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Academics

Physics Majors and Minors


Are you curious and imaginative? Do you get personal satisfaction from solving problems? Do you enjoy math and analyzing the physical world? Do you want to solve the mysteries of the universe? Then a degree in physics may be for you! Modern society is influenced by physics in countless ways. Recent developments in fields such as laser optics, miniaturized electronics, nanotechnology, nuclear energy and medical instrumentation, are just some of the ways physics advances society today.

Contact Info:
Physics and Astronomy
Phillips Science Hall 230
101 Roosevelt Avenue
715-836-3148

Department Website

Where you'll find our grads

  • Computer Programmer, Celestica, Eau Claire, WI
  • Astronomer, SIRTF Science Center, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA
  • Graduate Student, University of Minnesota, Purdue, University of Wisconsin- Madison
  • Quality Engineer and World Wide Stop Ship Coordinator, IBM in Rochester, MN
  • Physics Teacher, Palm Beach County, FL and Cadott, WI
  • National Research Council Research Association, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

The physics and astronomy department was instrumental in my development and helped to prepare me for what I would experience in my future career. I walked away with many friendships—not only classmates, but many of the professors and other staff. I am grateful for the time I spent at UWEC.

Gregory McGill, dual degree engineering, 3M Control Systems

Prepared for Success

Our physics graduates participate in life-changing endeavors such as developing methods and tools that diagnose and cure disease, managing traffic flow in large cities, predicting geological phenomena such as earthquakes, creating new materials, and developing cleaner fuels for automobiles.

Courses that provide a strong foundation for success and faculty who help students thrive lead to successful jobs or placement into graduate programs for students when they graduate. UW-Eau Claire graduates more physics majors than most other four-year colleges in the country, according to a recent American Institute of Physics study. Physics majors are well-prepared for graduate studies in the area of physics, surface science, astronomy, materials science, medical physics, medicine, teaching, engineering, architecture, and law. They are also prepared for careers with computer companies, planetariums, government laboratories, the military, technology and materials companies, and the Peace Corps.

Why UW-Eau Claire

Mentoring

The 2012 American Institute of Physics Career Pathways Project concluded the following about UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff: “The Eau Claire physics department faculty and staff are clearly committed to helping students succeed in physics regardless of career or graduate school ambition and academic potential. The department has created a supportive and inclusive culture that attracts students with varied interests and addresses career preparation for these students in a way that is both intentional and thoughtful.”

Get Involved / Student Orgs

A simple (yet meaningful) way for physics students to get involved and get to know their professors and classmates on a more personal level outside is by visiting the "seminar room." The seminar room has become a place where majors and minors in physics can always go to get help with a project and interact with physics students and professors outside the classroom setting. In short, in this space students make the kind of connections that truly help them to feel anchored to the community of UW-Eau Claire.

Research Opportunities

The large Physics department at UW-Eau Claire offers a wide variety of possible research areas for students. This unique opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty in physics research spans the discipline. Some examples include atomic or acoustical physics, materials science, near-IR spectroscopy of planetary nebulae, X-ray spectroscopy of hot stars, computational science research and planetary science. Some students are currently using the Chandra X-ray telescope orbiting the Earth, some are developing new semiconductor technology and some are working with local companies to improve products.

Innovative Facilities

As a student you have access to the Materials Science Center. No other similar campus in the upper Midwest has equipment and technology such as an atomic force microscope, a scanning tunneling electron microscope and an x-ray diffractometer, to name a few, concentrated in one center. Unlike other universities, UW-Eau Claire also provides the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaborative projects with faculty. In addition, students have access to a 24-inch reflecting telescope at Hobbs Observatory, a rare piece of instrumentation for students to access. Students also have the opportunity to participate in summer research experiences at prestigious sites throughout the country.

First-Year Suggested Curriculum

  • University writing requirement — depending on placement exam
  • Precalculus Math or Calculus I
  • General Chemistry
  • Calculus II
  • University Physics I
  • Intro to Computer Programming
  • Social sciences or humanities course

Course Work / Pre-Professional Courses

UW-Eau Claire has a strong Pre-Engineering program where students usually spend two years at UW-Eau Claire before transferring to an engineering school to complete their degree. We also offer a dual degree program, which allows students to earn two bachelor’s degrees in approximately five years — a physics degree from UW-Eau Claire and an engineering degree from UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee or the University of Minnesota.

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