Skip to main content

This is your Donation message.

Academic Program Guide


College: Arts and Sciences
Degree: BS
Limited Access: No

Contact: Antonio Valencia
Address: Keen Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4350
Phone: (850) 644-3245

Description of Major

*Please Note: Face-to-face/in-person instruction of this program is available ONLY at the main campus in Tallahassee, FL. This program is NOT available via Online/Distance Learning.*

In a job market that values intellectual flexibility and demands technological mastery, a bachelor’s degree in physics is one way to insure a lifetime of relevance. According to the American Institute of Physics, many career opportunities are available to students with a B.S. in physics, including engineering, secondary education and managers in technical fields. The largest group – about one-fourth – are employed in software jobs. Even so, many FSU students pursue graduate work in physics and continue into a variety of scientific fields.

Undergraduates at FSU enjoy the privilege of studying and researching alongside internationally prominent faculty in astrophysics, atomic physics, high energy physics, condensed matter physics and nuclear physics. In addition to working with faculty, FSU’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students provides a platform for physics majors to connect with one another, resulting in a supportive on-campus community and life-long relationships.

The FSU Physics Department also offers majors in: Physics & Astrophysics, Physics & Materials, and Physical Science.

Prospective transfer students should contact (Arts & Sciences Admissions) with specific questions about admission and mapping requirements.

Prerequisite Coursework

Prerequisite Coursework: (0 beyond other requirements)
Students must complete the following prerequisites required for admission in preparation for the upper division Physics major. The following may also apply toward the major and/or General Education requirements.

MAC X311 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
MAC X312 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
MAC X313 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry III
*CHM X045, X045L (3,1) General Chemistry I with Lab (or equivalent)
*CHM X046, X046L (3,1) General Chemistry II with Lab
PHY X048C (5) General Physics A or PHY X048/X048L
PHY X049C (5) General Physics B or PHY X049/X049L

*Chemistry I and II are State of Florida "common prerequisites," but are not required for this major at FSU.

Note: State-wide common prerequisites are always under review. For the most current information and for acceptable alternative courses, visit the “Common Prerequisites Manual.” This is available from the “Student Services” section of .

We recommend that AA transfer students also take MAP 2302 (3) Ordinary Differential Equations before attending FSU.


Requirements for graduation in the College of Arts and Sciences include:
The College of Arts and Science requires proficiency in a foreign language through the intermediate (2220 or equivalent) level or sign language through the advanced (2614 or equivalent) level.

Requirements for Progression to the Upper-Division Major
In order to be admitted, students must complete at least 52 hours of credit with an adjusted GPA of 2.00 on FSU coursework, and at least half the required hours in General Education, including English composition and mathematics. Students must earn a minimum grade of C minus or higher in each required physics and math course.

Departmental Policy on Grades and Continuation in the Major
No physics or math course with a grade below “C minus” may be used to satisfy major requirements. A student who has received more than two unsatisfactory grades (U, F, D minus, D, D+) in courses required for the major, excluding the Term 1-4 State Common Prerequisites milestone courses, taken after enrolling at FSU will not be permitted to graduate with this major. Required courses at this level consist of the following: MAP 2302, PHY 1090, PHY 3045, PHY 3091, PHY 3101, PHY 3221, PHY 3802L, PHY 4323, PHY 4513, PHY 4604, PHY 4822L, PHZ 3113, PHZ 4151C.

Major Program of Studies at FSU: (53 hours)

Required courses in Physics (41 hours)
PHY 1090 (1) Discovering Physics
PHY 2048C (5) General Physics A
PHY 2049C (5) General Physics B
PHY 3045 (3) Physics Problem Solving
PHY 3091 (2) Communication in Physics
PHY 3101 (3) Intermediate Modern Physics
PHY 3221 (3) Mechanics I
PHY 3802L (2) Intermediate Laboratory
PHY 4323 (3) Electricity and Magnetism I
PHY 4513 (3) Thermal and Statistical Physics
PHY 4604 (3) Quantum Theory of Matter A
PHY 4822L (2) Advanced Laboratory
PHZ 3113 (3) Mathematical Physics I
PHZ 4151C (3) Computational Physics Lab

At least four courses selected from the following, including at least one daggered (†) course: (12 hours)
†AST 4211 (3) Introduction to Astrophysics
†PHY 3424 (3) Optics
†PHZ 4400 (3) Phenomena in Condensed Matter Physics
†PHZ 4390 (3) Particle and Nuclear Physics
†PHZ 4530 (3) Fluid and Plasma Physics
†PHZ 4601 (3) Special and General Relativity
PHY 4222 (3) Mechanics II
PHY 4324 (3) Electricity and Magnetism II
PHY 4605 (3) Quantum Theory of Matter B
PHZ 4117 (3) Math Physics II

Note: Students who are planning to conduct graduate work in physics are strongly advised to include PHY 4222 Mechanics II, PHY 4324 Electricity and Magnetism II, PHY 4605 Quantum Theory of Matter B, and PHZ 4117 Math Physics II in their programs.

Note: Six to nine credit hours of Honors Thesis or Senior Thesis may be substituted for Advanced Lab if this work culminates in a successfully defended and approved thesis.

Collateral Coursework: (16 hours)
Physics majors must satisfy all of the courses listed below. As collateral courses, these may also be used to satisfy prerequisite, General Education, and minor requirements. Coursework not used for General Education or the minor must still be taken and will raise the total hours of required coursework.

MAC 2311 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
MAC 2312 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
MAC 2313 (5) Calculus with Analytic Geometry III
MAP 2302 (3) Ordinary Differential Equations or MAP 3305 (3) Engineering Math I

Minor Coursework: At least 12 hours from an approved minor area or 15 hours from an approved interdepartmental minor or requirements as stated by the minor area. The required mathematics courses constitute a minor.

Digital Literacy: (3 hours beyond major)
Complete a University approved course to fulfill the requirement for this major

Oral Communication Competency: (0 hours beyond major)
PHY 3091 (2) Communication in Physics fulfills the requirement for this major.

Minimum Program Requirements - Summary
Total Hrs. Required 120
General Education 36*
Major Coursework 53
Collateral Coursework 16*
Minor Coursework 0 beyond collateral coursework
Digital Literacy 3 beyond major
Oral Competency 0 beyond major
Foreign Language 0-12 (depending on placement)
Electives to bring total credits to 120

*NOTE: Collateral coursework can fulfill General Education or minor requirements. Students who begin college prepared to start mathematics with calculus will have a greater number of hours available for electives.

Mapping is FSU’s academic advising and monitoring system. Academic progress is monitored each Fall and Spring semester to ensure that students are on course to earn their degree in a timely fashion. Transfer students must meet mapping guidelines to be admitted into their majors. You may view the map for this major at

1. A minimum of 45 hours at the 3000 level or above, 30 of which must be taken at this University.
2. Half of the major course semester hours must be completed in residence at this University.
3. The final 30 hours must be completed in residence at this University.

Employment Information
Salary Information: For more information go to: National Association of Colleges and Employers ( or the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Representative Job Titles Related to this Major Baccalaureate level: Technical writer, High School Teacher, Instrumental Technician, Physicist Technician. With additional education: Biophysicist, Geophysicist, Astrophysicist, Nuclear Physicist, Theoretical Physicist, Experimental Physicist, Solid State Physicist, College Professor, Low Temperature Physicist, Laser Physicist, Consultant, Aero dynamist, Stress Analyst.

Representative Employers: School Boards, Community Colleges, Manufacturers, Chemical Companies, College and Universities, Engineering Firms, Electronics Firms, Governmental Agencies, Laboratories, Research/Development Firms.

View Physics Academic Map