There are many questions to consider as you wrestle with choosing a career for yourself. For example, how important is it that your career be interesting and challenging, as opposed to merely providing a comfortable paycheck? How important is the salary you will earn or the type of job you might have? If physics is one of your favorite subjects perhaps you should consider a physics major. Remember that the University is not simply a place for learning the tricks of the trade for a particular career. A University education also teaches you to think critically so that you can use the wisdom of the past to understand the present and to develop a vision for the future. Physics prepares you to do this especially well: it offers not only the discipline of science, but also the conceptual framework for understanding all of the physical phenomena which will drive the business, industry, and technology of the 21st century. For these reasons, all undergraduates should study some physics!

Why Study Physics?

Let's begin with the traditional definition of physics: the attempt to understand the behavior of matter and energy in terms of a few general laws or principles. Physicists try to understand the cosmos, all the way from stars which make up galaxies down to the elementary particles that make up nuclei and atoms. The laws of physics underlie the electronic intricacies of computers as well as the biological complexities of the human brain. Understanding the cosmos and the human brain are perhaps among the boldest goals of 21st-century physics, but of course there are also more down-to-earth problems being tackled by physicists today. In fact, the creative processes used in physics -- the logic, the discipline, the approach to analyzing the single tree without being overwhelmed by the forest -- also have important applications in many other areas such as business, law, and economics.

The Physics offers exciting and challenging academic programs of undergraduate study, leading to the Bachelor of Arts (BA) or the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Wichita State University's physics curriculum includes traditional core physics courses and also provides the opportunity for you to explore areas of individual interest through special projects. If you want to connect your study of physics to another subject, you can design individualized tracks in engineering, computer science, or other areas within your physics major.

As a physics graduate, you'll have an understanding of basic physical phenomena and the theoretical framework required to interpret these phenomena. You’ll be ready for either graduate school or a variety of jobs - with an oil company, applying physical methods to the search for oil and other energy sources; with a city, assisting in assessing energy needs, as well as giving advice on meeting those needs; or with national laboratories, conducting pure or applied research in the structure of materials or in the operation of devices. Industries usually hire physicists for tasks closely associated with engineering, but they may also be hired to work on research projects.

Admission and Degrees

When you choose to study physics, you’ll be admitted to Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in preprogram studies. You will be assigned a faculty advisor in the physics department who will help you develop your program of study and who will outline specific requirements for full admission to Liberal Arts and Sciences.

If you're interested in physics as a graduate career or to work in industry you may pursue a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts. If you are interesting in teaching physics in high school you will need to talk with an academic advisor in both the physics department and the college of education. Regardless of you pursuits, we strongly encourage you to speak with a physics department advisor about your plan of study. Not every course is offered each semester, and proper sequencing of courses is crucial for your success.


The physics department awards several named scholarships: the Nelson S. Ladd Physics Scholarship, the Jean and Henry Unruh Scholarship, the Douglas Knight Memorial Scholarship, and the Ralph and Ina Shenk Scholarship. These scholarships are awarded each spring on the basis of academic merit. More information can be found on the Physics Scholarship page.

Related Opportunities

As a physics major, you may participate in the Student Physics Society. If eligible, you may be selected for the physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma, and for University academic honor societies such as Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board.

For more information

Contact the Director:

Dr. Holger Meyer
Physics Department
Wichita State University
Wichita, Ks 67260-0032

Phone: (316) 978-5224