The Bachelor of Science with a major in physics requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including at least 58 s.h. of work for the major. 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. A cumulative g.p.a. of at least 2.00 is required for graduation. Students must also complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core.

Students must complete several required mathematics courses in addition to their required physics core. The department offers a wide range of upper-level electives and students are encouraged to explore different research areas. All students are strongly encouraged to get involved with research.

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 Science 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.

GE  This course satisfies a General Education requirement.
a  Enrollment in math courses requires completion of a placement exam.
b  Students who choose PHYS:3850 (Electronics)as one of their upper-level elective courses are advised to take it before they take PHYS:3756 (Intermediate Laboratory).
c  Students must take three upper-level elective courses as listed on the General Catalog.

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 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 Science in Physics.

Degree Requirements
Title Hours
Mathematics Courses 16
Introductory Physics Courses 8-12
Physics Core Courses 25
Upper-Level Elective Physics Courses 9-11
GE CLAS Core Courses 25-45 a
Elective Courses 11-37
Total Hours 58-64

 This is the total hours to satisfy all of the GE CLAS Core requirements without including the Natural Science 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 Science 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.

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.