Department of Physics

Bachelor of Science - Physics

Degree Overview

Physics majors select one of four options within the major:

  • Standard Physics
  • Engineering Physics
  • Science/Physics Teacher Education
  • Materials Science

Physics plays a basic role in science, engineering, and technology. It deals with the physical world all around us at the most fundamental level, seeking to understand the energy transformations of physical processes and the forces that bind the most basic constituents of matter into more complex system.

The Department of Physics at WIU is committed to offering every student the opportunity to realize his or her potential in an environment dedicated to rewarding academic excellence. The department has a long tradition of faculty who are committed to teaching excellence while simultaneously involving their students in the excitement and challenges of faculty-mentored individualized and group research projects.

  • Physics (16 s.h.)
  • Conceptual Physics (16 s.h.)

View the specific degree requirements and course descriptions in the Undergraduate Catalog .

Standard Physics

If you enjoy science and mathematics, are curious about the nature of things, and are fascinated by advances in technology, you will find the study of physics a challenging and rewarding way to pursue these interests. The study of physics will allow you to develop tangible, marketable skills such as logical thinking, problem solving, the application of mathematics and computers to physical phenomena, and the use of sophisticated measurement techniques. This is the type of training that many employers at top companies are looking for today.


Physicists contribute to a wide spectrum of professional activities in research laboratories, the engineering and computer science industry, government, education, medicine, and finance. Recent graduates of our program have found employment in fields such as physics research, physics education, industry research and development, computer applications, management, technical sales, nuclear medicine, aerospace engineering, and telecommunications. The demand for graduates trained in technical fields such as physics is currently very high and does not seem likely to fade in the near future. Physicists are currently among the best paid professionals in science and technology.

Engineering Physics

The Engineering Physics major option blends courses from Engineering, Physics, and Math to build an understanding of how these areas interact and support each other. You’ll boost your knowledge of the physical environment while discovering how physics is applied to problem-solving in our rapidly changing high-tech world

As an Engineering Physics major, you’ll study the fundamentals and intricacies of both engineering and physics, including electricity and magnetism, statics and dynamics, strength of materials, thermodynamics, and fluid dynamics. Other possibilities include astrophysics or space science, and the study or development of optical materials. You’ll also take advanced courses in calculus and differential equations. Laboratory work will teach you how to use experimental techniques and will give you hands-on experience with high-tech equipment.


An Engineering Physics major comes in handy for a range of job opportunities, including positions in research and development (R&D) at high-technology industries as well as jobs in national laboratories and universities. Further career development may lead to a position as staff engineer, scientist, or technical director.

Science/Physics Teacher Education

If you enjoy helping others learn and you find learning about how the physical world works fascinating, then teaching science just might be for you. Physics plays a basic role in science, engineering, and technology. It deals with the physical world all around us at the most fundamental level, seeking to understand the energy transformations of physical processes and the forces that bind the most basic constituents of matter into more complex systems. Given the technological nature of our world today, the job of the high school physics teacher has become increasingly critical.

Students combine a study of physics, chemistry, biology, and the earth and space sciences with a study of teaching foundations and various field and clinical experiences as they complete the major. Successful completion of this program leads toward a Bachelor of Science in Physics, as well as an Illinois teaching license for grades 9-12 science. The culminating experience for this program is a 16-week student teaching experience.


The most popular career option selected by students seeking this degree option is teaching at the high school level. In addition to careers in teaching at public and private schools, graduates are also sought as corporate trainers; education specialists in nontraditional settings, such as parks, museums, zoos (may require a zoo and aquaria certificate depending upon the site); tutors; and on-line teachers, as well as other positions needing an individual who possesses excellent people skills, ability to educate others, and a strong content background.

Materials Science

Materials science is an iterdisciplinary area which includes the study of the properties of Materials (Physics), synthesis of a variety of materials (Physics and Chemistry, and applications (Engineering and Technology). The Materials science option is a unique program in Illinois allowing students to study from a Physics perspective with Chemistry exposure.


Developing new materials and studying their properties are an integral part of the research and development in most of the universities and national and industrial labs. Materials science research is crucial to develop novel products and technologies in a multitude of industries. Therefore, material scientists are always in high demand.

Visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the most recent employment and wage statistics for a Material Scientist.

Pre-Engineering Program

The Pre-Engineering program is a dual-degree program whereby students may obtain a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics within the College of Arts and Sciences at WIU, and a B.S. degree from a prestigious Engineering School in a chosen field of specialization. Students spend their first three years of training within the WIU Physics Department for the Engineering Physics degree, and their final two years of training for the Engineering degree at Urbana-Champaign (UIU-C), at University of Iowa U-I, at Illinois Institute of Technology IIT, or at the WIU-QC campus. A student completing this option will be graduating with a very marketable combination of two degrees, one in Engineering Physics and the other in their chosen sub-field of Engineering. This is especially attractive to many of today’s employers seeking individuals who have dual skills in both scientific research and development and in engineering design.


The Pre-Engineering program at WIU is specifically designed to provide this a strong background in math and science for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a specialized engineer. Therefore, if you are interested in becoming a civil, mechanical, electrical, computer, aeronautical, biomedical, or materials engineer, or any other discipline-specific engineer, our Pre-Engineering program is the right starting point for your career. This program will strongly prepare you to succeed at the best discipline-specific engineering programs anywhere in the nation. The vast majority of engineering jobs require a discipline-specific engineering degree in your chosen area of specialization.

Pre-Engineering Progam Coordinator

P.K. Babu, Ph.D.