Academic Catalog



Department website:

Sebastian Kuhn, Chair
Perry Nerem, Chief Departmental Advisor
Stephen Bueltmann, Associate Departmental Advisor

The Department of Physics offers the following majors: physics, physics-professional, secondary physics education (6-12), and astrophysics.  In addition, dual degrees with physics and electrical engineering and physics with the Master of Business Administration are offered.  

Senior Thesis

An important feature of all majors is the Senior Thesis, which is based on individual research done under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The Senior Thesis is a capstone experience that gives a student the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom to real-life research problems in physics. This research can be done either in on-campus laboratories and facilities or at other scientific institutions in the region where departmental faculty members perform research, such as the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (including the Applied Research Center) or the Langley Research Center of NASA. On completion of the project, the student must prepare a written final report and make an oral presentation of the results to the department.  The senior thesis can be completed in one semester, by taking PHYS 499W, or in two semesters, by taking the PHYS 489W & PHYS 490W sequence.

Advanced Placement

Advanced placement credit is awarded to students who earn qualifying scores on AP and IB subject examinations.  See the equivalency charts on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website at

Advanced placement credit for courses other than PHYS 111N-PHYS 112N and PHYS 231N-PHYS 232N may be received on the basis of examinations administered by the Department of Physics. Permission to take such an examination must be obtained from the chief departmental advisor. Students may also refer to the Policy on Prior Learning Assessment Credit Options at the Undergraduate Level found in this Catalog.

Clifford L. and Lillian R. Adams Scholarship

The Department of Physics selects one or more students each year to receive the Clifford L. and Lillian R. Adams Scholarship. The recipient must be a declared physics major and may be an entering freshman, a transfer student, or a continuing student. Selection is based on a student's academic record, relevant test scores, and recommendations. The award is renewable.