solving
- Ethical Reasoning & Decision Making
- Innovation & Creativity
- Oral & Written Communication
- Teamwork & Leadership
- Engaging Diversity
- Active Citizenship & Community Engagement
- Digital Literacy
- Career Management
Consider your own interests and career goals and consult with an advisor when deciding whether to apply to the College of Liberal Arts (for the BA) or College of Science & Engineering (for the BS). Both degrees will prepare you well for your future.
All liberal arts degrees help CLA students develop their Core Career Competencies, and physics majors develop specific skills that are applicable to lots of different careers. These skills include critical thinking and analyzing skills, information and data management, research and analysis skills, written communication skills, and ability to work independently and collaboratively.
Students who take the SuperStrong Interest Inventory receive a three-letter interest code, which identifies their top three areas of interest, work activities, potential skills, and personal values. The interest code "ISE" is often associated with this major, however, the SuperStrong assessment can help you understand how your interests connect to a variety of majors and career options. You can learn more about common employer types and occupations associated with this major. You can also see CLA specific examples of alumni careers below.
Internship & Job Search Websites
- MN Employers Who Hire Physics Graduates
- American Astronomical Society-Internships
- Careers in Physics
- Physical Scientists Jobs
- Science Careers
- Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
- American Astronomical Society
- American Physical Society
- Minnesota Astronomical Society
- American Institute of Physics
Alumni Career Examples
Below is a small sampling of what alumni with this major have pursued, organized by the most common career fields they go into (although keep in mind that there are alumni in all eight of the career fields). You can also utilize the LinkedIn's Alumni Tool and the Maroon and Gold Network to further explore alumni career pathways and connect directly with professionals.
Note: *Asterisks denote that further education and/or training is often required
Intervention Specialist, Minnesota Math Corps
Lab Assistant, University of Minnesota
Search Engine Marketing, InsideOut Solutions
Community Risk Reduction Officer, Minneapolis Fire Department
Director of Faith Formation, Cathedral of Saint Paul
General Counsel, Coloplast*
Professor of Physics, Penn State University*
Sales Engineer, Harland Medical Systems, Inc.
Senior Staff Scientist, Nova Research, Inc.
Supplier Development Engineer, Polaris Industries*