Physics and Astronomy B.S.
UNC’s physics degree offers rigorous preparation for careers in engineering, astronomy, theoretical physics, STEM education, and related subjects. Our student-centered physics program features small classes and highly attentive faculty, while empowering you to pursue your own research under faculty supervision, or to collaborate with senior investigators.
You have the option of focusing your physics bachelor’s degree in one of four emphasis areas—astronomy, engineering, mathematical physics or secondary teaching. Whether or not you decide to specialize in an emphasis area, you’ll work closely with Ph.D. faculty inside and outside the classroom, with plenty of opportunities and rewards for taking initiative and showing creativity. UNC’s physics program enables you to showcase your talent and ideas, gain direct experience, and build a strong resume for graduate school or the job market.
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Physics with an engineering emphasis is a unique field that uses the principles
of physics to develop new technologies and innovations and find solutions to
common engineering problems. Download our Physics and Astronomy Career Guide
Jan Chaloupka, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Physics
Jan Chaloupka, Ph.D., earned his B.S. in Physics at the University of Washington and his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester, where he specialized in the interaction of intense, ultrashort laser pulses with matter. He went on to a post-doctoral research position at Brookhaven National Laboratory and a faculty position at the College of William & Mary before arriving at UNC in 2009. He has published papers on topics in experimental strong-field physics, optical vortex generation and characterization, novel techniques in Schlieren imaging, and computational studies of classical model atoms in intense laser fields.
At UNC, Chaloupka maintains an active research program with the meaningful involvement of undergraduates. Topics include Schlieren imaging and beam shaping, mimicking quantum behavior with bouncing oil droplets, and using numerical simulations to model ionization of atoms in strong fields.
B.S. in Physics
The degree focuses on the laws and principles of physics through a basics core of physics and support courses. Students can select from elective courses at the junior-senior level to tailor the program to their interests and future goals. Students develop a skill set and knowledge that prepare them for careers in industry and research laboratories or graduate studies in physics, engineering, health, and related fields.
B.S. in Physics: Engineering Physics
The engineering emphasis prepares you to succeed in one of the most dynamic segments of the job market. UNC’s applied, research-oriented approach allows you to enter the job market with concrete achievements on your resume, giving you a competitive edge over other first-time job applicants. Choose this physics degree emphasis if your career interests lie in areas such as civil engineering, aerospace engineering, computer science, industrial technology or similar fields. The engineering emphasis also offers a strong foundation for graduate studies in engineering.
B.S. in Physics: Secondary Teaching
UNC’s recent graduates from this emphasis area have a 100 percent job placement rate as STEM educators. You’ll learn advanced physics content while gaining direct experience in teaching, classroom management and educational psychology. The program includes a student teaching component, along with all the prerequisites you’ll need to earn a teaching license. STEM educators are in high demand nationwide, so you’ll find abundant job opportunities.
B.S. in Physics: Mathematical Physics
This emphasis provides you with rigorous academic grounding in physics, in preparation for graduate study in physics or careers in applied mathematics. Specified and elective mathematics courses are added to the physics core courses.
B.S. in Physics: Astronomy
The astronomy concentration offers a pathway into careers in astronomy, astrophysics and related areas.
UNC’s Physics Minor will give you additional exposure in physics and complements a major in chemistry, earth science, biology or mathematics. You’ll need a total of 32 to 34 credits to complete the minor.
Our bachelor’s degree in physics provides you with a foundation to enter some of the world’s most exciting, fastest-growing industries. Physics and engineering expertise is highly sought by employers in the energy sector, health care technology, telecommunications, information technology, manufacturing, and many other industries. STEM teachers are also in very high demand, as education leaders strive to prepare U.S. students for science- and technology-oriented careers.
Consider UNC's B.S. in Physics if you want to:
- Apply your math skills
- Explore your passion for science
- Work as a teacher, faculty member, engineer, or professional in high-tech industry
- Pursue research as an undergraduate
- Principles of physics
- How to design and conduct experiments
- Scientific writing and presentation
- Classroom instruction and management
- Nuclear and Particle Physics
- Quantum Mechanics
- Electricity and Magnetism
UNC’s physics degree stands out for its multiple upper-level lab experiences and opportunities in research and independent study. You’ll have exceptional opportunities to assist faculty-led research and conduct your own investigations. You’ll also get hands-on experience with high-tech equipment and specialized instrumentation in optics, robotics, imaging, audio, nanoscience, astronomy and other subdisciplines.
Where can your degree take you?
- Graduate school in physics, engineering, astronomy or related disciplines
- Employment in a high-tech sector such as energy, aerospace, or health care
- STEM education (grades 7 through 12)
- Product research and development
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