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Department of Physics and Astronomy


Undergraduate Program Degree Options:

The Bachelor of Science in Physics degree comes in a number of flavors, each with its own core requirements. You, in consultation with your academic advisor, can then further customize your academic program through the inclusion of elective courses that may include undergraduate research and special topics as available. Our focus on individual attention for each student is designed to ensure that you will find the right plan of study for your interests.

Physics B.S.

The Bachelor of Science in Physics degree is our department's flagship program. The degree comprises a minimum of 46 credit hours of physics study, 10 credit hours of chemistry, and 12 credit hours of mathematics. A template plan of study has been designed for incoming freshmen but many students find that they like to customize their program to incorporate undergraduate research or a greater focus on a particular field of physics. Our department's undergraduate academic advisor for physics is available to answer any questions that you may have.

Astronomy Emphasis

The most popular modification to the standard physics B.S. degree is the incorporation of an Astronomy Emphasis. This designation will appear on a student's transcript. A template plan of study has been designed for incoming freshmen, but this too can be customized depending on the student's academic goals. The main modifications to the standard physics B.S. are the incorporation of four astronomy courses, a computer programming course, and a slight de-emphasis on the chemistry requirement. Physics courses from the standard physics B.S. degree that were deemed less necessary for the Astronomy Emphasis were dropped from the requirements such that the emphasis requires only one credit hour more than a standard physics B.S. degree. This degree option is ideal for students that want to take on the fascinating challenges that are present in all of the astrophysical sciences. Our department's undergraduate academic advisor for astronomy is available to answer any questions that you may have.

Pre-Med Track

The other popular modification to the standard physics B.S. is designed for students that plan to attend medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, nursing school, or participate in any other health sciences related graduate or professional program after obtaining their physics degree. Please visit with the Undergraduate Advisor for Physics to design your plan of study. The main modifications to the standard physics B.S. are the incorporation of eight credit hours of biology courses and ten credit hours of chemistry courses with a slight three credit de-emphasis on physics. This is a challenging and rewarding program with strong exposure to the diverse fields of science that are needed for excellence in the medical professions and sciences. Our department's undergraduate academic advisor for physics is available to answer any questions that you may have.

The Bachelor of Arts in Physics degree is our department's most flexible degree option. You, in consultation with your academic advisor, can customize your academic program through the inclusion of elective courses that may include undergraduate research and special topics as available. Our focus on individual attention for each student is designed to ensure that you will find the right plan of study for your interests.

The Bachelor of Arts in Physics degree has a set of requirements that will allow you to develop the core competencies in physics that you desire, but it is structured to allow you to pursue a path of your choosing. The degree comprises a minimum of 38 credit hours of physics study with the only specific requirements beyond the 200 Level Physics for Scientists and Engineers series being the Advanced Experimental Lab experience. A template plan of study has been designed for incoming freshmen, but most Physics B.A. students find that they like to customize this program to focus on a particular area of physics or to incorporate a minor from another field in the university. Our department's undergraduate academic advisor for physics is available to answer any questions that you may have.

Many degree programs from other departments in the university require that students take a two semester series of physics courses from our department. You may not realize it, but after completing this series you may already be over halfway toward getting a Physics Minor onto your transcript! Even better, training in a physical science helps prepares you to be competitive in a broad range of careers from high-tech to medicine, from engineering to law, and from scientific journalism to education. As a minor, you will have access to a host of exciting courses and laboratory experiences where you can learn about Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, other marvels of modern physics, and where you can perform classic experiments that demonstrate the fundamental principles by which our universe operates. The Physics Minor can lead to "499" research projects and paid summer internships for the most interested students. Furthermore, you will also be able to get involved with UMKC's active and award winning Society of Physics Students and you will gain easy access to professional physicists for advising.

Students starting from the Physics 210/220 course series will need to take 10 more credits of physics courses with at least 9 of them being at the 300/400 level. The most common path that students take to reach that goal is to take one of our introductory (100 Level) courses in either physics or astronomy followed by modern physics (350), the electronics lab experience (385L), and the advanced lab experience (476L). For students that have a math background that includes exposure to calculus (even at the high school level with approval), other popular choices include thermal physics, methods of theoretical physics, and any of the advanced astronomy courses.

Students starting from the Physics 240/250 series will need to take only 8 more credits of physics courses at the 300/400 level to complete a minor. Many students in this case have acquired sufficient proficiency in calculus (Math 210/220) so as to be able to take any of the upper division courses that the department offers without further approval. You will be able to customize your physics minor to include a focus on any particular area such as laboratory experiences, theoretical physics, or astronomy.

In any case, please contact our department's academic advisor for physics to obtain personalized one-on-one guidance about how to include a Physics Minor into your academic plan of study.

Many degree programs from other departments in the university require that students take a two semester series of physics courses from our department. You may not realize it, but after completing this series you may already be over halfway toward getting an Astronomy Minor onto your transcript! Even better, training in a physical science better prepares you to be competitive in a broad range of careers from high-tech to medicine, from engineering to law, and from scientific journalism to education. As an astronomy minor, you will have access to a host of exciting courses and observational experiences where you can learn about telescopes, stars, galaxies, and the whole universe. The Astronomy Minor can lead to "499" research projects and paid summer internships. Additional benefits include: Astro-Hour, a weekly student led astronomy discussion session, access to ASKC Astronomy scholarships, training at the Warko Observatory on top of Royall Hall, and easy access to professional astronomers for advising.

Students starting from the Physics 210/220 course series will need to take 10 more credits of astronomy courses with at least 9 of them being at the 300/400 level. The most common path that students take to reach that goal is to take one of the introductory level astronomy courses or lab experiences followed by any three of the four upper division astronomy courses. Because of the math requirements associated with the upper division astronomy courses, this path to an Astronomy Minor requires approval from the department's astronomy academic advisor.

Students starting from the Physics 240/250 series will need to take only 8 more credits of astronomy courses at the 300/400 level to complete an Astronomy Minor. Most students in this case have acquired sufficient proficiency in calculus (Math 210/220) so as to be able to take any three of the four upper division astronomy courses that the department offers without further approval.

In any case, please contact our department's academic advisor for astronomy to obtain personalized one-on-one guidance about how to include an Astronomy Minor into your academic plan of study.

At a university like UMKC many students find that they have two deep academic passions and they want to satisfy them both. Other times a student makes considerable progress in one major before deciding that they want to change their focus. In either case, pursuing a double major is a great way to distinguish yourself from the crowd and improve your position in applications to prestigious graduate schools, leading professional programs, or career-track openings in government and industry. The double major will be indicated on your transcript and on your diploma.

The two most popular double majors that our students pursue are:

  • Mathematics: The Bachelor of Science degree in physics requires twelve credit hours of mathematics. Therefore, you are already a substantial portion of the way toward obtaining a double major in Mathematics. This is a great way to augment your analytical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Chemistry: The ten credit hours of chemistry that a Physics B.S. degree requires mean that you will already have a strong start toward a double major in Chemistry. This degree option will definitely deepen your expertise with matter at the atomic scale.

Other double major options, such as computer science, have also been pursued by our students. These degrees are typically completed within the 120 credit hours that a single major degree requires. Please contact our department's academic advisor for physics to obtain personalized one-on-one guidance about how to include Physics as a part of a double major into your academic plan of study.

If you are looking for an academic challenge that marries a comprehensive science education with a comprehensive education focused on engineering applications then this is the program for you! The Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Science has teamed up with the Department of Electrical Engineering in the School of Computing and Engineering to bring you the Physics and Electrical & Computer Engineering Double Degree Program. This well-structured mix of courses in physics, electrical/computer engineering, math, computer science, and chemistry will give you two independent Bachelor's Degrees in only five years.

Other double degree options can be pursued. These degrees require a minimum of 150 credit hours to complete. Please contact our department's academic advisor for physics to obtain personalized one-on-one guidance about how to include Physics as a part of a double degree plan of study.

If you are planning to pursue a degree in physics but also want a concrete way to incorporate studies from another field, you may find that pursuing a minor in that field is an excellent option for you. Alternatively, you may be changing your major to physics but you don't want to lose the investment you made in studies for another field and so obtaining a minor would be an ideal solution. A minor in any other field will be noted on your transcript. The Bachelors of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in physics are designed to be flexible enough for you to accommodate the minor requirements of virtually any other department that offers one. Our undergraduate academic advisor for physics will work one-on-one with you to make a solid plan of study that incorporates the minor of your interest. Pursuing a minor along with your Physics Bachelor's Degree is a great way for you to set yourself apart and demonstrate competency in another area of specialization.

Three of the most popular minors that our students pursue are:

  • Astronomy: Students that have taken the 240/250 series of introductory physics courses in pursuit of their physics B.S. or B.A. will only need to take 9 more credit hours of Astronomy courses at the 300/400 level to qualify for receiving an Astronomy Minor.
  • Mathematics: Because the Bachelor of Science degree in physics requires twelve credit hours of mathematics, a Minor in Mathematics is only nine credit hours away. This is a great way to augment your analytical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Chemistry: The ten credit hours of chemistry that a Physics B.S. degree requires means that you are over halfway to a Chemistry Minor. It is only necessary to take nine more credit hours from the Department of Chemistry to satisfy their minor requirements and you can deepen your expertise with matter at the atomic scale.

In any case, please contact our department's academic advisor for physics, to obtain personalized one-on-one guidance about how to include a minor from another department into your Physics Bachelor's Degree academic plan of study.