Physics (BS)

Degree: Bachelor of Science
Major: Physics
Program Code: 3471

About This Major . . .

Physics is the study of the universe: what it is made of and how it works, ranging from stars and galaxies to atoms and nuclei and everything in between. Physics forms the foundation of many technical fields including electronics and optics. Physics also features prominently in many of the hottest areas of current research and innovation, such as the multidisciplinary fields of nanotechnology and biophysics.

The physics program serves as a foundation for a wide array of careers. Physics majors from Colorado Mesa University have gone on to graduate programs in physics, astrophysics, chemistry, materials science, and aerospace engineering. They have also gone directly into jobs in engineering, business, and research. 

For more information on what you can do with this major, visit Career Services’ What to Do with a Major? resource.

All CMU baccalaureate graduates are expected to demonstrate proficiency in specialized knowledge/applied learning, quantitative fluency, communication fluency, critical thinking, personal and social responsibility, and information literacy. In addition to these campus-wide student learning outcomes, graduates of this major will be able to:

  1. Show fluency with the major fields of physics (classical mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical physics, and quantum theory). (Specialized Knowledge)
  2. Use mathematical representations to analyze physical scenarios. (Quantitative Fluency)
  3. Use laboratory techniques to investigate experimentally physical phenomena. (Applied Learning)
  4. Communicate effectively about topics in physics. (Communication Fluency)
  5. Execute a project which addresses a significant and complex issue in physics, integrating knowledge and techniques from different areas of physics. (Specialized Knowledge/Applied Learning)

Each section below contains details about the requirements for this program. Select a header to expand the information/requirements for that particular section of the program's requirements. 

To print or save an overview of this program's information, including the program description, learning outcomes, requirements, suggested course sequencing (if applicable), and advising and graduation information, scroll to the bottom of the left-hand navigation menu and select "Print Options." This will give you the options to either "Send Page to Printer" or "Download PDF of This Page." The "Download PDF of This Page" option prepares a much more concise presentation of all program information. The PDF is also printable and may be preferable due to its brevity. 

Institutional Degree Requirements

The following institutional degree requirements apply to all CMU baccalaureate degrees. Specific programs may have different requirements that must be met in addition to institutional requirements.

  • 120 semester hours minimum.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 30 of the last 60 hours of credit at CMU, with at least 15 semester hours in major discipline courses numbered 300 or higher.
  • 40 upper-division credits (an alternative credit limit applies to the Bachelor of Applied Science degree).
  • 2.00 cumulative GPA or higher in all CMU coursework.
  • A course may only be used to fulfill one requirement for each degree/certificate.
  • No more than six semester hours of independent study courses can be used toward the degree.
  • Non-traditional credit, such as advanced placement, credit by examination, credit for prior learning, cooperative education and internships, cannot exceed 30 semester credit hours for a baccalaureate degree. A maximum of 15 of the 30 credits may be for cooperative education, internships, and practica.
  • Pre-collegiate courses (usually numbered below 100) cannot be used for graduation.
  • Capstone exit assessment/projects (e.g., Major Field Achievement Test) requirements are identified under Program-Specific Degree Requirements.
  • The Catalog Year determines which program sheet and degree requirements a student must fulfill in order to graduate. Visit with your advisor or academic department to determine which catalog year and program requirements you should follow.
  • See “Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees and Certificates” in the catalog for a complete list of graduation requirements.

Essential Learning Requirements

(31 semester hours)

See the current catalog for a list of courses that fulfill the requirements below. If a course is an Essential Learning option and a requirement for your major, you must use it to fulfill the major requirement and make a different selection for the Essential Learning requirement.

English 1
ENGL 111English Composition I-GTCO13
ENGL 112English Composition II-GTCO23
Mathematics 1
MATH 151Calculus I-GT-MA1 23
Select one History course3
Select one Humanities course3
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Select one Social and Behavioral Sciences course3
Select one Social and Behavioral Sciences course3
Fine Arts
Select one Fine Arts course3
Natural Sciences
Select one Natural Sciences course3
Select one Natural Sciences course with a lab4
Total Semester Credit Hours31

Must receive a grade of "C" or better and must be complete by the time the student has 60 semester hours.


This is a 5 credit course. 3 credits apply to the Essential Learning requirements and 2 credits apply to electives.

Other Lower Division Requirements

Wellness Requirement
KINE 100Health and Wellness1
Select one Activity course1
Essential Learning Capstone 1
ESSL 290Maverick Milestone3
ESSL 200Essential Speech1
Total Semester Credit Hours6

Essential Learning Capstone must be taken after completion of the Essential Learning English and Mathematics requirements, and when a student has earned between 45 and 75 hours.

Foundation Courses

(14 semester hours, must earn a grade of “C” or better in all courses)

PHYS 131
Fundamental Mechanics-GTSC1
and Fundamental Mechanics Laboratory-GTSC1
PHYS 132
Electromagnetism and Optics-GTSC1
and Electromagnetism and Optics Laboratory-GTSC1
Select one of the following options:4
CS1: Foundations of Computer Science
Beginning Programming
and Beginning Programming Laboratory
Total Semester Credit Hours14

Program Specific Degree Requirements

(52-53 semester hours, must pass all courses with a grade of “C” or higher and maintain a 2.00 cumulative GPA or higher in coursework in this area.)

Core Courses
PHYS 230Intermediate Dynamics3
PHYS 231Modern Physics3
PHYS 251Electronics for Scientists3
PHYS 252Intermediate Laboratory3
PHYS 311Electromagnetic Theory I3
PHYS 321Quantum Theory I3
PHYS 331Advanced Laboratory I3
PHYS 342Advanced Dynamics3
PHYS 362Statistical and Thermal Physics3
PHYS 482Senior Research1
PHYS 482Senior Research1
PHYS 494Physics Seminar1
PHYS 494Physics Seminar1
MATH 152Calculus II5
MATH 253Calculus III4
MATH 260Differential Equations3-4
or MATH 236 Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
MATH 360Methods of Applied Mathematics3
Total Semester Credit Hours46-47
Restricted Electives
Select two of the following:6
Electromagnetic Theory II
General Relativity
Topics 1
Quantum Theory II
Solid State Physics
Computational Physics I
Computational Physics II
Modern Optics
Topics 1
Total Semester Credit Hours6

PHYS 396/PHYS 496 may be taken more than once so long as the topic is not repeated.

General Electives

All college level courses appearing on your final transcript, not listed above that will bring your total semester hours to 120 hours. 16-17 semester hours; 12 hours of upper division may be needed.

MATH 151Calculus I-GT-MA12
Select additional electives14-15
Total Semester Credit Hours16-17

While the sequencing below culminates in at total of 119-121 semester credit hours, students must complete a minimum of 120 semester credit hours as required for completion of the degree, including satisfactory completion of all required courses. Plan to complete requirements with varying hour options accordingly. 

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterSemester Credit Hours
PHYS 131
Fundamental Mechanics-GTSC1
and Fundamental Mechanics Laboratory-GTSC1
MATH 151 Calculus I-GT-MA1 5
Essential Learning - Humanities 3
ENGL 111 English Composition I-GTCO1 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
PHYS 132
Electromagnetism and Optics-GTSC1
and Electromagnetism and Optics Laboratory-GTSC1
MATH 152 Calculus II 5
ENGL 112 English Composition II-GTCO2 3
Essential Learning - History 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Second Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 230 Intermediate Dynamics 3
PHYS 251 Electronics for Scientists 3
MATH 253 Calculus III 4
KINA Activity 1
Select one of the following: 4
CS1: Foundations of Computer Science
Beginning Programming
and Beginning Programming Laboratory
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
PHYS 231 Modern Physics 3
PHYS 252 Intermediate Laboratory 3
MATH 260
Differential Equations
or Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
Essential Learning - Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
ESSL 290 Maverick Milestone 3
ESSL 200 Essential Speech 1
 Semester Credit Hours16-17
Third Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 311 Electromagnetic Theory I 3
PHYS 342 Advanced Dynamics 3
MATH 360 Methods of Applied Mathematics 3
Essential Learning - Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
Essential Learning - Natural Science with Lab 4
 Semester Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
PHYS 321 Quantum Theory I 3
PHYS 331 Advanced Laboratory I 3
PHYS 362 Statistical and Thermal Physics 3
Essential Learning - Fine Arts 3
General Elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Fourth Year
Fall Semester
Restricted Elective 3
PHYS 482 Senior Research 1
PHYS 494 Physics Seminar 1
General Electives 7
 Semester Credit Hours12
Spring Semester
Restricted Elective 3
KINE 100 Health and Wellness 1
Essential Learning - Natural Science 3
PHYS 482 Senior Research 1
PHYS 494 Physics Seminar 1
General Electives 4-5
 Semester Credit Hours13-14
 Total Semester Credit Hours119-121

Advising Process and DegreeWorks

Documentation on the pages related to this program is intended for informational purposes to help determine what courses and associated requirements are needed to earn a degree. The suggested course sequencing outlines how students could finish degree requirements. Some courses are critical to complete in specific semesters, while others may be moved around. Meeting with an academic advisor is essential in planning courses and altering the suggested course sequencing. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to understand and fulfill the requirements for their intended degree(s).

DegreeWorks is an online degree audit tool available in MAVzone. It is the official record used by the Registrar’s Office to evaluate progress towards a degree and determine eligibility for graduation. Students are responsible for reviewing their DegreeWorks audit on a regular basis and should discuss questions or concerns with their advisor or academic department head. Discrepancies in requirements should be reported to the Registrar’s Office.

Graduation Process

Students must complete the following in the first two months of the semester prior to completing their degree requirements:

  • Review their DegreeWorks audit and create a plan that outlines how unmet requirements will be met in the final semester.
  • Meet with their advisor and modify their plan as needed. The advisor must approve the final plan.
  • Submit the “Intent to Graduate” form to the Registrar’s Office to officially declare the intended graduation date and commencement ceremony plans.
  • Register for all needed courses and complete all requirements for each degree sought.

Submission deadlines and commencement details can be found at

If a student’s petition for graduation is denied, it will be their responsibility to consult the Registrar’s Office regarding next steps.