Department of Physics

East Hall, 2 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881


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Undergraduate FAQS

What can you do with a Bachelor’s degree in physics?

Among the many options are careers in teaching high school physics, research and development in private industry, research in government labs, medical imaging, scientific book publishing, and scientific reporting. A bachelor’s degree in physics is also an excellent preparation for admission to many different graduate and professional schools. Take a look at the Physics Education & Employment Data for Bachelors Degree compiled by the American Institute of Physics.

What can you do with a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. degree in physics?

In addition to the options mentioned above, there are careers in teaching college or university level physics, higher-level positions in basic and applied research in private industry or in government labs, biomedical research. There are even careers in the financial industry that require modeling skills that are a natural part of graduate study in physics. Take a look at the Physics Education & Employment Data for Masters Degree and for Ph.D. Degree compiled by the American Institute of Physics.

How much high school math would I need to take physics in college?

It is not necessary to have taken calculus in high school but you should have a solid background in algebra and trigonometry. To start taking physics in your first college semester, you need to be adequately prepared to take at least the first semester of calculus simultaneously.

Would you recommend placing out of a math or physics course if I score well on the AP tests?

A high score in the AP math exam would certainly qualify you to skip one semester of calculus and possibly two. We generally recommend starting your first college semester no higher than with Calculus 2 (MTH142 at URI). If you intend to pursue a physics degree, we recommend that you not skip any physics course even if you have the qualifications. Instead, we recommend that you take the honors sequence during the first three semesters, which offers enriched learning with many additional interactive features and small classes.

What’s the difference between “physical oceanography” and just “oceanography”?

Oceanography is more general, encompassing many types of studies of the ocean including the chemistry and biology of the ocean as well as the physics. Physical oceanographers gather, analyze, and model data concerned with the physical processes and aspects of the ocean such as the role of oceans in global climate change, El Nino, the influence of the ocean on tropical cyclones, deep ocean circulation, and geophysical turbulence and mixing.

Are there opportunities for summer internships in physics?

There are many opportunities for summer internships in physics in a variety of settings at many locations around the country. Almost all will provide a summer stipend and many include living accommodations as well.

What is the honors sequence in physics?

For well-prepared and motivated physics students (both majors and non-majors) we offer a 3-semester honors sequence featuring small classes, enriched learning with advanced applications of course materials, and interesting and challenging projects and assignments.

Where can I get more information on a physics degree program?

Contact the Undergraduate Program Director, Professor Heskett.

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