"I am very pleased with the availability of research opportunities for undergraduates.  Not only did it look great on my resume, but it gave real world experience on highly technical problems and a chance to give presentations to a large audience."  -- Bryan G. Hecox

Physics explores the basic properties of matter and energy, analyzing the forces which are in action inside materials, during energy transformations, at both large and small scales. 

Students gain experience in dealing with a broad range of such physical phenomena, using both laboratory and mathematical problem-solving techniques. Students learn the basic laws of physics that govern nature, and develop the necessary skills to apply these laws to physical processes that are used across our technologically advanced modern society.

Options in Physics Include:

Possible Careers

Physics majors are prepared to do design and development work in;

  • Aerospace, Aviation & Defense
  • Applied Physics
  • Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Atomic & Molecular Physics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computational Physics
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Engineering Internships
  • Entry-level Physics and Engineering
  • General Physics
  • Geophysics
  • Instrumentation and Measurement
  • Materials
  • Mathematics
  • Medical Physics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Optics and Laser
  • Particle Physics
  • Photonics
  • Plasma Physics
  • Robotics
  • Semiconductor
  • Space Physics
  • Theoretical Physics

The background of a B.S. degree in Physics will prepare students with essential skills of logical and critical thinking, with problem-solving techniques, and with an understanding and appreciation of the physical world around them, all of which will lead to a more successful and rewarding career as they directly enter the workforce or choose to move on to higher level graduate training.

Students planning to major in Physics should take four years of high school mathematics and one year each of physics, chemistry, and biology in high school.

Why Choose Physics at WIU?

Powerhouse Degree: Physics majors can pair their degree with a minor in a complementary field, such as mathematics or chemistry, as well as pursue the comprehensive physics/science teacher certification program to be qualified to teach at the junior or senior high school level.Students also have the option to package a WIU B. S. in Engineering Physics with a B.S. in engineering from a “top ten” engineering school.

Hands-on Labs: Students experience hands-on interaction in small group settings under the mentorship of Ph.D. faculty. All courses and laboratory sections are taught by faculty members with a Ph.D. from prestigious institutions around the world.

Small Class Sizes: most upper level undergraduate classes average approximately 10 students; all laboratory sections are capped at 18 students. Students are fully engaged and given opportunities to ask questions, participate in individualized experiments, and handle the equipment used directly.

Excellent Mentoring: Our physics students are given the opportunity to be known on a first-name basis by our Physics faculty, and the majority of our students participate in individual undergraduate research projects under the direct mentoring by a faculty member beginning from their sophomore year.

Students Involved in Active Research & Presentation: Almost all of our students involve themselves in experimental, computational, or theoretical research projects by the time they reach their senior year. An essential component of a quality undergraduate physics education, this research provides our students with unique opportunities to present their research in both on-campus venues as well as at prestigious regional, state, national, and even international conferences.

Notable Graduates

  • David K. Rigsbee, Mathematics Department Chair,  John Wood Community College, Quincy, Illinois.
  • Harlan L. Watson, of Cabin John, MD, distinguished professional staff member, U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Michael C. Baxa, Distinguished Post-Doctoral Fellow in Molecular Bio-Physics Group, Georgia Technical University; Recipient, WIU's very first Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship
  • Dr. James C. Gumbart, Assistant Professor, School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology 


Physics At A Glance

Degrees Available:

  • B.S.
  • M.S.

Major: Yes

Minor: Yes

Graduate Degree: Yes

Campus: Macomb

Study Opportunities:

  • GradTrac
  • Honors
  • Teacher Certification

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