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:

CLA's Core Career Competencies
  • 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.