University Catalog 2024-2025

Physics (BA)

Physics provides the conceptual foundation for science and engineering. A physics degree is a mark of major intellectual achievement and a gateway to a thousand careers. The physics major at NC State combines the resources of a major research university with the ambience of a small college. Our ratio of physics majors to faculty of about 3 to 1 allows us to offer small classes, personal attention, and unparalleled opportunities for involvement in research.

Most physics majors are preparing for employment in a government or industrial laboratory, or with a company that provides STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) products or services. Other physics majors are preparing for graduate studies in physics or related sciences, or enrollment in professional schools (such as medicine or law). Some physics majors are preparing for a career as a high school teacher. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) curriculum has a flexible course of study if you desire an interdisciplinary program with an emphasis on physics.

For more information about this program, visit our website.

Department of Physics
NC State University
Campus Box 8202
Raleigh, NC 27695-8202

Dr. Dan Dougherty
Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs
NC State University
Riddick Hall 101
Raleigh, NC 27695-8202
Phone: 919.514.2610


Plan Requirements

Science of Change (Verify Requirement)
Select one of the following Advanced Writing courses:3
Communication for Engineering and Technology
Communication for Business and Management
Communication for Science and Research
ENG 101Academic Writing and Research 14
PY 201University Physics I 14
PY 202University Physics II 14
PY 203University Physics III 14
PY 252Instrumental and Data Analysis for Physics 12
PY 401Quantum Physics I 13
PY 411Mechanics I 13
PY 413Thermal Physics 13
PY 414Electromagnetism I 13
PY 452Advanced Physics Laboratory3
Math / Statistics / Computing
MA 141Calculus I 14
MA 241Calculus II 14
MA 242Calculus III 14
MA 341Applied Differential Equations I 13
MA 405Introduction to Linear Algebra 13
Statistics Elective 13
PY 251Introduction to Scientific Computing 13
Computing / Numerical Methods Elective 13
Science/Tech Electives
CH 101Chemistry - A Molecular Science 13
CH 102General Chemistry Laboratory 11
Basic Science Elective 13
Technical Electives 113
Courses at the 300 level or above in science, mathematics, technology , engineering, and in math and science education.
GEP Courses
GEP Humanities6
GEP Social Sciences6
GEP Health and Exercise Studies2
GEP US Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion3
GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives5
GEP Global Knowledge (verify requirement)
World Language Proficiency (verify requirement)
Restricted Electives6
Select courses from the GEP Humanities list, GEP Social Sciences list, GEP Visual and Performing Arts list, and from courses at the 200 level or above in Education or Management.
Free Electives
Free Electives (12 Hr S/U Lmt) 29
Total Hours120

A grade of C- or higher is required.


Students should consult their academic advisors to determine which courses fill this requirement.

Statistics Electives

BUS 350Economics and Business Statistics3
EC 351Econometrics I3
ST 3054
ST 307Introduction to Statistical Programming- SAS1
ST 308Introduction to Statistical Programming - R1
ST 311Introduction to Statistics3
ST 312Introduction to Statistics II3
ST 350Economics and Business Statistics3
ST 370Probability and Statistics for Engineers3
ST 371Introduction to Probability and Distribution Theory3
ST 372Introduction to Statistical Inference and Regression3
ST 3803

Computing / Numerical Methods Electives

CSC 302Introduction to Numerical Methods3
CSC 427Introduction to Numerical Analysis I3
CSC 428Introduction to Numerical Analysis II3
MA 402Mathematics of Scientific Computing3
MA 427Introduction to Numerical Analysis I3
MA 428Introduction to Numerical Analysis II3
PY 525Computational Physics3

Basic Science Elective

BIO 1655
BIO 181Introductory Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity4
BIO 183Introductory Biology: Cellular and Molecular Biology4
BME 2033
CE 225Mechanics of Solids3
CH 201Chemistry - A Quantitative Science3
CH 202Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory1
CH 203General Chemistry II for Students in Chemical Sciences3
CH 204General Chemistry Laboratory II for Students in Chemical Sciences1
CH 220Introductory Organic Chemistry3
CH 222Organic Chemistry I Lab1
CHE 205Chemical Process Principles4
GN 301Genetics in Human Affairs3
MAE 214Solid Mechanics3
MEA 101Geology I: Physical3
MEA 110Geology I Laboratory1
MEA 200Introduction to Oceanography3
MEA 210Oceanography Lab1
MEA 215Introduction to Atmospheric Sciences4
MEA 220Marine Biology3
MSE 200Mechanical Properties of Structural Materials3
MSE 201Structure and Properties of Engineering Materials3
MSE 2033
NE 202Radiation Sources, Interaction and Detection4
TE 200Introduction to Polymer Science and Engineering3

Semester Sequence

This is a sample.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
PY 201 University Physics I (CP) 1 4
MA 141 Calculus I (CP) 2 4
ENG 101 Academic Writing and Research 4
GEP Health and Exercise Studies 1
COS 100 Science of Change 2
Spring Semester
PY 202 University Physics II (CP) 1 4
MA 241 Calculus II (CP) 2 4
CH 101 Chemistry - A Molecular Science 3 3
CH 102 General Chemistry Laboratory 3 1
GEP Humanities 3
Second Year
Fall Semester
PY 203 University Physics III (CP) 1,3 4
PY 251 Introduction to Scientific Computing 2 3
MA 242 Calculus III (CP) 2 4
Restricted Elective 3
GEP Health and Exercise Studies 1
Spring Semester
PY 411 Mechanics I (CP) 1 3
PY 252 Instrumental and Data Analysis for Physics 1 2
MA 341 Applied Differential Equations I 2 3
GEP Social Sciences 3
Technical Elective 3 1
Free Elective 3
Third Year
Fall Semester
PY 414 Electromagnetism I 1 3
MA 405 Introduction to Linear Algebra 1 3
Advanced Writing Elective 3
GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives 3
Technical Elective 3 3
Spring Semester
PY 401 Quantum Physics I 1 3
Computing/Numerical Methods Elective 2 3
Statistics Elective 2 3
GEP Humanities 3
Technical Elective 3 3
Fourth Year
Fall Semester
PY 452 Advanced Physics Laboratory 3
Basic Sciences Elective 3 3
GEP Social Sciences 3
Technical Elective 3 3
Free Elective 3
Spring Semester
PY 413 Thermal Physics 1 3
GEP US Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 3
Technical Elective 3 3
Restricted Elective 3
Free Elective 3
 Total Hours120

At most one passing grade below C- is permitted in the Physics category.


At most one passing grade below C- is permitted in the Math/Statistics/Computing category.


At most one passing grade below C- is permitted in the Sciences/Technical Electives category.

Career Opportunities

Career Titles

  • Aeronautical & Aerospace Engineer
  • Aerospace Engineering Technician
  • Architect
  • Astronomer
  • Atmospheric and Space Scientist
  • Biophysicist
  • Cartographer and Photogrammetrists
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Research Analyst
  • Fuel Cell Engineers
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hazardous Waste Management Analyst
  • Hydrographer
  • Hydrologist
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Materials Engineer
  • Materials Scientist
  • Mathematician
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Meteorologist
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Nuclear Fuels Research Engineer
  • Oceanographer
  • Optometrist
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Photogrammetrist
  • Physicist
  • Physics Professor
  • Radiation Protection Engineer
  • Seismologist
  • Soil Engineer
  • Solar Energy Systems Designer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Sustainability Specialists
  • Technical Publications Writer
  • Water Pollution Control Inspector
  • Weather Forecaster

Learn More About Careers
Explore North Carolina’s central online resource for students, parents, educators, job seekers and career counselors looking for high quality job and career information.

Occupational Outlook Handbook
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Focus 2 Career Assessment (NC State student email address required)
This career, major and education planning system is available to current NC State students to learn about how your values, interests, competencies, and personality fit into the NC State majors and your future career. An NC State email address is required to create an account. Make an appointment with your career counselor to discuss the results.

American Institute of Physics

American Physical Society