The Bachelor of Arts with a major in physics requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including at least 44 s.h. of work for the major (minimum of 24 s.h. in physics plus 20 s.h. in supporting coursework). The B.A. program requires fewer physics courses than the B.S. program does, giving students a wider choice of electives. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all courses for the major and in all UI courses for the major. They also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core.

The major is designed for students who wish to build a foundation of knowledge in physics but do not plan a research-oriented career in the discipline. The B.A. program also is good preparation for students interested in secondary school science teaching; see "Teacher Licensure" below. 

Listed below are the general categories of coursework required to earn the degree; for more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Bachelor of Arts in physics, visit the UI General Catalog.

Plan of Study

The plan of study below lists only the core courses required for a B.A. in Physics.  This does not include required GE CLAS Core courses, which may be found here, and electives.  Undergraduates are also strongly encouraged to be active participants in research within the department.

Sample Plan of Study
year semester PHYSICS Physics math
(PHYS:1701) - 4 s.h.
  Calculus I GE a
(MATH:1850) - 4 s.h.
  SPRING Physics II GE
(PHYS:1702) - 4 s.h
  Calculus II
(MATH:1860) - 4 s.h.
(PHYS:2703) - 4 s.h.
  Intro to Linear Algebra b
(MATH:2700) - 4 s.h.
  SPRING Physics IV
(PHYS:2704) - 4 s.h.
  Calculus III b
(MATH:2850) - 4 s.h.
THIRD FALL Intermediate Laboratory
(PHYS:3756) - 3 s.h.
A physics elective course numbered 3000 or higher c  
  SPRING Additional STEM course in chosen thematic area d A physics elective course numbered 3000 or higher c  
FOURTH FALL Additional STEM course in chosen thematic area d A physics elective course numbered 3000 or higher c  
  SPRING Additional STEM course in chosen thematic area d Additional STEM course in chosen thematic area d  

GE  This course satisfies a General Education requirement.
a  Enrollment in math courses requires completion of a placement exam.
b  While this course is not a major requirement, it is strongly recommended and a prerequisite for many physics and astronomy courses in the department.
c  See General Catalog for a list of approved courses.
d  Students should work with their academic advisor to select courses that fit with their plan of study.

GE CLAS Core Requirements

The GE CLAS Core has 11 required areas, grouped into three categories. Students must fulfill the requirements in each GE CLAS Core area. The requirements below are for students who entered the University of Iowa during Summer 2023 or after. Students who entered during a previous semester are held to different requirements as indicated on a student's degree audit.

General Education CLAS Core Courses
clas core category Core area requirements
Communication and Literacy Diversity and Inclusion Minimum of 3 s.h.
  Interpretation of Literature Minimum of 3 s.h.
  Rhetoric Minimum of 4 s.h.
  World Languages Requirements vary by language (0 s.h. - 20 s.h.)
Sustainability Sustainability a Minimum of one course from the next two categories that integrates sustainability (0 s.h.)
Natural, Quantitative and Social Sciences Natural Sciences b Minimum of 7 s.h.; must include one lab
  Quantitative or Formal Reasoning c Minimum of 3 s.h.
  Social Sciences Minimum of 3 s.h.
Culture, Society, and the Arts Historical Perspectives Minimum of 3 s.h.
  International and Global Issues Minimum of 3 s.h.
  Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts Minimum of 3 s.h.
  Values and Culture Minimum of 3 s.h.

a  A single course may satisfy both the Sustainability requirement as well as another Core Category - either Natural, Quantitative, and Social Sciences or Culture, Society, and the Arts.
b  The Natural Sciences GE requirements are met by taking PHYS:1701 and PHYS:1702 (Physics I and II) or ASTR:1771 and ASTR:1772 (Intro Astronomy I and II).
c  The Quantitative or Formal Reasoning GE requirements are fulfilled by taking MATH:1850 (Calculus I).

Degree Requirements

Below is a summary of the total semester hour requirements to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Physics.

Degree Requirements
Title Hours
Mathematics Courses 8
Required Physics Courses 15-19
Elective Physics Courses 9-10
Supporting Coursework 12
GE CLAS Core Courses 25-45 a
Elective Courses 26-51
Total Hours 44-49

 This total does not include the Natural Sciences or Quantitative Formal Reasoning requirements, both of which are met with required courses in the major.

Double Major in Physics and Astronomy

Students working toward a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in physics and in astronomy must complete all requirements for both majors and must earn a minimum of 56 s.h. outside the Department of Physics and Astronomy in order to graduate. Students interested in earning a double major should consult with their advisors. See Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website.

Dual Degrees in Physics and Engineering

Qualified students who are interested in both Physics and Engineering may wish to pursue a dual degree option leading to both a Bachelor of Arts in physics and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in one of several engineering disciplines (Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, Industrial and Systems, and Mechanical Engineering). The dual degree program may be started from either the Physics major or from an Engineering major. The program can usually be completed in 5 years (or less), depending on individual circumstances.

Physics Pre-Medicine Curriculum

If you are interested in Physics, but intend to go to Medical or Dental School after graduation, the Physics Department can accommodate your needs. The Bachelor of Arts in physics offers enough flexibility in scheduling for a student to satisfy both the physics major B.A. requirements and the Pre-Med curriculum requirements. Our graduates have a good record of success in gaining admission to medical school. Please contact Professor Jane Nachtman for more information.

Teacher Licensure

Students interested in teaching in elementary and/or secondary schools should seek admission to the Teacher Education Program (TEP) in the College of Education.

To qualify for licensure in secondary teaching, students in the TEP complete a degree in education as well as a related College of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree. See Teacher Education Program Application and Admission on the College of Education website for details on requirements and deadlines for applying to the College of Education and about TEP choices of majors leading to licensure.